For a long time, marketing has been based on the idealisation of reality. The perfect body, the perfect two-point-four children and the perfect house with a white picket fence are just a few of the images that formed the aspirational foundations on which many a marketing campaign was based. But could the tides be a-turning? Could those images of aspirational perfection actually be alienating instead of attracting consumers? In the battle of positivity versus perfection, is your content changing with the times?
I came across a thought-provoking article on Campaign Live that states this is the case and brands should embrace the new positivity to create stronger connections with their audience.
The most obvious sign of the change in atmosphere is the rise of the body positive movement, arguably born from a social-media revolution which provides a platform to express uniqueness and rebel against that daily dose of pressure to live that ‘perfect’ life.
Brands such as Missguided are taking long overdue steps to showcase models as ‘real’ people without their so-called ‘imperfections’ airbrushed out. The clothing brand recently stepped up their game of inclusivity with a campaign featuring beautiful models with a variety of skin conditions, such as scarring, psoriasis and birthmarks.
This growing awareness has amplified the desire for consumers to feel represented – just look at the increasing popularity of social influencers who are perceived as more relatable than the polished celebrity. Brands that present themselves in a relatable, approachable manner come across as more human which, in this day and age, can lead to more effective engagement with consumers.
Furthermore, brands that ensure their core values are aligned with positivity and making their audience feel good are likely to evoke emotional responses that set them apart from the crowd. With 82% of consumers always choosing to buy from a brand they have a highly emotional connection with, according to a survey by Capgemini’s Digital Transformation Institute, it’s clear that emotions are the main driver of loyalty in a competitive marketplace.
…but authenticity is everything
I believe this move towards positive, inclusive relatability over aspirational ‘perfection’ is a breath of fresh air. However, I can’t stress enough that for a brand to truly make this movement work for them, they need to be fully invested.
As the Campaign Live article puts it: “Brands clumsily attempting to reverse-engineer authenticity or viewing inclusivity as a ‘fad’ will quickly run out of steam.” By making “authenticity their marketing strategy, rather than a business one”, it’s all too easy to come across as manufactured and self-serving, thus shooting themselves in the foot.
Instead, brands need to be bold, examining and aligning their core values with positivity while using content and communications to reflect this in a candid, authentic manner.
While a certain amount of aspiration will always play a part in marketing, nowadays the story has to be believable – consumers will settle for nothing less.
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