As the Western world moves towards conscious consumerism and the desire to accumulate more ‘stuff’ lessens, brands are tasked with new challenges including maintaining market demand. This notion is referred to as ‘peak stuff,’ meaning, a specific product has reached top interest and cannot grow further. Hence, brands are now being pushed to think beyond their bottom line and celebrate value in alternative ways. As capitalism has a ‘mid-life crisis’ and a new consumer profile emerges, brands must reconsider their approach. Here at Strategy, we’ve compiled our top 4 ways to prepare for the inevitable peak decade.
1. Embrace the Change
By first understanding and then embracing the peaks in key drivers of the global economy, your brand is much more likely to survive the ramifications these trends have on organisations. The acknowledgement of change needs to be made by your C-suite and communicated to employees across the business. This will enable the brand to formulate strategy and conduct business in a manner that reflects this change. Fortunately, many CEOs are acknowledging the change with Salesforce’s Marc Benioff stating, “it’s time for a new capitalism – a more fair, equal and sustainable capitalism that actually works for everyone, and where businesses don’t just take from society, but truly give back and have a positive impact”. Money transfer app, Beem It, focuses on reducing frictions surrounding sending and receiving money. The joint venture between NAB, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank steers away from industry competition and promotes collaboration for good.
2. Get to Know Your New Customer
The time of the eco-conscious consumer has arrived. As sustainability has become a more widely accepted and sought-after element of business practice and product, the approach to branding is shifting. J. Walter Thompson Intelligence’s market research revealed that 90% of consumers feel that brands have a responsibility to take care of the planet and its people. Additionally, 86% think companies that continue to deplete finite resources are stealing from the future. Whilst we may have reached the brink of peak capitalism, leveraging environmental and social good is a way to capture the new market. Wunderman Thompson’s 2020 Future 100 Report touched on the trend of anti-excess consumerism, highlighting the harmful nature of a review culture on the beauty world. Beauty bloggers who previously relied on reviewing the latest products, are beginning to denounce the endless cycle of products and the mass waste generation. In the fashion industry, the second-hand market is on track to reach sales of $43 billion by 2022 due to the rapid adoption by millennials and gen Z. The insatiable consumer is rapidly becoming a thing of the past and brands should be adjusting their strategies accordingly.
3. Reframe the Message
Brands need to rework their messaging in order to attract the new customer. This messaging opportunity lies in building transparency and promoting sustainability across all communications. With the barriers to information obliterated in the digital age, companies cannot afford to report or advertise inaccurately. Futerra’s recent survey found that 76% of consumers are hungry for more information on the social and environmental impact of their clothes. Sustainable clothing brand, Reformation, features the names and pictures of each factory worker on their website and hosts factory tours so customers can interact with the people who make their clothes. This focus on transparency in their branding allows them to build trust with the consumer and ultimately align with what consumers are looking for in their products.
4. Make it Human
By placing the customer at your brand’s core and delivering alternative sources of value, you will always have someone to serve. At Strategy, we believe the world has evolved past pushing products. Now consumers are making decisions based on the values, accessibility, sustainability and authenticity of a brand. Our goal is to create branding strategies that align your culture and lifestyle with those of the people you target. From sociable brands, like Zappos and Wendy’s, with a relatable and humorous social media presence; to emotional brands like Dove’s exploration of self-love; to Patagonia’s personable nature in which they admit their successes and flaws, the human-centred approach to branding piques customer interest and encourages continuous success.
It’s time for brands to change. It is essential that brands understand that future growth is tied to new thinking in the shift away from traditional capitalism. A brand strategy must highlight different sources of value. Businesses have a unique and powerful platform to promote positive change and embrace the mindful consumer. Consumers want you to help and educate, and to share your story in an honest and authentic way.