16 January 2014

For a keener sense of sight & sound

By Shaziya Khan, VP & Executive Planning Director (JWT, Mumbai)  

In the new year, resolve to listen to your customers and talk to them in their language.

As we look forward to a brand new year, it is time, again, for brand new resolutions. In other words, it is time to find fresh ‘takes’ on building an ever closer consumer-brand connection, one that is possible by staying very close to the evolving consumer, and consumption, context.

And then, participating in it rather than interrupting it via plans that convert these connections into compelling brand opportunities. These participation pointers for brands comprise 2014 resolutions for brand custodians. 

These are drawn from a global JWT report JWT 10 Trends for 2014 and Beyond and is based on proprietary research across developed markets and the BRICs. 

Resolution 1: I resolve to make experiences matter more than things. 

Data reveals that over 70 per cent of millennials value experiences over material things. Frank Rose, author, of the The Art of Immersion expresses it succinctly: “Young people have an entirely different relationship … they don’t just want to sit there and watch it anymore”. Brand custodians are advised to find inspiration in immersive theatre to enable customers to go deeper into brand stories. And the theatre analogy brings alive another key aspect of creating experiences - which is producing them immaculately, so they are cutting-edge, imaginative and beautifully executed.

Resolution 2: I resolve to speak visually. 

The consumer’s world is shifting to a visual vocabulary of photos, video snippets and other imagery that is supplanting the need for text. Sixty-eight per cent of millennials agree that visuals are more powerful than text. The technology editor of The Huffington Post argues “images give us a really effective storytelling medium that we relate to”. On Facebook, the 350 million photos that are uploaded each day are proof of the visual skew in modern times. In a similar vein, mobile photography is credited with enabling the publishing of “little visual poems”. Visual candy is the rule.

As the CEO of photo app company Aviary says: “As the mobile and social consumer is discerning, the images posted must be native to the underlying service and match its tone and content to deliver authentic communication.” Brands thus must rethink their visual aesthetic and re-interpret brand assets for a visual age. They should focus on how to convey messages visually and train teams to become more visually literate. 

Resolution 3: I resolve to feel JOMO – joy of missing out. More consumers are drawn to focusing on the moment and shutting out distractions. This has resulted in FOMO (fear of missing out), making way for JOMO. Seventy-one per cent of millennials are interested in learning how to improve their focus. Brands have an opportunity to explain how they enable consumers to savour the moment more fully rather than mindlessly rushing from one task to another. Mindful living is a term that describes this resolve - a stress-free and focused lifestyle. It cues several avenues for brand connections such as simple pleasures, de-teching, ‘live a little’, the art of eating well, health and happiness hand in hand. A 2013 video which gained 32 million views in less than three months, called I Forgot My Phone, captures the essence of the new experiences people miss out on when they are busy with their phones. 

Overview: Not only are these pointers full of possibilities in themselves, but from the lens of India they make for an especially rich brand-building canvas. For instance, the experiences resolution opens up multiple avenues for embracing the rich diversity in depth of consumption and regional cultural contexts of our consumer base. Visual literacy resolution encourages us to tap into and build on our evocative ethnic visual sensibility. And last but not least, the mindfulness resolution demands that we facilitate consumers to absorb and adapt brand-related behaviour in a way that is full of relevance and meaning to their lives and values. 

The resolutions are identified. Over to brand custodians to listen in. 

Happy new ear! 

The article was first published in The Hindu Business Line (Jan 2, 2014)

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