Changes in many of our core marketing assumptions struck me like a thunderbolt during our interns’ final project presentations. Digital natives have quietly upended our baseline assumptions about marketing and American consumers.
Here are the key elements of the new thinking.
Everyone is Socially Mobile. It’s a given that everyone is on social media, accessing their connections frequently using a smartphone. If you’re not connected and sharing, you don’t exist. You are your network. Facebook , Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and WhatsApp have the greatest share of voice. Tumblr, Pinterest, and others are carving out psycho-demographic niches. Younger consumers rely on these networks and expect to get news, trending topics, specific information, and trusted recommendations.
Old Functions in New Channels. Media has morphed. The functions, features, and marketing uses of classic media channels have been transposed to new channels. Broadcast and cable TV have given way to YouTube, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Netflix. Radio has become podcasts, Spotify, and Pandora. Print is quickly disappearing into digital content. Websites are being replaced by apps and email is evolving into Snapchat and other speedy and perishable messenger apps.
Meta-Data Mindsets. People think in hashtags. Articulating a hashtag to mark a thought is almost as important as the thought itself. Consumers expect to be part of a larger, broader, deeper conversation and use hashtags to be found and to be routed into the right context. Hashtags insure a certain degree of sharing and serve as a way to connect an individual to the collective. If you doubt me, watch this over-the-top example.
Influencers Influence. Everybody follows somebody. From friends and family to the Kardashians, consumers expect to get information and align their tastes and interests with others. Celebrities, bloggers — real and self-proclaimed experts of all stripes hold sway over segments of the consumer audience.
Transparency Drives Trust. Consumers want to align their values with favorite brands. They buy into what a brand stands for rather than simply buying a product or service. Nobody wants to be marketed to. There is a craving for things that are real and genuine; brands that can explain what they do or make, why and how it comes together. Consumers are more motivated to support brands that mirror their personal values because patronizing a brand has a status and badge value that reflects their personality and what they stand for. People want belong to communities and support political and philosophical movements without formally joining. They find meaning and connection in the brand choices they make.
Smorgasbord Sensibility. Consumers expect to have choices and to have options laid out for them. They are driving relationships with brands by making choices and opting in or out. In a 24/7/365 mobile world, they assume that brands will know them, meet them at appropriate moments, and offer them personalized, relevant, and valuable offers. They are willing to trade personal data for convenience, utility, and deals, but are only conditionally loyal. Their interest and support needs to be acknowledged and reciprocated.
Some of these changes are nuances that we’ve seen coming. Others represent a significant change in thinking and practice that will ultimately reshape how we conceptualize and build brands and campaigns.
Danny Flamberg, EVP Managing Director of Digital Strategy and CRM at Publicis based in New York, has been building brands and building businesses for more than 30 years.Prior to joining Publicis, he led a successful global consulting group called Booster Rocket, as Managing Partner. Before becoming a consultant, he was Vice President of Global Marketing at SAP, SVP and Managing Director at Digitas in New York and Europe and President of Relationship Marketing at Amiratti Puris Lintas and Lowe Worldwide.
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