Reflecting back on our 2013 forecast, we believed we were at an inflection point and that the past year would guide us toward a new path. As we begin 2014, we find that we’re at the start of a new phase, one grounded in the concept of redefinition. This is fueled by our having reevaluated what makes life good and confronting the world’s current challenges, recognizing that we will not get to the best outcomes by simply repairing and using band-aid measures. Redefinition is rooted in approaching solutions with a clean slate.
The process of redefinition allows us to reevaluate our core values with a fresh set of eyes with the potential to redefine how we live, how we consume, and how we connect. Our evolving definition of key values changes our behaviors, meaning savvy marketers should adopt new views for approaching consumer experiences to lead us to more promising solutions.
So as this age of redefinition dawns, we must ask ourselves what we value. At a macro level, as the world around us has changed, our old definitions of achievement, happiness, and connection have shifted. But how have we redefined our values? The leaning in consumer sentiment means marketers must redefine how they engage with consumers in ways that address their values and speak to how they now define success, happiness, and the “good life.”
At the brand level, marketers should reconsider the brand relationship: what brands will do for their consumers, how brands will fit in consumers’ lives, and how brands will progress consumers forward. Through effective redefinition of brands, marketers can enrich consumers’ lives by addressing consumers’ shifting values.
With this reshaping of macro and brand values in mind, our Sightings for 2014 address how marketers can impact consumers’ lives in today’s age of redefinition:
1. Bring It Home. The idea of re-shoring (as opposed to off-shoring or sending manufacturing abroad) has been gaining momentum. With economic benefits for the community and the agility to meet consumers’ desire for personalized products, marketers need to speak to the multiple benefits re-shoring provides the community to build brand loyalty and to encourage consumers to pay higher prices for locally made products.
2. Technology for All. Redefined values mean redefining the role of technology in our daily lives as technology crosses age, gender, cultural, and socio-economic boundaries. Marketers need to redefine not only who is served but also how they are served in order to transcend age, purpose, and place.
3. A Measured Life. Technology empowers us to track, measure, compete, reward, and act in ways that fundamentally change the way we live and provides support for people wanting to make beneficial life changes. To address this need for support, companies are offering technologies that track and evaluate data to have a positive impact on consumers’ daily lives and behaviors.
4. For What It’s Worth. Consumers are recalculating value, considering factors that go beyond benefits, features, quality, and utility. Shoppers are seeking greater transparency and clarity of message. Communicating benefits both at shelf and in marketing communications is key to reaching consumers during their purchase decisions.
5. Instinct Branding. In an increasingly crowded shopping and marketing environment with consumers who respond to visuals over words, brands need to reconsider the strength of their visual assets. When done right, visual cues functionally help consumers find the right product when bombarded with a deluge of choices by engaging with them on an emotional level. Every brand leader should seek distinctive brand assets that are truly ownable by the brand and a disciplined plan to make visual assets indelibly yours.
6. Living the Millennial Life. The Millennial way of life is enlightening Baby Boomers, influencing their choices from living arrangements to technology usage to purchasing behavior to brand preferences. Marketers should consider adapting their campaigns accordingly to meet Boomers’ needs as they continue to adapt a Millennial-esque lifestyle. To take advantage of the growth with both generations, marketers should consider investing in understanding Millennials and inspiring Boomers to come along.
As consumers redefine their values, behaviors, and lives in 2014, marketers must be ready to respond in new and innovative ways. Marketers must redefine how their brands interact, engage, and target a wide range of consumers. Moreover, in this age of redefinition, successful marketers will ask, “What will you value in 2014?”