strategic thinking marketing
This is a post by Abbie Dubin-Rhodin

What consumers want

What if, with a single ‘like,’ you could understand exactly which creative execution was most likely to result in a purchase? As luck would have it, you can…sort of. Thanks to an app that mined years of psychographic data from the early days of Facebook, we now know that a single like is enough to predict a personality trait. From that identified personality trait, brands can release personalised creative that a specific customer is more likely to engage with, lowering cost-per-acquisition and creating a more streamlined path to purchase.

So it’s possible, but is it viable? A recent article by Mumbrella explores the possibility that Facebook may be doing just that with a select set of clientele. In an age where extreme retargeting sees users followed across the internet by the socks they clicked an ad for 6 months ago, psychographics have the potential to cancel out the white noise and present consumers with only that which truly interests them.

Bringing society into the boardroom

At Edge, we utilise a model known as SPICE to articulate the ways in which a client’s brand is bringing its purpose to life for a set of different stakeholders – Society, Partners, Investors, Consumers, Employees. With some stakeholders – investors and consumers most readily – it’s easy for a brand to identify how it has set about acting on its purpose to their stakeholders’ benefit. For other stakeholders, particularly Society at large, it’s more difficult, more ambiguous. After all, sales aren’t made through cultural osmosis, and society is a massive moving target.

However, a number of companies are recognising the need to engage at a societal level. This is typically executed through Corporate Social Responsibility (or CSR) activities, for which limiting climate change is a popular topic. But as Richard Branson said in 2012 “our only option to stop climate change is for industry to make money from it.” So what happens when it starts impacting the bottom line?

A study described in the Harvard Business Review explored how, over a 10-year period, five large corporations in Australia sought to “translate the grand challenge of climate change into strategies, policies, and practices over an extended period of time.” The study identified three distinct stages of incorporating the goal of ‘reducing climate change’ into their broader business plans – framing, localising, and normalising. While the first two stages demonstrated the ways in which corporations brought climate change from an ambitious ‘big idea’ for the business to measurable internal and external actions, the third represented the roll back.

The roll back isn’t because the problem has been solved and the brand’s commitment to society has been met. On the contrary, it’s because, while good for PR, social currency isn’t paying the bills. To truly bring your brand’s purpose to life for the society stakeholder, the purpose must be developed with them in mind. Society must be considered an equal player on par with investors and consumers. Otherwise, when times are tough, the needs of the many lose out.

The recommendation is coming from inside the house

Most of the brand decisions we make every day are low-involvement. They involve little cognitive wrestling on our part before a decision is made based on some functional ‘benefit’. Maybe it’s cheaper, perhaps it’s the brand advertised on the bus shelter at your stop. Either way, you choose it, for no other reason that you remember it. Recall is a powerful metric. It’s one that brands, particularly those in low-involvement purchasing categories, put millions of dollars towards increasing annually. And, until recently, brands had the monopoly on building recall within these categories.

Enter Alexa. And Siri. And Google. These voice-activated digital assistants have shifted the point of purchase from in-store to in-home. No longer does a consumer need to go to the store when they realise they’re out of an item, they merely inform Alexa, who then scours databases for a product to meet their owner’s need. The decision no longer is in the hands of the consumer, whom brands have spent years and millions of dollars grooming to recall their product at the exact point of purchase, but rather in a bot whose loyalty can’t be nourished.

Marketing Week looks towards a future when brands no longer own their customer relationships – and it may not be very far off.