Branded Behaviours: Where We Are in 2016

  A new year means something to all of us. Hope, doubt, a chance to start again – a whole slew of thoughts and feelings triggered by little more than the tick over of a number. When that five became a six, the impossible became possible, and certainties were once more set in motion. 

  As far as marketing goes, it’s also a convenient opportunity to categorise failure and success. The tools and strategies of 2015 will, at least in mind, be confined to the year of their inception. Change will occur because it must. Branding campaigns of 2015 will infuse a new wave of ideas, innovations and strategies. It is, and has always been, the name of the game – to envisage progression by what it is not. It is not the past; it is the future.

  But what does this mean for the targeted generations? If consumer behaviours are shaped by branding, then those behaviours must similarly be in a state of flux. What is right, wrong or acceptable shifts with technological revelations; marketing patterns that are as powerful and fleeting as Oscar-night hashtags.   

  And with such a dramatic impact, it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on what these behaviours are. In essence, to know where we’re headed by where we are today.

  Social media has shaped 21st century marketing. According to a recent study, 32% of Millennials consider Facebook to have more authority than print, a figure which halves amongst Boomers.[1] What this shows is that the dependency upon and trust within social media has increased with each generation, as increasingly social media is used as a marketing tool, proliferated by popular culture and a wider IT literacy.

  More aptly, it shows how corporate marketing and commercialism have successfully penetrated the social sphere, to the point that they are indistinguishably intertwined. Advertisements and commercial temptations pervade all digital space. From sponsored news stories to social media, and everything in between, branding has effectively normalised the selling of products and services within social circles. It’s no longer the unwelcome phone call or the unsuspected knock on the door. Rather than sticking up a ‘No Solicitors’ sign, the behaviour of our younger generation dictates a welcoming mat, in a far more intimate and familiar relationship with commercial selling.

  What this has created is a highly-strung generation of consumers driven by instant gratification. Buzz words and trigger marketing are the hook, line and sinkers to this new proverbial pool of game – Facebook and the like. 

  Unprecedented access helps companies overcome individual discomfort of being openly sold to. Recent market research has shown that 51% of consumers are more likely to buy a product after liking them on Facebook.[2] Buying has become cool and sexy – with branding campaigns that have successfully bridged the gap between corporation and consumer. For our Generation Y, the door-to-door salesman is now their friend – their buddy – somebody that understands their needs and desires.

What does 2016 branding mean for consumer behaviours?

  It means welcoming the salesman into our house. We want what he sells and we want it now. He understands us and he knows our family and friends. This has been incremental. Progress made throughout a decade, year-by-year, developing a relationship first of trust, then of dependency. It’s a behaviour of willingness – a wish to be sold to, electrified by the readiness and availability of what we want.

  In 2015 we let the salesman into our house; in 2016 we’re about to invite them to stay for dinner. And that’s not to suggest something pernicious. It’s just change; it’s the new year. 

[1] Acquity Group, 2015
[2] Chadwick Martin Bailey