We recently explored how the millennial generation’s consumer ethos of “self, society, and planet” has impacted other demographics and encouraged brands to become more transparent about their product sourcing and social impact. This shift is perhaps most obvious when it comes to food labeling – after all, this is the generation that saw calorie counts added to fast food menus and prioritizes organic and local ingredients. However, today’s consumers want greater transparency for all products, not just those they literally consume.
In our contentious political and social climate, most brands choose to play it safe and advertise their products without engaging with any issues that may alienate a portion of their consumer base. Not so with Gillette, which recently released an online ad titled We Believe: The Best a Man Can Get that courts controversy by invoking the #MeToo movement, toxic masculinity, and bullying (among other hot-button issues). The ad, which provoked a firestorm of competing editorials and news coverage, has placed Gillette at the center of an ongoing debate about social messaging from brands.
A lot has been published about the ad’s message and the public’s response. What I’d like to examine is the risk vs. the reward of socially-engaged brand content and how brands are creating a new playbook for effective social messaging. Continue Reading
Richard Edelman, a leading expert in public relations and marketing, recently gave a speech at the University of Notre Dame addressing the crisis in consumer trust. His firm, Edelman, is a long-standing chronicler of consumer trust in institutions including business and government (we’ve covered past Edelman Trust Barometer results on our blog). In 2017, their global survey found that “trust is in crisis around the world” with trust in media and government reaching record lows since before the Great Recession of 2008.
The results for 2018 offer little hope for rebounding from the previous year. The most recent Trust Barometer “reveals a world of seemingly stagnant distrust” as “people’s trust in business, government, NGOs and media remained largely unchanged from 2017.” What the survey does offer, alongside Edelman’s recent remarks, is a potential way forward for those companies seeking to re-earn and re-establish the goodwill of their consumer base. Continue Reading
The Nebraska Tourism Commission recently unveiled a surprising new slogan: “Honestly, It’s Not for Everyone.” Unsurprisingly, it has garnered considerable national press for making this bold move. Conventional tourism campaigns rely on extolling the positives of a given location; European slogans include Germany’s “Simply Inspiring” and Norway’s “Powered by Nature,” while in the United States we have Utah’s “Life Elevated” and West Virginia’s “Wild and Wonderful.”
Nebraska’s new slogan takes a different approach, acknowledging that the state doesn’t get attention as a leisure destination or even a significant natural beauty. By turning conventional wisdom on its head, the Nebraska Tourism Commission is attracting attention of a different kind and ultimately achieving its goal. Continue Reading
My wife and I are big fans of Rev. Rodger Nishioka, an astonishingly bright man. We love his insightful and perceptive approach to examining the big issues of our day. The opening sentences of Rodger’s recent note have been on my mind since I first read it. He wrote:
Hermeneutics. It means “interpretation.” I like to think of hermeneutics as a set of lenses through which each person views the world. Hermeneutics, or how we interpret the world, shape everything. The truth is each of us have multiple hermeneutics. We view the world through a complex combination of lenses. Some of my lenses are male, fourth-generation American of Japanese ancestry, single, mid-westerner (that is the newest one and I am still growing into it) and educated (some might say over-educated?!)
As part of our ongoing exploration of authentic branding and how brand makers create and sustain value, we recently discussed Bain & Company’s Elements of Value. This pyramid of attributes provides a fascinating and powerful framework for discussing and determining exactly what a brand is promising its audience. By identifying the values that a brand or product seeks to fulfill, we can clarify the promise it is making to the consumers who purchase its products.
The greatest opportunity for a succinct declaration of a brand’s promise is its tagline – the short slogan that (usually accompanying a logo) provides a verbal “hook” in the brand’s marketing and advertising. Famous taglines (like Nike’s “Just Do It” or Allstate’s “You’re In Good Hands”) can become cultural touchstones that cement a brand’s identity in the minds of consumers. They also speak to the value proposition – the “promise” – the brand is making to its audience. Continue Reading
Industry experts call it “Peak TV” – a title that acknowledges both the quality and quantity of scripted series currently airing across established networks and upstart streaming services alike. For viewers at home, it may feel impossible to keep up with the sheer number of “must watch” shows. That’s an understandable feeling. FX Networks, which tracks the series currently on the air, notes that 342 individual scripted series have aired so far in 2017, making it the biggest year on record for TV programming.
For producers and marketing departments, this glut of content creates a mandate: stand out from the crowd or fade away. As a result, some of the strongest brands around right now belong to TV shows. In the age of Peak TV, what can show brands teach us about storytelling and audience engagement? Continue Reading
One of the prevailing themes of 2017 so far has been the erosion of public trust in our key institutions. The Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual global study conducted by a respected communications marketing firm, confirms what many of us have felt: “trust is in crisis around the world.” For the first time since 2012, the public’s trust in government, business, media, and NGOs has declined significantly.
While there is a complex web of cause and effect that has culminated in a large-scale erosion of trust in these institutions, the end result is clear – a populace that is increasingly divided and suspicious of news, marketing, and media messaging. In the era of “fake news,” PR and marketing professionals must examine their methods and recalibrate their strategy in order to reach the general public in an authentic and credible way. But how? Continue Reading
Recent insights from Nielsen reveal that “multicultural consumers are transforming the U.S. mainstream… (p)ropelled by the twin engines of population growth and expanded buying power.” I explored the Nielsen data in a previous post, reaching the conclusion that in order for brands to serve this rapidly growing segment of multicultural superconsumers, diversity must be more than just a buzzword. When diversity of experiences, voices, and viewpoints drives a brand’s identity, communications strategy, and product development, it can authentically and successfully resonate with a multicultural market.
In addition to embracing a diverse set of influences, how can brands reach the young consumers who are poised to become major market forces over the next decade? In a time when consumer trust in major public institutions (including business) has been compromised, brand builders must strive for authenticity, communication, and a purpose-driven approach. Continue Reading
Recent Nielsen data confirms a seismic shift that is occurring in the demographics of American consumers. First released in 2015, Nielsen’s report on The Multicultural Edge revealed that multicultural consumers are “the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population.” While Hispanics, African-Americans, Asian-Americans and other multicultural groups currently make up around 40% of the population, they are on track to be a numeric majority by 2044.
This young and growing segment of the consumer population is already driving changing trends in groceries and beverages and is poised to greatly impact markets such as technology, entertainment, and fashion and beauty as well. This segment of consumers offers an exciting opportunity and a challenge for today’s brand-makers, entrepreneurs, and innovators. How will we respond? Continue Reading