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Brand Evolution: Learn to share and be a natural selection

Brand Evolution: Learn to share and be a natural selection

Opinion 
23 May 2018

Warning: Demographics can seriously damage your brand. Marketing and branding, like anything else, must evolve or die. The world has moved on. A lot. So too has consumer behaviour and, as such, the way we measure consumers has to adapt to remain relevant. What may have been useful to marketers then doesn't necessarily mean it’s fit for purpose now.

Strategy analysts, Forrester, put forward this very argument in their recent survey that challenges the use of traditional demographics as an effective method of measuring consumer behaviour and instead propose segmenting consumers by their shared attitudes, experiences and motivations that fuel ‘customer empowerment’. (‘Empowered Customer Segmentation Study’, Forrester.com).

The ‘empowerment’ of the consumer that Forrester is acknowledging is in their recognition of the relevance of the personal and emotional interactions consumers have with a brand. With this acknowledgement, they go on to challenge the relevance of the existing method of categorisation based on external and fundamental factors (age, income, location etc.). Instead, they propose an intuitive analysis of a group, which is a far more realistic reflection of current consumer behaviour.

More specifically, it’s about recognising that the way in which we engage with favoured brands is personal, not passive. For the few brands who get it right, consumer interaction is conspicuous, orchestrated, carefully researched and self-absorbed. More and more, we want what we buy to be an extension of who we are, so much so that we have become the curators of our own consumption universe. The result? Intuitive brands are evolving and responding with a more personalised and opinionated stance that aims to resonate with like minds, not aim at mass appeal. And the more opinionated you are, the better it is to those who share that opinion. Because sharing is the key to success in modern branding terms.

The impact of the social media meteor brought about this fundamental change and shift in the consumer-brand power dynamic at the cost of the brand dinosaurs whose size and dominance made them slow to adapt. When you’re used to being at the top of the food chain, sharing the spoils isn’t an easy option; it’s hard to keep up the evolutionary pace when you’re adapted to a different age. Coke thrived at a time where simply stating you were ‘The Real Thing’ was enough. Now the bitter irony is that the soft drinks giant is seen as anything but real and should perhaps practice what they preach when they ask you to ‘Share a Coke’.

The ‘challenger’ brand was the evolutionary success story, the new breed that emerged from the digital age. Purpose built for a personal approach and perfectly adapted to thrive in the new environment, they set a new brand narrative and the standard for the future. One that put the consumer up front and centre and one that was prepared to share from the very start.

Shared control is why Glossier is taking the beauty world by storm. It’s a brand that’s perfectly demonstrating the next stage in the challenger evolutionary process; one born from a blog. Its very existence stems from a gestation period of listening to, and communicating with, its audience. In gaining a complete understanding of their needs and desires and obtaining cult status long before it had anything to sell. Glossier has built an army of loyal fans, they are active participants with an emotional part-ownership that goes beyond a financial vested interest.

Utilising social media to share your brand is essential to surviving and thriving in today’s digital age. The success of our very own Electric Ink brand is proof of this. It was a brand built to be shared. We set out to be singular, distinct and happy to polarize opinion. We targeted our audience by experience and attitude and created a world that they recognised; one that reflected their ideal and one they wanted to inhabit online. And share. Its success is built on word of mouth not marketing campaigns and word of mouth is hard currency in a world of distrust and disloyalty.

Electric Ink doesn’t rely on traditional market segmentation, it doesn’t categorise by gender, age, income, ethnicity or how many kids our consumers have. Our narrative is about a shared experience, not social class. We’re with Forrester when we look to the ‘empowered consumer’. Sharing is caring and when people care about your brand, you instinctively become a natural selection.

– Zoe Harper, Brand Strategist