In the “Deep Dive” format, experts from the Mediaplus Group immerse themselves in the world of marketing trends and provide in-depth insights into current challenges: how can trends be categorised socially and economically, and how can problems be addressed with an interdisciplinary approach? Magnus Gebauer, Group Head Trendhub at Mediaplus, sheds light on this with his article on the evolution of hybrid consumers.

Jane and John Smith are facing an identity crisis. While they used to fit perfectly into demographic characteristics, average buying behaviour and value categories, contradictions are increasingly appearing in their lives. Just recently, though, Jane has been attributed a split – almost schizophrenic – consumer existence with unstable consumer patterns. As she is concerned about sustainability and shopping locally, she buys her food from the local organic shop. However, avocados and other exotic superfoods also make their way into her basket on a regular basis. John also feels that things are no longer as simple as they used to be. While reading an article on the consequences of the Facebook privacy scandal, he found himself accepting the website’s cookies information without hesitation.

What the Smiths perceive as an identity crisis has for some time been described by marketers as the erratic and contradictory behaviour of hybrid consumers. A look at current trends reveals that there are more and more of these contradictory developments. We are now at the centre of the so-called battle of contradictions. Sometimes the battle appears in just one person, or other times it is apparent in an entire target group, which only seems to work uniformly.

From a marketing point of view, the challenges in consciously addressing the target group are growing. At the same time, opportunities also arise when brands get involved in current trend themes. Contradictions are not only evident in terms of consumption, but also in social life and media use.

For this reason, we are taking a look at three current contradictions from society, consumption and media use and pitting them against each other based on their significance for marketing and media. Which trend is the most relevant? What are the challenges? How can marketers take advantage of the trend?

JOMO vs. FOMO

FOMO (or the fear of missing out) is known from the world of social media. As an antidote, JOMO (or the joy of missing out) is the conscious decision to enjoy missing out on something – both online and offline. From a marketing point of view, FOMO is more relevant. Seven out of ten millennials experience this feeling on a regular basis. The trigger possibilities of the “FOMO Sapiens” simply offer far more scope from a marketing point of view – just think about the effect of temporary stories, the effect of artificial scarcity on booking portals or strict time limits. And in practice? Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Singles Day are the best examples of the impressive effect of FOMO logic. Played at the right moment, however, JOMO also offers a creative playground, especially with regard to contextual messages in the up-and-coming digital wellness cosmos – Dominos UK provides proof of this with its  “The Official Food of JOMO” advert. In a humorous way, they position their pizzas as an alternative to the FOMO lifestyle.

Ethical Consumption vs. Convenience

Climate change and movements such as Fridays for Future are bringing ethical-sustainable consumption into the consciousness of the masses. Well-known green issues such as organic and local are gaining in importance, while new issues such as flight shame and data shame are emerging. At the same time, there are few consumers who want to do without convenience products – but these are usually not particularly environmentally friendly. Brands cannot ignore any of the issues, but sustainability is a must and convenience is an additional option. Sustainability communication requires a clever balancing act between credible brand positioning – especially for non-green-born brands – and avoiding the greenwashing trap into which Deutsche Bahn recently stepped with its green ICE paint. Brands have a number of options available to them to be able to achieve convenience: Nestlé offers an Alexa Skill for young parents that makes everyday life easier. Rewe, Edeka and other supermarkets advertise with the fact that customers can withdraw cash free of charge as a kind of value-added service in stores, and Lufthansa implements data-based dialogue marketing in the form of personalised newsletters.

Glossy vs. Real

On social media in particular, the image people – and also businesses – present is especially important. On the one hand, there is the desire to be presented as perfectly as possible, while on the other hand the appearance should also be authentic and real. After all, Instagram’s #nomakeup hashtag features 18.3 million posts. The bottom line in this battle of contradictions is that glossy – the faked, perfect self-portrayal – is still a contender, because artificial and staged images still dominate the media. But it is precisely in the flood of “instagrammable” posts that carefully arranged bowls and walls no longer really stand out – Gen Z has grasped this fact and staged itself in a refreshingly authentic way.
From a brand perspective, real and unembellished staging can also have a stronger effect on attention. The successful Real Beauty campaign by Dove has been using the “No Digital Distortion” mark in its visual communication worldwide since the beginning of the year. To create a modern brand presence on Instagram, it is worth being both glossy and real: you can present yourself and your products filtered and perfectly staged, but you should not forget your personal touch. The American make-up manufacturer Glossier has mastered this almost to perfection.

Contradictions don’t make the world worse, only a little more complicated. This can be transferred to direct customer contact. In addition, not all solutions can be found in media communication – products, sales and customer service are also decisive building blocks and should be included in overall strategic considerations. It is important to be open and bold in the face of these contradictions and to see them more as an opportunity for versatile, authentic communication.

Holistic agencies not only observe current trends, they also analyse and evaluate them based on their relevance for their customers. On this basis, they will be able to react quickly to consumer trends and create innovations from them.

This page is available in Deutsch (German)

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