Brands need to ensure their marketing strategy is more culturally relevant in order to see an increase in consumer engagement.

  • In order to achieve cultural relevance, brands should aspire to add value to their audience, not continually interrupt. 
  • Adopting cultural relevance means a brand is able to understand and respond to an audience in a way that they can relate to, whilst still remaining true to the brand experience.
  • In a rapidly evolving market, brands must remain relevant so they can create a two-way conversation with their consumers.

Looking back… 

In the past, advertising a product or service was fairly straightforward, brands simply had to present them in a compelling way and run the ad in a newspaper.

However, with the addition of cinema and TV, the use of video opened brands up with the opportunity of emotive advertising and thanks to the limited media outlets, target audiences had little chance of escaping brand messages. 

When the internet came into play, the successful formula marketers had created saw faults, and their job became more difficult. The introduction of the internet meant that for the first time, consumers could become part of the conversation while consuming information. This shift was accelerated further with smartphones and the addition of social media as consumers could reach and follow more people.

Nowadays, it is far too easy for consumers to ignore messages they do not want to invest time in, and people have the power to tailor their media experience to their interests and needs, which will shut out everything else.

Therefore, advertising has had to evolve in line with this, and brands are taking a more active approach to finding their purpose and place in the cultures surrounding them and their consumers. The brands that consumers choose to associate with now forms part of their identity and so they must learn how best to harness this cultural relevance in order to resonate with their audience.

This approach to developing and tailoring the brand experience is more effective as a brand is more likely to form part of the culture that they are trying to engage with by showing an understanding of that culture, which creates a more genuine connection with its audience.

What is ‘culture’?

The meaning of culture has changed over time, with 83% of consumers expressing that ‘culture’ now goes beyond the traditional definition of family, food, and language. They now believe it includes pop culture: music, social trends, and arts, as well as current affairs: events, politics, and sports. 

According to a survey of 865 consumers carried out by AdWeek, they found that 25% of product purchase decisions are driven by cultural relevance and that this is almost as important as having a strong brand image.

According to the global head of agency development at Twitter, Stephanie Prager,

“Culture is broad-based, and how you identify what those cultural moments are, that are relevant and resident to your brand is where we start to be able to be more targeted in how brands can actually inject and interject themselves in those moments.”

What should brands be doing?

To ensure future growth, brands need to add value to their consumers, they need to be improving their lives in a relevant way. 

Ram Krishnan, PepsiCo’s chief customer officer comments:

“Around the globe, we see consumers are becoming omni-cultural, and geographical boundaries don’t necessarily divide them. They aren’t defined by where they were born or where they live. Rather, their passions unite them with like-minded people around the world.”

Not only are consumers’ passions driving their purchasing decisions, but their beliefs and values are also demonstrated by the brands they choose to buy. Consumers are becoming more engaged, moving away from their passive natures, and now actively looking to have a two-way conversation with brands, sometimes even trying to take control of that conversation.

A brand needs to connect with recent events that also reflect their values so they can demonstrate an engagement with the culture of their audience. This is key to gaining consumers’ trust as they want brands that represent their personal values. So, not only does a brand need to appreciate what’s happening in their audience’s culture, but they also need to identify the parts of that community which make sense to associate with.

Why is this important?

A brand must form part of a culture because their consumers are part of that culture. Consumers are finally beginning to trust brands and as a result, brands are almost serving as cultural barometers. If brands are not able to accurately represent their consumer’s values, consumers will lose trust in the brand. 

The place a brand has in culture is an aspect of a business that cannot be copied, unlike their products or processes, and this is what will provide a brand with a unique edge that their audience will resonate with. 

Immersing a brand within its audience’s culture is not a quick or easy fix. It requires time and effort for a brand to understand what motivates and upsets their audience, but through understanding this, brands will be able to build real connections with their audience, meaning their brand experience will prosper.

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