A recent report in The Guardian detailing the rise of curvier and more diverse models in traditional advertising references soon-to-be published research by Cambridge PhD student Ben Barry.
‘The vast majority of women significantly increase purchase intentions when they see a model that reflects their age, size and race,’ Barry asserts, adding that this is hardly a groundbreaking discovery. ‘If you speak to consumers on the street about my research, nobody is surprised – consumers are light years ahead of the fashion industry in that they want to see diversity.’
Barry’s research reflects the tangible consequences of Web 2.0: if consumers don’t see themselves reflected in the media, they’ll create their own version in which they do. Chicago Theater Company have been subscribing to this view for years, re-working Shakespeare’s greatest plays into contemporary ‘ad-rap-tations’ and using current street vernacular to bring the content to a modern audience. Their latest offering, Funk It Up About Nothing, is currently enjoying a 10-day season at Carriageworks in Sydney.
Appropriately, it was the Bard himself who advised us to ‘hold as t’were the mirror up to nature’. Yet in terms of content, traditional marketing and advertising have become confused somewhere along the line.
By employing the kind of two-way mirrors used in crime drama shows, they have boxed themselves in with their campaigns to the point where all that is reflected is their own image, while consumers, on the other side of the glass, see right through their tactics and remain unmoved.
This is why people rely increasingly on blogs, YouTube and social networking as content sources. We see ourselves reflected in this content because it comes to us through a mechanism that we use confidently ourselves, and because (quality) branded content on such networks keeps the integrity of the medium intact.
Walking the line between trying to become all things to all people and detaching as a brand is a tricky one – and one that all too often misses the mark. Knowing your audience is important, but employing that knowledge in terms of your content is something that isn’t happening often enough.
With limitless resources available in terms of social media, there is no excuse for brands to be employing guesswork when it comes to who and where their target markets are.
Mirroring the attributes of these markets in relatable, up-to-date and consistent content is the only way to stay in the game.
Because the game won’t wait for you to catch up.
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Image sourced from: Business of Fashion