On the high seas, experienced (and maybe above all, long-term) captains always have one eye on the skies above the ocean. There is a matching idiom, in fact, to “keep a weather eye” on a situation, which means keeping close tabs on a situation. When such a long-standing captain (peg-leg or no) sees the skies darkening, the canvas snapping in the wind and the waves growing, the order to “batten down the hatches” is quickly issued to secure the ship for the oncoming severe weather.
It is a bit ironic that I am using this analogy on an unusual day, weather-wise, for February. It is usually the hottest month of the year without exception, but today is windy, and cold, and very un-February. Ironic only in how apt it is to what is happening in the world of marketing. We are not in calm waters anymore and the storm is intensifying as we speak.
We are not criticising any company for the business decisions they make, but we are wondering what they were thinking when they were making these rather interesting (and some would argue obnoxious) decisions. Many people were outraged at the arbitrary decisions, and we predict that the number of people outraged by these and similar decisions will grow.
Simply put, people have changed. If 2020 was anything other than the year of the Great Modern Pandemic, it was the year in which people had a lot of time on their hands to think, and evaluate their personal beliefs and morals, as well as the information on which they were basing their personal decisions and worldly choices. The consensus has become clear: The people are not please. And since the people are the market with whom a business needs to engage to sell their products and services, this is a big problem.
The internet has changed the modern consumer’s expectations and the new marketing funnel is no longer a linear affair. However, the driving force behind all these changes, the vector that directs as well as informs the changes, is a change in how the market audience sees and interacts with the world. This does not only refer to the digital interface through which companies communicate, either. The market audience has become more aware of the world, their place in it, and are growing in their knowledge of their power over it. (Gamestop, anyone?)
When the storm has passed, the marketing audience will no longer be a “marketing audience” that can be defined by general assumptions and stereotypes of behaviour, but a group of individuals with new demands for old values:
- Relevance, and
Over the course of the next three articles, we will take a deep dive into each of the three as they apply to marketing communications and strategy. It is time for some straight talk.