Insight & Strategic Planning Director
Don’t be afraid of digital – there’s little point; it’s already here. And whether we call it rebellion or revolution matters little, as it’s already taken place. The reality of digital now is that it pushes us to be ever more creative. But do not be fooled. Creativity is fascinating, but in the digital age it can be extremely violent.
In our profession, one of the first digital revolutions was the arrival of Flash banners – an early symbol of digital creativity. Yet they disappeared overnight because they were no longer useful. And let’s not forget all the platforms that came and went. Remember Chatroulette and Hop? Vero disappeared even faster.
Time seems to be accelerating and ultimately it is us, the consumers, who choose whether something works or does not. The other day in a cafe, I overheard students next to me asking each other "Right or left?". But what were they talking about? Of course: Tinder. Our daily life is all about whether we “add each other on Facebook" or "I follow you on Instagram", and the vexations that go with these new behaviors. If I follow you but you don’t follow me, that’s not good.
All this forces us to be reactive and proactive, trying to understand the market. Whether we like digital or not, we have a sense of schizophrenia, because we expect recognition through digital media, or even have an audience. To understand the market means turning this schizophrenia into a positive asset, but how?
At the heart of this, before we even talk about content, is culture. Step one is to forget our usual socio-demo classifications: 25-34 years, millennials and generations X, Y, and Z. There are enough tools now to allow us a much finer classification, and to then match our creativity with the desires of consumers. That creativity must be both beautiful and useful. Creativity is also the ability to personally address a consumer and generate an emotion.
Timing has also changed; brands, products, nature and the media all now seem to operate at their own pace. We find that we like the same music as our children, and two weeks later, they dismiss it as cheesy and “has been”.
For young people, their creative tempo is determined by Snapchat, Deezer and Spotify, while some of us are old enough to remember the rhythms set by Melody Maker or even the New Musical Express. We must therefore understand each other’s tempos, knowing to ask ourselves at all times what tempo we should be running at.
One of our studies shows us that consumers are extremely benevolent with brands online. When they communicate, it is essentially to give positive opinions. Not only are digital media a means of communicating, they’re also a way for brands and consumers to create, to co-create, and to delegate creation. Adidas understood this well when they created Deerupt. This analyzed the cultures prevalent on Instagram, the way the young people took photos of their shoes, and created shoe designs that were more "Instagrammable" and "shareable”. This shows a real understanding of the habits and preferences of the consumer.
The fact that consumers can now use digital media to help brands could be seen as us having arrive at utopia. But we must not imagine this means we no longer need our own R&D or innovation, because we imagine consumers can do all this for us. It remains up to us to influence brands, and encourage them to stop talking about delivering the right message at the right time, and rather to focus on delivering emotion to consumers. The real digital revolution will be less about platforms and more about emotions.