Two recent developments from Sustainable Brands have me jumping for joy. For those who don’t know, Sustainable Brands is a global community of business and brand leaders with a goal to ’help brands succeed while accelerating the shift to a sustainable economy.’ I was delighted to hear they are bringing their annual conference to Vancouver this year, in early June. It’s refreshing to see a typically US-centric organization look beyond its borders for a place to gather, like TED did a few years ago. And it reflects well on Vancouver’s image in the global business community to have an event with this type of focus choose our fair city.
This year’s conference theme, ‘Redesigning the Good Life,’ is based on a 3-year global initiative that Sustainable Brands launched in 2017. The initiative began because of a hypothesis that our societal aspirations are shifting around the world, as we realize the harm that over-consumption is having on us, our communities and the planet. The organization decided to begin by conducting a study in the US, to capture consumer perceptions about what constitutes ‘the good life’ and to see if they reflect emerging global insights.
The findings from this study also had me jumping for joy. The data showed that there is indeed a long-term shift in consumer aspirations—the definition of living ‘the good life’ has changed to something more positive and sustainable. The focus is moving away from status, money and personal achievement toward balance, simplicity and connections. It’s not surprising to see that consumers continue to have financial concerns but there is a growing recognition that money alone won’t buy happiness. The ability to buy luxury items, which is traditionally a sign of status, is now seen by only 1/4 of the US population as an accurate indicator of living ‘the good life.’
The findings from the study identified four priorities that people now specify for living ‘the good life:’
Thankfully, these priorities are not limited to one or two demographics. They reach across generations, gender, region, income, politics and faiths. It’s heartening to see that these ideals matter to people in all walks of life and provide a common ground that the majority agree with.
So, what does this study mean for brands? The findings show that people want companies to help them live this new version of ‘the good life.’ In fact, they expect it. And, for those brands that do, 80% of consumers will reward them with their loyalty. Although 1/2 of consumers sense brands would like to help them with their goals, 2/3 struggle to identify brands that are succeeding in doing so. This disconnect can be seen across categories--from personal care to appliances/home to tech, not one category performed well against all four priorities. This shows that there is significant opportunity for companies that can deliver on helping consumers meet these unfulfilled needs.
It’s important to note, however, that success won’t automatically come just by having products and services that help consumers live ‘the good life.’ As marketers, we know all too well that consumer demand is complicated. Although 2/3 of US consumers believe in voting for change with their dollars, less than 1/3 said they purchase from companies who are helping them live ‘the good life.’ So, although some brands may be meeting consumer needs, they aren’t differentiating or communicating their benefits well enough. As always, those brands that are consumer-centric in their offerings and communications will benefit most from this opportunity.
As professionals and consumers, we can all do our part to redefine ‘the good life’ and contribute to bringing this new global vision to life, for everyone’s benefit. If you’d like to read the report in detail, you can find it here. And, if you’re interested in attending or getting involved with SB’18 Vancouver, you'll find the details here.
Email marketing was one of the earliest forms of online advertising. I remember working on the Brita business at DDB in San Francisco over 15 years ago. We developed their first CRM program, which included an opt-in email newsletter. Compared to now, the emails were pretty basic but even then we knew enough to tailor the content according to the reason they purchased Brita – for taste or for health reasons. Our goal was to be relevant and provide value based on their interests.
Technology has evolved significantly since then and yet some days it seems like it hasn’t, based on the emails I receive from some advertisers. They certainly look a lot better now but it’s surprising how many don’t allow for basic customization. As a result, they are not sending me information I want. A few simple options could turn this around, making the content I receive something I value. I’ll share a recent example from a national retailer in the sports apparel category. They could have allowed me to choose womenswear only or select the sports I’m interested in. Instead, I received email after email with the stuff I wanted to hear about buried in all the stuff they wanted to tell me about. So what happened? I unsubscribed. End of useless interruption for me. End of opportunity for them.
Unlike other online advertising, email is a format that consumers actually like. Findings from a recent global study by Rakuten Marketing revealed that consumers see emails as the second most valued online ad format (only coupon links are more valued). This makes sense when you consider that 80% of U.S. consumers stated that ads are of value when they align with their needs. In addition, 80% said advertising is acceptable when content is useful and doesn’t interrupt their online experience. Done well, email is a great advertising opportunity.
So, how can you make the most of email marketing? Customization is key. This is easy and should be the norm, given how far technology has advanced since my days on Brita. And yet, of the 2,500 people surveyed online, 80% said that online advertising has not improved over time, on any device or platform. This opinion is even stronger among women, who were 13% more likely than men to say it’s worse. The biggest issue U.S. consumers expressed with online advertising is frequency, with 61% saying they are too frequent. At minimum, you should provide consumers with frequency options. Then, give them choices to customize the content you provide. When they get to choose, you are much more likely to gain and retain a coveted place in their InBox.
Whether you decide to use email marketing or other online advertising formats, always be relevant and respectful. As the saying goes, “we have the technology.” Make sure you use it to create a better online marketing experience so you win over customers and grow your business.
I have a curious mind and many interests. I like to spend time musing about things marketing-related, as well as how technology impacts our world.