OPINION: Marketing Society - Brands need to take on the rise of individualism

Who cares? In truth, nobody. Nobody really cares about what you do, say or think about your product, brand or company, unless you show them how it affects them, their life, their family, their health, their appearance, their wealth and their happiness.

Who cares? In truth, nobody. Nobody really cares about what you do,

say or think about your product, brand or company, unless you show them

how it affects them, their life, their family, their health, their

appearance, their wealth and their happiness.



Too many advertisers forget how selfish we all are. We won’t bother to

become even aware of a product, brand or company, unless it’s made clear

how it can help to make us feel prettier, richer or more contented.



I have a four-stage model of good corporate communications that many

advertisers and agencies forget when planning and executing

campaigns.



In every morning’s newspaper, and on every evening’s television, there

are advertisements which will fail, or not be as effective as they

might, because they forget one or more of the four stages. These

are:awareness (here’s who we are); involvement (here’s what we can do

for you); persuasion (here’s what we think); and action (here’s what we

want you to do).



Economic growth means consumers in Europe have been able to afford to

buy far more goods and services. The EU has meant far greater choice is

available from the supply side, and new media has meant different ways

of telling consumers what is available. However, social and cultural

changes have had a major impact over and above the greater

prosperity.



We are now far better educated, and therefore far more discerning about

what we buy. We are also far better informed - there is more information

available via the print and broadcast media, advertising, word of mouth,

education and the internet. We are far more individualistic, far less

deferential and much more tolerant of alternative lifestyles and values

than only a few years ago.



We are redefining what we expect from our institutions. Privatisation is

not just a desire to cut back the role of the state, but an

acknowledgement that many services are better and more efficiently run

by companies led by private- rather than public-sector values.



Companies are now expected to behave in a more socially responsible way,

meaning that they have to shoulder the broader social responsibilities

once deemed to lie with the state.



Environmentalism, which used to be a marginal preoccupation of pressure

groups, has become far more mainstream, and has evolved into a much

broader notion of social responsibility and sustainability. It now

covers social and economic issues, and is of vital importance to

companies seeking a licence to operate in the global community.



These changes have all sorts of implications for how we should be

researching consumer attitudes across Europe. The picture is arguably

far more complex and subtle than it was before. Usage and attitude

studies, brand tracking, concept testing and ad recall are all fine, but

their place is increasingly limited in post-material societies. Because

consumers are more individualistic in their outlook today, they are also

inclined to be far less brand loyal.



As people take on more complex and individualistic roles, then

successful brands will need to appeal to these wider roles.



Robert Worcester is chairman of MORI Social Research Institute and a

fellow of The Marketing Society.



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