The term ‘prosumer’ was originally derived from the word’s ‘producer’ and ‘consumer’, meant to explain the active role consumers would play in customising the goods they purchase. In today’s world, the term has transformed to allude more so to customers who are strong product and brand advocates.
Consumers have now become the voices for brands, from social media influencers to peer reviews, the consumer is in complete control of how brands are perceived, and even their success in the market, based on not purely the products and services they provide, but the values brands hold and stand by.
In 2020, it’s no longer enough to provide exceptional products and services and echo the trends which happen around them, brands that are able to stay top of mind go the extra mile and create niches within the cultures they are embedded in. They match the ‘altruistic’ values which today’s consumer aspire for and in turn, inspire mass spectators.
With more power and influence being placed in the consumers hands, the expectations for brands are higher than ever. What does today’s powerful consumer expect from the brands around them?
Culture is the (not so) new marketing. In today’s politically volatile landscape, brands need to be able to speak up and make a stand for what they believe to create the right course of action within cultural conversations. Highsnobiety and BCG’s recent report suggests that brands building the longest lasting relationships with customers need to be able to offer authentic narratives and create honest cultural connections with their audience.
With only 11% of Highsnobiety readers claiming they don’t want to hear from fashion brands during Covid-19, it is evident that consumers now rely on their favourite brands to not only provide their favourite fashion, but to spearhead community support during times of duress.
“Consumers won’t remember the latest product you came out with, but what you did for the community in times of crisis”
Brands who truly stand out in this new environment go beyond responding to trending topics, but create those conversations, making them culturally credible in their own right. These brands essentially widen their audience from just product advocates to spectators looking to be inspired and challenged through their daily interactions with the brand. An important role to play in the consideration and customer acquisition process of the purchasing life cycle.
Digital detoxification has been a long time coming, and even further expedited through Covid-19. With the increased amounts of content consistently and rapidly being released, viewers have become overwhelmed, and the content overload has become acknowledged for its negative impact on viewers health.
With this in mind, customers have become hyper aware of the information they decide to consume. With mental health at the forefront of everyone’s minds, users are even more aware of the anxiety inducing habit of mindless scrolling, and actively choosing the content they want to consume. This in turn has allowed consumers to follow and engage with brands who they believe best compliment their lifestyle and provide a positive addition to their daily lives.
BOTTOM UP APPROACH
Whilst previously brands where the ones who dictated the next trending movement, now-a-days the roles have reversed, and consumers are the ones who decide what will be trending next. Brands therefore act as an extension of customers inspirations, not the source of them.
From Louis Vuitton hiring Virgil Abloh to Converse hiring Tyler the Creator, brands understand the power of collaborating with those which share their brands DNA and reflect their target community’s mindset. American marketing expert, Marty Nuemeier said: ‘A brand is not what you say it is, it’s what they say it is’.
Brands can try their best to control the narrative surrounding their perception, however ultimately the true narrative is born through its audience, the co-signs of credible figures and the right retailers.
The discerning factor in using public figures or ‘influencers’ to support your brand image is to choose judiciously. The individual’s image must authentically fit the brand’s values to incite true movement when inspiring and garnering a new audience.
With political uproar regarding the BLM movement across the USA, and rippling across the world, consumers were passionately asking brands to show percentages of black workers who were in senior positions, to back up the solidarity claims brands where releasing. On top of taking a stand, consumers expect to be provided proof behind the claims.
Creatively, consumers are also willing to call out brands that steal or mimic designs which are not their own intellectual property. For many, authenticity trumps a good deal and aesthetics. There is a reason Instagram account DietPrada, known for exposing brands who lift designs of others, has over 2 million followers (at time of writing). Consumers do not want to be associated with brands who are negatively associated with the ‘imitator’ tag.
The increasingly sceptical consumers of today’s age do not only need proof of action, but they want to ensure that those actions are not performative, i.e. just for show. In the future we will see brands who repeatedly stand by their word, gain the ultimate loyalty and dollars of the next generation.
Today’s consumer is more sceptical and aware than ever before. The availability of social media allows them to communicate their thoughts and opinions regarding the brands they believe are making a difference, and vice versa, shedding light on brands they feel could do better.
With heaps of information constantly available at their fingertips, they have realised that they have the power to make or break brands, personalities and public figures. The younger generation is now becoming increasingly discerning about who they spend their money with and use their collective responsibility to call out negative behaviour.
In the creation of campaigns, brands must be able to actively answer to the new cultural prosumer, putting their minds at ease by catering to expectations and keeping up with the ever-evolving cultural environment. At LIGHTBLUE, we stand by ‘Brand Adventures that Hack Culture’, meaning we inherently look at our surroundings to create propositions that best suit your brands values, whilst maintaining relevancy in today’s landscape. Get in touch for a consultation.