The marketing construct has historically been shaped by popular culture and behavioural trends. From the Polaroid camera to Instagram, consumer inclinations have been the bane of the traditional marketer’s existence for decades. Consumer progressions have influenced the evolution and adaptation of marketing fundamentals. And now fast forward to today’s instant gratification world, where only immediacy is relevant, forcing every product and service to be delivered in the most instantaneous way. This notion has given rise to the advent of shopping at the speed of thought. With a proliferation of apps available, (there’s an app for that) access to brands is now mobile, and at the mere touch of a screen. Going even further, brands like the consequential Amazon are aiming to fill the skies with drones to place anything a shopper can think of in their hands within minutes, no matter their locale. So forget about just content at your fingertips and make way for customized products on demand! The traditional way of buying and selling (aka marketing) as we know it has morphed right before our eyes.
The function of marketing has been circumvented by the invariability of consumers connecting and engaging directly with brands. The evidence is clear, traditional marketing is simply no longer influencing the consumer purchasing cycle. The idea of mass media has been debunked by a new era of individualized content made just as uniquely as the people who consume it. There’s no longer such a thing as a single media channel where droves of consumers consistently converge, allowing marketers to broadcast their promotional messages to audiences of gigantic proportion. That framework went out in the 80’s with analog radio and MTV. Media is now incredibly segmented and personalized and the traditional media platform is therefore terminal and perhaps inoperable. Some may even argue traditional media is completely dead and there’s a new paradigm. This begs the question, are the four Ps still relevant? Perhaps product and price but one has to dispute the appropriateness of promotion and place.
Current consumer behaviour has turned media on its ear. The proliferation of digital media outlets whenever, wherever and however the consumer chooses to engage, has made it even more challenging for marketers to target consumers with advertising messages. Consumers are off the grid so to speak and to target them means getting into their personal space, joining their communities and befriending them.
Now enter the social media revolution, which has it own challenges for marketers. Commercial brands now struggle to appear personable and humanistic in a social media world. Marketing can no longer be disruptive and intrusive but rather a seamless integration into the modern digital media realm is required, unbeknownst to the consumer. Loyalty will therefore be a key factor in the marketing campaigns of the future, where brands will build fan communities (not customer bases) who follow them like modern day brand groupies and purchase not always out of necessity but as a result of the sheer intoxicating influence of the brand. Just ask the folks over at Apple and they’ll tell you the role of the marketing manager is becoming obsolete making room for the brand engagement consular who can connect brands with audiences by becoming one of them.
The brand persona will coalesce where products and people intersect to form a new trend and ultimately a new culture, a new way of life. The brands that become experts at impacting on lifestyle habits and influencing behaviours by merging with consumer communities will make the difference. The consumer no longer chooses to act because the advertiser says so but rather, they make a choice because they are now empowered to. Marketing R.I.P.