Faced with an uneven political climate and widening economic inequality, many consumers made their voices heard in local and national elections for the first time in 2016. The uncertainty felt by the end of last year left many feeling anxious and the refugee crisis, fears over terrorism and the media’s coverage of Brexit helped to sharpen divides over globalisation.
Populations in many developed economies are becoming older, whilst also becoming more racially diverse. As the tension surrounding the globalisation debate continues to grow, consumers will seek new ways to live out their values and they will expect brands to help. This move to a more meaningful consumerism has changed the societal mindset, and 73% of consumers now believe that brands should do more than simply generate profit. Purposeful brands will find renewed opportunities in helping people understand their changing relationship to home – be that their nation, city or neighborhood.
This has influenced a split into two opposing consumer groups, New Global Citizens and Nation Nurturers.
These opposing groups make the consumer landscape particularly hard to navigate and brands should be considerate of these two groups that are seemingly worlds apart.
Brands should choose wisely which of these consumers they want to communicate with. However, both trends are ultimately about positive action. Consumers as a whole are looking for more stable, authentic, optimistic experiences independent of their beliefs on the refugee crisis and exiting the European Union.
New Global Citizens will remain committed to the idea and notions of an open and interconnected world. They will combat the feelings of anxiety surrounding globalisation with gestures of openness.
These consumers need to be served with campaigns that prove shared values or bring a glimpse of another culture to their doorstep.
So, think about campaigns that build bridges between people and cultures. A particularly strong example of this, is the recent #makelovenotwalls campaign from Diesel. Influenced by Trump’s agenda in America, the campaign is about tearing down walls to show that ‘a brighter and exciting tomorrow is possible’.
Exercise with caution, however. Creating such politically motivated campaigns can be a risk, as witnessed just last week, with Pepsi’s failed attempt to connect with mass audiences.
Nation Nurturers in contrast want to close doors, build closed societies and be defensive. While some among these may be motivated by unsavory values plenty simply want to bring meaningful positive change to their locality.
Nation Nurturers ‘local first’ outlook can be served by products and campaigns that show a real commitment to a particular place. Displays of faux-patriotism won’t fool customers for long however, as proved with Budweiser’s election campaigns.
Brands must consider who they are and who they want their consumers to be. In a world consumed by fractious and seemingly irreconcilable differences, it is becoming particularly important for brands to have a positive impact and prove their internal beliefs with outward actions.