2020 Arrives: How Brands and Marketers Can Survive the New Decade
We’re in a crisis of trust, no matter which way you look. With the rise of social media and the spread of misinformation over the last few years, it’s become harder and harder for all of us to differentiate fact from fiction. As such, there’s been heightened awareness around brand authenticity, as well as a growing focus on consumers’ real-world behaviors versus what they project online.
Brands have an obligation to adhere to what their customers care about, but given how easy it is for people to digitally project an aspirational lifestyle, it’s no wonder brands are having a tough time understanding who their consumers are and what they want from the brands they support. To combat this knowledge gap and align what consumers say with what they actually do, we need more real-world intelligence.
Commit to transparency and authenticity
Transparency has become a major topic of discussion over the last few years, with many individuals feeling violated when it comes to privacy. But despite transparency being essential, there is also a need for authenticity and a feeling of sincerity when it comes to being able to trust if a brand is right for you.
In a new survey conducted by Blis, we analyzed 2019 consumer behaviors to uncover what consumers liked most from brands in 2019 and what they would like to see more of from them in the coming year. We found that 41% of consumers’ favorite brand campaigns of 2019 were those that felt authentic and honest. Further, shoppers said they would be inclined to switch brands if another was more aligned with their values (second only to making the switch because of cost).
Of the brands observed in the study, Chipotle was one that stuck out among competitors. Consumers will likely never forget Chipotle’s various food safety scandals in 2015, but the CMO transformed the brand with a focus on authenticity and transparency with the “Behind the Foil” campaign, highlighting their attention to food safety in 2019. Blis’ data showed that brands that doubled down on authenticity and transparency benefited, with 70% of consumers more likely to go to Chipotle when compared to its competitor, Qdoba.
Get political, but be authentic
Unsurprisingly, respondents had intense feelings about brands displaying strong political and cultural stances. Despite consumers claiming that brands displaying political messaging was least important to them, brands that did take a political stance this year were 34% more likely than the average retailers to have high in-store traffic, further showing that what consumers say is important to them varies from what they are actually doing. And while some brands are taking that political and cultural messaging seriously and doing it well, others are missing the mark.
Nike will be remembered for standing with Colin Kaepernick when he took a stance against the NFL, and the company’s sales boomed as a result. However, other brands won’t be remembered in a similar way. With 2019 coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, Forbes reported that even though various corporations claimed to care about LGBTQ+ rights by changing their logos to the LGBTQ+ rainbow, many had also made large donations to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians, showing that their stated principles varied from were they allocated funds. This ties back to the need to be authentic in taking a purpose-driven stand.
Hindsight is 20/20 — How brands can use that to their advantage in 2020
Today’s consumer is overwhelmed — we have more information than ever before, but at the same time, customers are craving more unique experiences and feel that brands aren’t doing nearly enough to create one-of-a-kind, personalized experiences for them. Real-world intelligence on location can help brands determine consumer preferences and, in turn, better predict where they’ll go next and how best to serve personalized experiences with every visit.
In 2020, brands have a greater opportunity to start actually listening to their customers and break through the noise. 2019 was a year for activism and figuring out what really matters to consumers, but 2020 marks a new decade for consumers, brands, and retailers. In order to prepare for tomorrow’s world, marketers and advertisers have an obligation to adjust their 2020 strategies and really give consumers what they want; if not, they will find themselves becoming irrelevant among the hyper-aware generation fueling the next cultural shift.