Are we making or following the trends?
Senior Account Manager, Emily Hutson, weighs up the pros and cons of being an earlier adapter for new technology, joining the party too late, and the value of knowing your audience when choosing to set the trend.
As marketers, we pride ourselves on an awareness of popular culture and being able to tell a fad from an innovation that is here to stay. But are we setting these trends in our work or are we hitching our wagon to a star?
In the digital age, the zeitgeist of a moment can change in an instant. We counsel our clients to approach new technology with an air of caution that varies depending on the nature of their business. If you are dealing with a FTSE 500 with an array of C-suite staff and a conservative client base, to recommend they test the waters with TikTok or invest in influencer marketing would often be to do them a disservice. In reality until new tech has reached a point of maturity and market saturation they should be off the table to most established businesses, unless they are overwhelmingly popular with a large portion of their target audience.
With this in mind, marketing, and advertising in general, seems to go in waves. Take for example the rise of UGC ads in recent months. The prevalence of online video and the restrictions imposed on much of the world due to Coronavirus has led to a surge of ads featuring UGC content, or content designed to replicate the raw nature of UGC. Everyone from Nationwide to Tesco to ChildLine have cashed in on the familiar Zoom format, arguably leading to audience fatigue and no discernible difference between any ads featured on TV for the past year.
NSPCC / Lidl
As always the disruptor, challenger, and established brands that have maintained their underdog exteriors, are miles ahead. Back in 2018 Jack Wolfskin launched the #GoBackpack campaign that encouraged travellers to be a part of something bigger than their own adventure by submitting their videos to create a tapestry of travel memories.
And way back in 2009 Burberry launched The Art of the Trench a website that allowed Burberry wearers to share snaps of them in the brands coveted trench coat and receive likes and comments from admirers. Sound familiar? One year later Instagram was born and in 2011 Burberry joined. They recognised value in UGC after a huge rise in sales from the website and have gone on to replicate this on Instagram consistently selling out collections via the e-commerce function.
Good marketers sense change is coming, they pick up on trends and see patterns across sectors and audiences. Great marketers know timing is everything, they watch, learn and wait. Every campaign, brand and company is different, for some caution is key for others it’s a killer.