When authenticity is obsolete and the celebrity brand is outdated, how can brands expect to win over customers with their marketing strategies without resorting to the much maligned hard-sell?
I firmly believe (and hope) that 2015 was the year of Peak Kim Kardashian. The undeniably attractive celebrity was plastered on every screen, selfie and coffee table book and her ubiquitous bodycon clothes and caked-on contour became postmodern allegories for a year that marked *gulp*, a decade and a half since the millenium.
In 2016 though, Kim seems to have taken a break from her aggressive expansion strategy of product licensing (or maybe I'm just reading Buzzfeed less) and once more, the familiar cycle consumers have fallen into of craving authentic, independent brands in favour of celebrity driven, mass produced tat seems to be resettling.
Guys, we have a problem. Authenticity died long ago. Authenticity died when you stopped going to your local blacksmith. Authenticity died when the world went online and could no longer see and touch the birthplace of it's consumer goods. Authenticity died when digital photography replaced the analogue and we could manipulate our own personal images to make them more vibrant, better composed, or more airbrushed.
These supposedly stealthy marketing techniques are easily spotted by young, tech savvy social media users who wince at every considered product placement post on Instagram rather than 'click buy' like many companies believe they will.
So what can brands turn to when authenticity is truly lost, and almost everyone knows it?
Perhaps it's time for brands to focus anew on their features and benefits, rather than senselessly attaching a big name to themselves and wait for the cash to roll in; focus on the value you can bring to the consumer and make the purchase all about their needs and desires, rather than a robotic celebrity endorsement. Perhaps it's time to reinstate the 'expert' as the friendly customer-facing communication vessel of the company.
By creating marketing literature and content around how the product can guide, aid or otherwise improve customers lives, brands can appeal to a recurring trend for self-improvement, fulfilment and the ever-present 'lifestyle brand,' for whom the functionality of the product is surpassed by it's associated connotations of wealth, status, health or style.
Customers can see the direct benefit of products and be wooed more quickly into a purchase decision as a result, rather than the traditional, slow seduction of high production value advertising campaigns that keep popping. up. everywhere. even the bus stop. to gently stoke the flames of an eventual sale in consumers. In this way brands can create longer lasting consumer connections that go right down to the core values of the business, rather than being 'as desirable as their last endorsement.'
Moving away from the celebrity endorsement model is a risky move but one I believe may see a rise in the coming years: After all, in the era of selfies and curated lifestyles, doesn't it make sense to appeal to the natural narcissism of customers and make them the main event?
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As always, thanks for reading and make sure you leave any comments you have below!
, by Louisa Rogers