Brands as culture.

What marketers need to understand about the profound emotional connection consumers have to brands.

Remember when we used to consume out of habit and familial loyalty? When the bank we used was a legacy of our parents, and the same brands adorned our kitchen and laundry cupboards for years without fail?

Perhaps it’s nostalgia, but in the pre-digital era, our relationships with brands seems on reflection far more arbitrary. Unless we had a compelling reason to change—read: bad experience or price increase—as consumers we were fairly predictable and loyal.

Access was also a key factor in consumer choice. If it wasn’t available in-store, it simply wasn’t available to us.

In the pre-digital era, a brand that had your attention through advertising, probably had your loyalty.

Today, however, we find ourselves in a vastly different world—and indeed a global one. Online retailers such as Net-A-Porter boast more than 800 designer brands alone, bringing the once exclusive and destination brands to our fingertips—if not to our credit balance.

But it’s not just our relationship with luxury brands that has changed, FMCG brands haven’t been spared either. 

With household products now available through subscription services with feel good factors, and challenger brands able to capture deeply engaged audiences through online marketing, the question must be asked—what in a world full of options and access makes brand loyalty possible?

The answer is in the relationship between consumers and brands—it’s when brands become more than mere goods, but form part of the fabric of our culture. When their identity and ours intersect, you’ll find the secret magic of brands that deeply connect.

Emotion is what drives consumerism today.

The stories brands tell—and how they connect emotionally—defines their relevance.

According to Peter Grossman in his article for Forbes, ‘The goal for brands today, then, is this: tell stories that ingratiate your brand in the culture so you become a part of it, too.

To accomplish this, the most successful brands integrate aspects of the culture into their core message, and/or connect their brand to recent events or moments that reflect what they want to stand for.’

Peter Grossman, Forbes 2019

Brands don’t just reflect our culture, the most successful brands participate in shaping it. They are part of the narratives that capture the imagination and play an active role in how we live.

We wear them as part of our identity. We consume them to fulfil a sense of self. And, every time we purchase, we make a statement on our values, our likes and dislikes.

As consumers, we are more emotionally invested in our purchases than ever before, and in that is the secret to capturing your market—you must engage them emotionally.

It’s why it’s never been more important for brands to understand not just their target market, but who they are. What you as a brand represent—your purpose, values, personality—is now critical to the consumer you’ll attract.

How do you tap into culture?

Thankfully, not only has our engagement with brands changed, but our willingness to share our beliefs and values has also changed. The digital world is not only a source for consumers, but it provides through big data, a depth of understanding about the consumer that was not available before. 

Through AI, we now also finally have the means to makes sense of the sheer volume of consumer insights open source data offers. We can start to understand culture through the human data available online.

It might be a whole new world for brands, but it’s also a bold new world for consumer insights. And, once we understand consumer culture, we have a chance as brands to participate in it, and even shape it.

To learn more about how you can create a powerful brand today, contact us

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