These are trying times, and everyone’s looking for ways to feel more positive. We’re prioritizing time with the people we love, and products we feel good about using. Brands should be thinking about their role in creating positive experiences. I think companies will shift more ad dollars to the contexts and environments that make people happy. Context is king—and brands should care about the emotional quality of where their brand shows up.
Authenticity helps you connect with people on a whole new level. It pushes you past standard brand building, and into what I like to call “bond building.”
In 2019, I think we’ll see more companies act on the values that matter to them. That doesn’t mean wading into every hot topic that makes the news. It means defining what your brand cares about, and living those values. That helps you build stronger customer relationships. In fact, a recent AMA study found that nearly two-thirds of consumers are “belief-driven buyers,” and take a brand’s values into account as they shop.1
REI excels at this. They’re all about helping people get outside, and they routinely invest in programs to make it happen. On Black Friday, when every other retailer is trying to get people in their stores, REI shuts their doors and tells people to go outside instead. They’re not just saying they care about people’s quality of life—they’re showing it.
Lacoste is known for their iconic crocodile logo. But earlier this year, they swapped the croc for endangered species, releasing limited edition shirts that featured endangered animals. The collection got people talking about animal conservation, and sold out in 24 hours.
It’s a great example of taking something you care about as a brand, and using it to inspire your customers. Research from the Harvard Business Review showed that making customers feel inspired by your brand is even more important than satisfying them. It’s a lot harder to get that emotional connection than it is to check the boxes on functional satisfaction. But when you do, inspired customers actually spend two times more than customers who say they’re merely “satisfied.”2
People expect more from businesses these days: More purpose, more passion and a more powerful use of their impact. As you head into 2019, think about the ways that your brand can listen, speak up and build stronger bonds. I look forward to seeing what you do this year.
I’m starting off my 2019 at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. We’ll spend the week talking about the latest developments in marketing, tech and beyond. Follow Pinterest Business on Twitter to hear our take on the show.
–Jon Kaplan, currently saving ideas to Cars
1American Marketing Association, “Consumers Want Brands to Take a Stand on Social Issues,” Oct 2018
2Harvard Business Review, “The new science of customer emotions,” Nov 2015