Engaging today’s consumers requires an understanding of their shifting behaviors. Addressing findings in Weber Shandwick’s The New Global World of Public Relations report, Liz Wolstenholme, Head of Planning for Weber Shandwick UK Consumer Marketing, claims that there has been a rise of the “faction brand,” one rooted in authenticity but woven with a bit of myth. This fiction enhances individuality in an age where people can feel largely invisible.
For years, brands have operated in a certain way, championing authenticity and honesty above all else. In today’s digital age, however, brands are being called to reconsider the way they target consumers based on changing day-to-day behaviors. The Internet has created an “infocrazed” trend. Since there are no boundaries for information, consumers will research as much as they can before making a purchase, and will monitor the various brands and companies they interact with across numerous platforms. While brands strive to add a little magic to the marketing mix, they must adhere to ethical behavior and keep tabs on the minutiae that consumers can uncover in a heartbeat.
The potential to navigate all the information on the web has also created what Wolstenholme calls “beta living.” Consumers are thinking short-term and bite-size and instead of delving deeply into their findings about a brand or product, seize as much knowledge as possible rapid-fire in an attempt to be the first to learn, post, or tweet about it. Wolstenholme discusses how we are “continuous editors of our lives” and how “we’ll give things a go and if they don’t work out, we’ll quickly move onto the next big thing.” This creates a dilemma for brands when it comes to securing consumers’ loyalty and continued interaction with their offering.
Despite these challenges, today’s successful brands have one trait in common. They enable consumers to “eco-create.” According to Wolstenholme, the key to engaging consumers is accelerating personal enhancement. While behaviors may come and go, the search for meaning and personal satisfaction will be around forever. The brands that can leverage this idea will undoubtedly be the brands that endure the constant waves of behavioral change.