Shifting From Marketing To Consumers: To Mattering To People


Shifting From Marketing To Consumers - To Mattering To People

Today’s marketing leaders are incentivized to seek the economies of globalized branding strategies.  Global unity requires compromise, collaboration and a type of participative decision making that seems to run counter to marketing to the always-on ‘consumer’, driving an insatiable need for marketing with speed, authenticity and scale.

Whilst many global consumer companies have decentralized marketing accountabilities, the pressure on marketing spend, the proliferation of digital channels and the organic spread of content creates the perfect conditions to unify the central premise: the brand Purpose.  Here are three incredibly simple, yet fundamentally large shifts to help global brands to win in local markets.

1.  Offer People Radical, Game-Changing Benefits To Their Quality Of Life

People don’t just want better products and services: they want better lives.  Havas Media has conducted a companion study to the UN Global Compact-Accenture authoritative CEO study on sustainability.  We surveyed 30,000 people across 20 countries.

In emerging markets – where most global brands are seeking substantial growth – people are optimistic about the future, they anticipate marked improvement to their quality of life and they’re highly engaged with brands.  In developed markets – where global brands seek to sustain a large part of their sales – people are largely negative in their outlook for the future and anticipate negative impacts on their quality of life.

Whether optimistic or negative, people globally expect brands to help them attain the best possible future.  In fact, globally people think brands are as responsible as governments for improving our lives – a metric that has increased by 15% in the past 2 years alone.  Yet our study showed that whilst brands are performing broadly on traditional factors of price, quality and being ‘innovative’, marketers are under-performing in driving home 6 of the top 10 factors people nominated as influential to their purchasing.

These un-met needs include benefits to personal health, life satisfaction, and helping people consume in ways that are better for the environment.  So instead of focusing only on new product features, price or value for money, brands can win across markets by relating their Purpose to people’s quality of life.

2.  Honestly, Transparently And Authentically Demonstrate Purpose Beyond Profit

The Millennial generation, now economically active, is shaping a new, emerging consciousness of how we spend, not just what we spend our money on.  In short, people think companies should help us buy into a better work and are targeting their daily spending to shape the world they want to live in.

Today most brands CSR or sustainability exists largely in an organisational silo, disparate from brand marketing, with a few notable exceptions.  The expanding need for honesty and transparency is fuelled by technology and the social spread of content through multiple channels, without brand’s intervention.  The new ‘honesty’ is a holistic programme of communication, well beyond the abstract metrics of sustainability reporting.

Across our global study sample, a top 5 or top 10 challenge in every country surveyed is ‘ending corruption’.  The starkest finding is that ending corruption is an issue people believe business should address.  For example in the UK, ending corruption ranks third, after creating jobs and economic growth, as an issue business should address.

Decades of greenwashing has culminated in unprecedented distrust.  Yet there is hopefulness and brands that enable their consumers to contribute to improving their lives, their communities and society’s problems are winning.  In fact the pathway to realize brand preference lies in radical transparency on the impact brands make and those they enable.  From Nigeria to Germany, motivators to choose one brand over another include ‘being aware of its positive social impact’ and ‘letting me take part in causes’.

3.  Stop Marketing To Consumers, Start Mattering To People

Fundamentally, seeking a price premium for being more purposeful is a flawed strategy.  So is leveraging charity relationships to stimulate short term purchasing: it’s just short-termism in a new dressing.  Our study found the majority of people won’t pay more for ‘better’ products and services – and why should they pay for brands to do the right thing?

And across the 20 countries surveyed, people think it’s good for business to give to charity, but it’s not a motivator to brand preference or purchase.  Latin America is the outlier, where supporting charity ranks higher at 16 out of 25 possible purchase motivators.

People want more for their lives and they want business to help them get there.  They’re aware of the challenges we face globally and they seek brands that offer meaningful benefits to them, to society and to the world.  This is the most empowered generation ever.  And brands that offer meaning – not utopia, just authenticity and purpose – can win.

For example 90% of working Chinese mothers – a segment the size of the US population – will actively recommend brands to friends, family and colleagues when they are aware of its positive social impact.  Since a vast majority of these women post on micro-blogs, this amounts to organic marketing for a brand that money can’t buy.

The business case for purpose is simple: People are twice as likely to choose a more responsible brand over its competitors when all else is equal.  More than half of people globally – rising to 78% in Latin America – say they are loyal to brands whose purpose beyond profit is clear and credible.  And people are up to seven times more likely to recommend brands to others when they are aware of its positive impact on making our lives more meaningful.

This article is co-written with Kate Cox (Managing Partner at Havas Media)