Oreo’s recent quick-thinking “Dunk In the Dark” response to the power outage at this year’s Super Bowl put the spotlight on real-time branded content and reinvigorated the discussion about how brands need to become not just publishers but newsrooms. What’s driving this need? Today’s perpetually-connected consumers — 42% of US online adults and 37% in Europe — can engage brands at any place, any time, and at any velocity. Because of this, the sheer volume of creative content that brands must now churn out is forcing marketers and agencies to reexamine how they think about — and how they resource for — content. This challenge is not to be underestimated. But before you think about scale and real-time response, think about the story you want to tell to create brand advantage. To do this well, you need to first be true to yourself, second know your audience, and then engage your customers with a good story:
Know who you are. There’s a lot of content out there you can develop or share. So where do you start? Start with your brand. Guide your content development by your brand’s North Star, and make sure there is a logical connection between the content and your brand.
Like many marketing leaders out there, you are probably still coming to grips with understanding and working with Millennials — the 20-somethings being courted by media and marketing alike. But now there’s a whole new generation to understand: Generation Z. Who are they? Why should you care about them? And how can you build your brand with them? Here’s what we know.
Who is Gen Z?
Gen Z is the first generation born into a digital world. While there’s no one commonly accepted demographic definition, they are generally considered to be born in the mid-1990s through 2010. They are true digital natives who have grown up in the age of technology. The only world they know is a digital one — where they can connect anytime, anywhere, and to anyone. As a result, they are highly promiscuous when it comes to media consumption; they will be the first generation to consume more media online than offline. And Forrester’s Technographics® research shows that today 84% of Gen Zers multitask with an Internet-connected device while watching TV — using an average of 1.5 other Internet-connected devices.
Why should marketers care?
The leading edge of this generation is now aged 18 to 23, entering college and the workforce. They are financing more of their own brand and purchasing decisions and experimenting with new products and brands. This makes them a key target for many marketers seeking to forge life-long brand allegiance.
How can you build your brand with them?
Gen Zers are open to relationships with brands, so long as those brands are authentic and live up to their high expectations. To win the hearts and minds of Gen Zers, marketing leaders must:
I only just recently started watching Mad Men — a shock to many of my marketing peers and to regular folks who now think I’ve been living under a rock for the past five-plus years. I’ll save my thoughts on the show for another time, but what strikes me at least once during each episode is how much everything (tactics) and nothing (strategy) have changed. Similar fundamental challenges weigh on Sterling Cooper’s clients’ minds and on our CMO clients’ minds today: How do we connect with our consumers in a way that differentiates us from the competition? While Don Draper was limited to print and TV, thanks to digital platforms and tools, today’s CMOs have an almost-infinite number of options with which to build relationships with consumers.
2013 is the year that digital takes on a much more significant role in marketing and business strategies at business-to-consumer (B2C) organizations, and CMOs will be responsible for shepherding the change. 2013 is the year that CMOs will leverage digital tools to drive innovation of new compelling brand experiences — not as add-ons or enhancements but as integral elements of the brand’s messages, actions, and products that will differentiate your offering.
B2C CMOs, your 2013 resolutions should be to:
Embrace digital disruption. Digital disruption has remarkable strength. It's able to bulldoze traditional sources of competitive advantage faster, with greater power, at less cost than any force that came before it — and no business is immune. CMOs must make a strategic commitment to innovation and stop thinking about digital as another media channel. Digital is everywhere and should elevate marketing and business priorities for consumer benefit.
I’ve recently read a lot about the about the importance of engaging consumers to build your brand. And rightly so. Understanding and engaging with your customer is fundamental to brand building success. What gets less digital ink, though, is the equally important task of engaging your employees to build your brand. Not just your marketing department. Not just a few select social bloggers. But every rank-and-file employee, from tech support to customer service. Marketing leaders agree. In fact, in Forrester’s recent survey of marketing leaders, 100% of respondents agreed that “brand building is a company-wide effort that requires employees in all departments to be brand ambassadors.” But this same survey reveals that engaging the enterprise is where marketers struggle most. Marketing leaders are on solid ground when it comes to traditional brand building disciplines such as defining the brand North Star and using that brand promise to guide the brand experience. It is the next stage — creating a consistent brand experience across all functions and touchpoints — that is the chasm that most marketing leaders have yet to bridge. Forrester’s survey reveals that just 9% of respondents are true brand building leaders, who have brand building integrated and embraced across all aspects of the business. Most are still experimenting, but not integrating.
In the age of the customer, digitally empowered consumers are no longer sitting back waiting for brands to talk to them. They are seizing newfound opportunities on digital platforms to voice their wants, needs, and expectations. And data from our Consumer Technographics® panel shows that, in 2012, consumers expect more from brands. For example, they expect brands to create indispensable value and contribute to society.
But marketers are struggling to keep up with these changing consumer needs and higher expectations. They are disoriented in a world where they are losing influence with their consumers, losing control of their brand messages, and losing trust with consumers. Why? Because they are using old guidebooks and road maps that were designed for a traditional advertising world.
· Discover why, as a marketing leader, you must adapt your brand to consumers’ higher standards across this new brand-building landscape and must learn how to make a business case for investing in brand building.
· Plan for a new brand experience across all consumer touchpoints, from communications to retail experiences to products; a strategic plan to bring your vision to life and a road map to get you there.