These days, we often find ourselves thinking about the ways that technology is changing our lives. But while technologies and innovations certainly have a major effect on how consumers behave, the specific changes in our culture do as well, and can be just as impactful. As our society adopts new trends and new ideas — whether organically or in tandem with new technology — the marketing stories and strategies that we use to appeal to consumers must adapt to suit the mindset of the times. After all, there’s nothing worse than tone-deaf marketing — just look at the recent Peloton debacle.
With that said, here’s a look at some of the recent shifts in our culture that affect how brands must approach business practices and adjust how they market themselves accordingly.
- We are increasingly sustainably-minded
Now more than ever, individuals are focused on living sustainably and being environmentally-conscious. And research has shown that the majority of consumers, namely Gen Xers and Millennials, prefer brands that align with their own personal values. It’s why major brands have begun to enact plastic straw bans, and why companies like Google are actively looking to become carbon-neutral or reliant solely on renewable energy. Inversely, it’s also why there has been so much controversy over Coca-Cola’s dubious and unethical sustainability practices.
Seeing as how sustainability is on the forefront of consumers’ minds, brands should make the effort to demonstrate their efforts in being environmentally conscious as they formulate their marketing strategies. Highlighting products that are reusable or made with recycled materials can spark interest. Incorporating some form of corporate philanthropy can do the same, like with TOMS’ now famous One for One system.
- Influencers are far more prominent
Online culture as a whole, like in the real world, is made up of niches and specific communities. And within those communities are personalities, or influencers, who cultivate followings and audiences, typically on social media platforms. Influencers are appealing to consumers in a different way from most celebrities in that they are more relatable and authentic, which is a result of the social media format. This sets up influencers well to bring interest to certain brands, something that marketers should take note of and consider when formulating strategies.
Even without brand deals, these influencers function as early adopters of products and services. By bringing these products to the attention of their audience, they naturally create interest and can ultimately drive sales and higher brand engagement. With smart partnerships then, influencers represent a way for brands to break through the noise and garner direct attention from particular audiences.
- Society is more multicultural than ever
It’s fair to say that technology has allowed for a greater dissemination of cultural ideas from across the world, and results in a blending of sorts. This leads to an increasingly diverse array of behaviors, interests and lifestyles within a region. For example, K-pop has made major waves in the Western market in the past year, and Latin music is now more popular than genres like country or EDM in the U.S. On top of that, the people in the United States itself are becoming increasingly diverse.
Brands themselves are also susceptible to this global and multicultural influence in their marketing. Sure, it’s something that brands must become aware of as they grow to international levels. But the essential conclusion to be reached from this cultural change is that marketers must be fundamentally inclusive in their campaigns and strategies.
Aside from new technological advancements, cultural shifts are the other major influence on consumer behavior. Sometimes the two work together to create a change, and other times they can create movement on their own. But seeing as how focused we often are on technology and what it will do for us, it’s equally important to constantly take the pulse of society to understand what appeals to people and what doesn’t in relation to their constantly evolving preferences and beliefs.