I’ve reflected on the evolution of the communications business in recent years while working in the United States. Watching ‘Mad Men’ gave me an “illustrated” context of the industry back in the ‘50s. During that time, companies would find ways to “play the game” by avoiding the need to address new consumer demands. If ignoring consumer needs was not possible (or successful) then, it is certainly even more impossible today. The change and evolution that corporations experienced occurred for different reasons:
- Companies created demands, which resulted in new consumer behaviors;
- Evolution was not optional as new legislation would rule cigarettes companies could no longer sponsor sports or liquors brands could no longer advertise during prime time TV for kids;
- Consumers also demanded change and companies interested in continued growth were required to address concerns.
As I describe in my previous post, consumers will engage in a much deeper relationship with their favorite brands than most marketers realize. Today’s consumers are responsible for what the industry is developing and putting on their plates. Last year the Edelman Food & Beverage team collaborated with Mintel to identify food and beverage trends that define the industry, which underscore an industry in the midst of unprecedented change.
A few years ago, there was urgency to provide consumers with as much convenience as possible. Even though consumers still value convenience today, an increasing number of them, led by Millennials, are going back to basics and experimenting with different ingredients. They value a homemade feeling like a craft beer, brewed coffee or an artisan ice cream. Small business is also preferred in this scenario and big corporations are focused on earning back these consumers. Seeking to keep their relevance among consumers in general, companies are beginning to partner with startups to understand what is next as it relates to food innovation, and with chefs to leverage their credibility to bolster products and initiatives. This is all in an effort to earn back (or keep) consumer trust.
It is not an easy task, but agencies are responsible for understanding consumer behavior – whether it is the food they put on their plates or the cellphones they carry in their pockets – to help inform strategic brand initiatives and build brand reputation worldwide.
As a Global Fellow, I’ve had the advantage of seeing this from different perspectives and can apply the insights learned as I continue to evolve in my career.