Indeed, trends depict shifts in the market and predict buyer behaviour, and by so doing help marketers to plan and strategise. Simply put, trends (once understood) help build focused brands with enduring value for the consumer.
As we move closer to 2020 and leave behind a tumultuous decade that has significantly impacted the value chain in many categories, brands that don’t adopt a model that considers the consumer will simply cease to exist in a meaningful and competitive way. In other words, to remain relevant, valued and wanted, winning brands in 2016 will need to focus on a consumer-led approach, irrespective of market trends and predictions.
So how exactly does a brand lead and win with its consumers this year?
The connectedness of things, people and data is changing the way we live, work and consume information. But this connectivity is only as valuable as the insight that we, as marketers, extract from it.
Brands that will succeed in 2016 are those that will consume data through a human lens and uncover insights that truly understand the psychology behind basic human drivers…and then turn these into meaningful opportunities for engagement.
A great example of this is the innovative Amazon Dash Button introduced in 2015. The Dash button predicts when consumers will run low on items such as frequently used household products or personal hygiene items. This insight allows the consumer to re-order these items with the click of a real-life button that is connected to an Amazon account. An order notification is sent to Amazon, and is automatically processed to retrieve, pack and ship the ordered items to the consumer. By harnessing technology, Amazon can analyse customers’ consumption behaviour and use this data to drive relevance – proof that ‘insight’ can be leveraged as a competitive advantage!
Advances in technology and a more empowered consumer have steered us into a time marked by co-creation and personalisation. The value chain has evolved from a chain of command whereby a product is pushed down and accepted by the consumer, to today’s ‘new’ value chain whereby consumer demand is no longer measured by rands spent but by a brand’s ability to deliver on consumers’ personal demands and expectations.
Brands that will win in 2016 are those that use this to better understand their audience and deliver consumer fit solutions and an intuitive brand experience that will cement the relationship between brand and consumer.
Brands need to recognise the importance of progressing from one-way, non-interactive communication to two-way, interactive consumer engagement. Brands will no longer be seen as just a mark of product or quality difference, but rather perceived as being characterised by multiple consumer interactions predominately influenced by an emotional connection.
And, just as consumers will demand personally relevant products, they will also demand a better brand experience. This means that successful brands in 2016 will need to actively, willingly and seamlessly engage and involve consumers in the brand, and use these interactions to forge lasting brand connections and loyalty.
A good example of a brand building this connection is the partnership between Antwerp’s Hotels and Pimkie (a French fashion brand). Together, they have forged an activation themed ‘Mini Fashion Bar’. This involves stocking hotel rooms with mini wardrobes consisting of clothes and accessories suited to the weather and activities in the local area. And, just like a regular mini bar, hotel guests can pay for items selected when checking out of the hotel. Through this involvement, Pimkie has seamlessly brought its brand to the consumer in a way that is relevant and valuable.
More than ever before, brands will need to re-adjust their approach to consumers. Through insight, intuition and involvement, brands will need to inspire devotion and drive emotional connections that will transform consumers into brand advocates. So, winning brands in 2016 will be those that put the consumer first and hold true to the fact that marketing is - first and foremost - about the consumer.