Contributed by Nanda Sibol, Senior Director, Brand Strategy, Anthem
Reflecting back on our 2013 forecast, we believed we were at an inflection point and that the past year would guide us toward a new path. As we begin 2014, we find that we’re at the start of a new phase, one grounded in the concept of Redefinition. This is fueled by us reevaluating what makes life good and confronting the world’s current challenges, recognising that we will not get to the best outcomes by simply repairing and using band-aid measures. Redefinition is rooted in approaching solutions with a clean slate.
With the economy more stable and starting to look up in certain parts of the world, we are again strong and resourced to take on these challenges with a renewed sense of purpose. In fact, the process of redefinition allows us to reevaluate our core values with a fresh set of eyes with the potential to redefine how we live, how we consume, and how we connect. How we define success, happiness, intelligence, individuality, even philanthropy in the upcoming year will all influence how we will behave. Our evolving definition of these key values changes our behaviors, our relationships, and our consumption and encourages savvy marketers to redefine how they approach consumers. This age of redefinition will take new views for approaching consumer experiences to lead us to more promising solutions.
So as this age of redefinition dawns, we must ask ourselves what we value. At a macro level, as the world around us has changed, our old definitions of achievement, happiness, and connection have shifted. The Great Recession has changed our perception of success and shifted our values away from focusing solely on achievements or monetary success. But how have we redefined our values? Do we focus on ourselves or on society at large? Aim to achieve aspirational goals or deliver on practical results? Stay connected to our past or allow ourselves to be inspired by the future? The leaning in consumer sentiment means marketers must also redefine how they engage with consumers in ways that address their values and speak to how they now define success, happiness, and the “good life.”
At the brand level, marketers should reconsider the brand relationship: what brands will do for their consumers (help them achieve personal goals or support personal beliefs), how brands will fit in consumers’ lives (be a brand that “feels” right or a brand that meets a consumer’s particular needs), and how brands will progress consumers forward (keep consumers rooted in heritage or help them look to the future). Through effective redefinition of brands, marketers can enrich consumers’ lives by addressing consumers’ shifting values.
With this reshaping of macro and brand values in mind, our Sightings for 2014 address how marketers can impact consumers’ lives in today’s age of redefinition:
(1) Bring It Home
The idea of re-shoring (as opposed to off-shoring or sending manufacturing abroad) has been gaining momentum. The economic benefits are clear—bringing jobs back to municipalities. It also provides a flexible manufacturing base that allows for agility and speed, which caters to consumers who are becoming more demanding of made-to-order, personalized products. From manufacturers of watches to chocolate to automobiles, brands are connecting with consumers in their backyards to build consumer loyalty. Quite often bringing production home can lead to higher prices. To persuade consumers, marketers need to speak to multiple benefits from reduced impact on the environment to greater personalization to better quality to long-term economic and community impact.
(2) Technology for All
In today’s technology-driven economy, redefined values mean redefining the role of technology in our daily lives. Digital and mobile technologies are no longer luxuries but necessities for all. Indeed, the old paradigm of technology being the domain of the young and affluent no longer holds sway. The audience for technology crosses age, gender, cultural, and socio-economic boundaries, encouraging marketers to redefine not only who is served but also how they are served. If technology is now for all, it must transcend age, purpose, and place.
(3) A Measured Life
Human behaviour has always been difficult to change. We want to live healthier lives, but most of us lack the support structure (e.g., a coach, supportive community, knowledge, reward system) needed to keep us motivated and focused on achieving our goals. Now, more than ever, it appears that technology will empower us to track, measure, compete, reward and act in ways that fundamentally change the way we live. To address this need for support, companies are offering technologies that track and evaluate everything from fitness habits to dog ownership to motivating through positive reinforcement. The key to lasting consumer loyalty is utilising data and technology to have a positive impact on consumers’ daily lives and behaviours as they look for more holistic brand experiences.
(4) For What It’s Worth
Consumers are recalculating value, considering factors that go beyond benefits, features, quality, and utility. They want a more comprehensive experience, adding to the value equation by considering a product’s purpose, simplicity, and convenience in purchase. Moreover, shoppers are seeking greater transparency and clarity of message. This means that marketers must provide this clarity by redefining the value equation to meet consumers’ changing values. Communicating these benefits both at shelf and in marketing communications is key to reaching consumers during their purchase decisions.
(5) Instinct Branding
In an increasingly more crowded shopping and marketing environment, and with today’s communications culture demanding fewer words and more visuals (think Twitter, Pinterest and Vine) brands need to reconsider the strength of their visual assets. It’s now imperative to make them ownable, leveraging elements such as color, texture, artistic treatment, and shape in order to make consumer connections in a split second. When done right, visual cues functionally help consumers find the right product when bombarded with a deluge of choices. Further, visual assets emotionally make consumers feel like the brand understands them or helps them feel a part of something bigger. Every brand leader should seek distinctive brand assets that are truly ownable by the brand. In today’s marketplace, visual assets are more important than ever, so it’s critical to have a disciplined plan to make them indelibly yours.
(6) Living the Millennial Life
The old paradigm of older generations influencing younger generations has shifted. With more Millennials living back at home and there being a larger age gap between them and their parents, it is apparent that Millennials are now influencing Baby Boomers. Today, we find the Millennial way of life enlightening Boomers, influencing their choices from living arrangements to technology usage to purchasing behavior to brand preferences. Representing approximately $3 trillion in spend, Boomers have considerable purchasing power. Marketers should consider adapting their campaigns accordingly to meet Boomers’ needs as they continue to adapt a Millennial-esque lifestyle. To take advantage of the growth with both generations, marketers should consider investing in understanding Millennials and inspiring Boomers to come along.
As consumers redefine their values, behaviours, and lives in 2014, marketers must be ready to respond in new and innovative ways. Marketers must redefine not only their brands themselves but also how those brands interact, engage, and target a wide range of consumers. Moreover, in this age of redefinition, successful marketers will ask, “What will you value in 2014?”
Nanda Sibol brings over 15 years experience in strategy consulting, market research, brand marketing and general management. As Senior Director, Brand Strategy at Anthem, she’s worked on a variety of strategic assignments encompassing portfolio strategy, consumer insights, naming, brand architecture and brand positioning for CPG and retail clients: Avery, Safeway, Central Garden & Pet, 7-Eleven and Pulmuone. Prior to Anthem, Nanda was a Marketing Director at Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines where she led the premium wine portfolio and also served as head of strategic planning. Earlier in her career, she worked for The Gillette Company, Information Resources, Inc. and Braxton Associates. Nanda has an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a B.S. from Brown University.