• Transform magazine
  • March 29, 2020

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Future of brands is nostalgic and local, report shows

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New York-based media agency Um has identified four key trends shaping contemporary consumer behaviour, and it has offered guidelines on maintaining brand relevance in the 'remix culture.’ Authenticity and identity will play a significant role in the near future, with most online consumers looking for original takes and innovative approaches to brand identity.

Brands can play a significant role in social good, by becoming representatives of a global culture. To keep being relevant in the digital age, organisations need to engage with consumers and their necessities at all levels, by building a strong identity their audience can resonate with.

The remix culture tends to adopt old lifestyles and adapt them to the current cultural mindset. Brands are often required to keep up with all trends. Consumers will naturally be attracted to those organisations with which they identify the most; to understand online consumer behaviours is fundamental to keep being relevant in the digital age, while still striving for innovation, originality and identity. Brands need strong, confident identities, to become advocates for end consumers as well.

This is what has surfaced from Um’s research. By tracking more than 56,000 active internet users across 81countries, the media agency has unveiled that six out of 10 online consumers (61%) believe brands should fight battles for the social good, by standing up for something they can relate to or they believe in as well. Whenever companies don’t live up to those expectations, consumers hold them accountable, often by voicing their concerns on social media.

Last fall, Nike’s partnership with former quarterback Colin Kaepernick set an example. Although the company’s choice to support Kaepernick fuelled a boycott movement into some consumers, Nike has benefitted from the brand exposure and the resulting controversy. The audience has rewarded its move both on social media and in stores, leading to increased sales in the long term.

In the remix culture, brands are expected to be active, original, authentic and creative. They are also expected to understand the consumers’ needs, which veer increasingly towards nostalgia; two thirds of the surveyed consumers (68%) enjoy content from other decades, and most of them tend to be attracted to brands which embrace nostalgic feelings as part of their identity. At the same time, authenticity is key; brands that feel ‘local’ and manage to convey a strong message appeal to the global consumers’ sense of individuality, with more than half of them (57%) favouring local brands and products to those from other countries.

The future of brands is increasingly local, retrograde and deeply rooted into consumer culture. Reports from media agencies such as Um’s are fundamental to observe and understand current trends, and they can help organisations stay culturally relevant, in an age in which trust is growingly difficult to build and maintain.

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