Why brands need to connect with consumers more than ever

The 2022 consumer is more self-aware than ever, brands need to change tactics now

Marketing isn’t about solely promoting your product anymore. It’s about showing up authentically in the right place in a way that connects with how consumers feel about the world around them. From mental health and physical well-being, to sustainability and how they shop online, brands will need to change course and match these behaviors if they want to be successful in 2022.

“Brands need to connect more with the feeling that people have. It’s not just the product and what it can do for you, but it’s a feeling that is spreading through work, life, and how consumers are buying things,” says Angeley Mullins, chief marketing officer and chief growth officer, Latana.

Mullins discusses the changing consumer headspace alongside Louise Troen, vice-president, international marketing, Headspace, and Visha Kudhail, director of business marketing, Pinterest in a webinar entitled ‘Consumer self-awareness: how brands need to change tactics in 2022’.

Register here to watch the full webinar.

Finding the connective tissue

Setting the scene for the conversation, Mullins reveals some exclusive research from Latana on the 2022 consumer. The survey, which ran in the US and UK, found that mental health will be a key focus for consumers, along with sustainability, online shopping, data protection, and more. Brands who pivot their marketing in these areas can better target and relate to their audiences emotionally.

“You need to nail what that emotional connectivity is, the connective tissue between what people care about and what you stand for as a product, and the emotional understanding of how people are going to be brought into that so that they become long lasting advocates,” says Troen. “I really believe that the expectation for consumers is to understand what a brand does, why it’s relevant to them and how it can add value to their lives. This will only increase as we go into 2022.”

To do that, brands need to be thinking about the expectations of consumers in the content they serve and the service or product they offer. That will require an education piece from brands on how and why it is going to add value to consumers’ lives.

By understanding the consumer mindset and how they are emotionally connected to the message, brands can better gauge the right communication with the right audiences in the right channel at the right point, rather than “peanut butter spreading all of your communications across every marketing channel and hoping for engagement to fall off the back of that” says Troen.

That will not only ensure that your brand and product plays into the expectation of consumers but also that it shows up with authenticity in the right channels. Kudhail adds: “It’s a three-way ecosystem versus just thinking about it in that silo space of telling the story and hoping for the best. We’ve got to work towards creating a safe space and haven.”

Changing the conversation

The beauty of social media platforms is that they are democratizing access to a plethora of conversations that brands otherwise wouldn’t have access to. People are engaging with and sharing visceral moments that expose their vulnerability. This has led to more and more brands focusing their advertising on individual people sharing their stories – and it’s resonating with consumers.

The speakers discuss how brands like Headspace, Maltesers, Maybelline, Patagonia and Pinterest are changing the trend from product marketing to creating more meaningful emotional connections with consumers by becoming more relatable and purposeful.

“It comes down to making sure that you resonate with the brand or product that you want to use. But the data is telling us something, and we need to listen to that. One of the things we think about not just from a brand perspective, but a platform perspective is taking action,” says Kudhail.

They also touch on the intersection between performance and purpose, to ensure that brands are showing up in society with impact and bringing environments to consumers to build better blocks around their everyday lives – and the knock-on effect that has on growth.

“You don’t have to sacrifice your brand values for gaining ROI,” says Kudhail. “Don’t ignore what consumers are trying to tell us right now, listen to the research and the data. You have to make some active choices; that enforces a better, more positive and inspiring life. We all have to play an active role to be able to deliver on that so that your inwards match your outwards.”

Connecting with hearts and minds

So, how can data help brands ensure they are making better marketing decisions that connect emotionally with the hearts and minds of their target audiences?

Different groups have different needs – but there is a consistent thread: they all care about similar spaces. You need to be really clear, targeted and tailored with your audience group: who that person is, where he, she, or they are showing up, how much money they want to spend, other brands they are engaging with, what they are worried about, what makes them happy.

“Get so granular and specific around who that individual is – that’s the ultimate key to growth and success,” says Troen. “It will make your life a lot clearer when it comes to creativity, content, what your communication is, and who your communication partner should be, what your life cycle looks like, where your user acquisition targeting should be focused. How you target them and how that communication is tailored and adapted is really important to being successful within that channel.”

Whether you’re focusing on mental health, sustainability, online delivery, gender equality, body diversity, climate change, or something else, if brands are showing up in these conversations, they must be as authentic as possible and do so in a way that makes sense to the product or service.

“It’s not just about your product, it’s about connecting with consumers and how they think and feel about your brand and the message that you want to put into the world,” concludes Mullins.

Register here to watch the full webinar, ‘Consumer self-awareness: how brands need to change tactics in 2022’ with Latana, Headspace and Pinterest.