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We know that advertising has always been useful for brands to increase the sales of their product. The campaigns are distributed by the Media, created by the Advertisers and designed by the Marketers, the men and women who work in the brands, with data in hand and instincts developed over the years, to build the strategies that lead to improving the performance of their products on the shelves.
A young profession, that of Marketing, which is just over sixty years old and which has been changing its skin in recent times. Marketers today find themselves in a context that has truly transformed. First responsible for technological and digital transformation. Audiences have become fragmented. Not only because they are on multiple communication channels but also because they are on different channels at the same time. At the beginning of digital the simplification was that “…on digital were the digitally literate and the young people, who were no longer on TV…”, today this is not exactly the case.
There are different targets on different channels at the same time. The same person can be on TV and on TIk Tok, on the same day but at different times, so much so that social media increasingly aggregates different audiences attracted by the content, not by the medium.
The complexity, therefore, is at least double. Multiple channels and targets that are continuously transferred in a liquid way, trying – depending on the platform of use – to satisfy different needs. But it’s not enough.
Marketers are dealing with the elusive big data. An enormous mass of complex and refined information that can be collected thanks to technology but difficult to use, sometimes not efficient in terms of timing.
To these two aspects of innovation, we must add the issue of the fragmentation of economic resources. If before the advent of digital, the money allocated to advertising served to feed a few distribution silos, today it is inexorably fragmented to feed all the platforms, risking not making the strategy and the message work, so well identified and implemented, in a effective (and measurable). The work of marketers, therefore, has really become more complex and complicated. Building the right strategy, identifying the right message(s) has turned into objectively more difficult work.
If, however, the issue was only internal to the companies, in terms of rules of the game, skills, tasks and organisation, the space to interpret the change would perhaps be sufficient to ride this transformed context. Instead, digital has also changed the lives of consumers.
Consumers have become more aware, more interactive, more literate, taking them from an absolutely passive role to a leading role in communication activities. The consumer not only understands, but wants to learn more, even asks to try the product, review it, share his point of view. He understands the nature of the message, judges it, appreciates it and expects to participate.
This transformation is defined by some research as the fiction economy. Digital has generated a true fusion between real and virtual, leading the consumer to be significantly influenced by the most symbolic part of reality – that is, the advertising message itself.
His being continually in the virtual and digital, always on the move, in moments of entertainment and even in family ones, has led him to give more value to the symbolic and value aspects that appear in the virtual and find concreteness in the real.
What the Fiction Economy theorizes is that the purchase decision no longer passes solely from the need and functionality of the product you want to sell but from the solicitation of desire which inevitably impacts a more substantial sphere of the listener.
Until recently, that purchase decision was triggered by utility needs, however ephemeral, and advertising had the task of enhancing the need to increase the attractiveness of the product.
Today, however, it is no longer enough. And it’s not about habituation or discernment, on the contrary.
Advertising, paradoxically, has become part of everyone’s daily life and the demand for the quality of the message has become a real request from audiences.
The focus is to support this meeting between real and virtual by working to bring out the values and symbols that each Brand has within it. After all, marketing stratifies, every day, every year, the equity of its brand. He refines it, makes it consistent, makes it contemporary, always adding an extra piece, modifying the positioning and consolidating its story which – over time – becomes heritage. But while until now this was primarily the access point for identifying a slogan useful for activating the need, today it becomes the message itself necessary to reach the desire.
Because, in those values, the consumer sees himself and finds himself and therefore decides to choose you.
Because it allows them to participate in your values, be they sustainability or inclusion, simply by purchasing your product. Because it makes him feel like a protagonist.
Attention to the differences that a product can offer has become less and less present. Attention to price is dictated by necessity but – once again – the distances between one brand and another are increasingly negligible.
What remains is the attention to values and how the Brand interprets the contemporary and how it manages to do so in an authentic way
For this reason, the feeling is that Brands, more and more, must bring their investments (of time and money) to enhance their equity, sustainability or diversity projects to transform them into consumer communication projects, real and own communication campaigns.
In this way they will be able to speak to a fragmented and widespread audience, to have consistency to control all channels and to have longevity that lasts over time, because a value is no longer the face behind an impulsive need dictated by a season of consumption but the engine of a desire to participate in a world that digital obsessively narrates every day, involving everyone!
Matteo Scortegagna is co-founder of Next14, an integrated marketing and communications agency