Aoife Murphy says New Year resolutions can be distracting. It is because they demand immediate and often drastic change
We all know sudden, unplanned change is doomed to fail. That is why when it comes to managing your brands and its communications we should step into the new year with optimism but view it as a time of opportunity to evolve and innovate, not completely shape-shift. A new year is always a good time to reassess and decide what to take with you and what to leave behind.
While there are some things we thought we’d be rid of (ahem, Covid), there are bubbling, maybe even familiar trends taking hold that we should embrace as marketers. Top of the list: sustainability, which is best thought of as an iceberg. There are the visible parts of your strategy up top but there is the foundational platform underneath that should have much more of a presence.
It should be stronger, more solid and well thought through. Only plan the communications side of your strategy when you have the anchor points in place. 2022 will see sustainability efforts of brands and businesses evolve more maturely. Small-time initiatives like plastic straws will get less focus as companies drill down on the new ‘double bottom line’, balancing profit with the planet.
Toying with bricks and imagination: Lego’s #buildtogive adapts a familiar campaign to our homebound situations. The Danish toymaker invites people of all ages to build a star. For every one shared, they donate a playset to a family in need. However, be warned, if embracing diversity is on your to-do list for 2022, be sure to approach it openly and authentically as any attempt to profiteer at the expense of others will not be met kindly.
Internal sustainability strategies will gain momentum but the priority should be internal stakeholder engagement, transparency and measurement. Cop26 came and went with little fanfare. For many people, sustainability is still not fully understood. While 75 per cent of Irish adults say they’re actively trying to reduce waste in their home, a recent B&A study stated otherwise.
It showed that only one in 10 Irish consumers are trying to buy more sustainable products, pointing to a gap between intent and behaviour. However, mindset is shifting. Brands like AIB and Aldi lay the groundwork and are open about their commitment. McKinsey studies show that CEOs expect sustainability strategies to deliver value in the form of employee and consumer engagement in the next 3-5 years.
2022 will be a hands-on year, literally. Pandemic restrictions allowing, the return of close-up experiences will restore an essential brand channel. Thanks to the prevailing messages of hygiene and safety, the loss of tactile expressions has left us hungry for real world touch. There is a desire for in-person events and experiences centred around texture, smell, touch, atmosphere and play.
There is also an opportunity to bring more human senses into the digital world with the evolution of haptics and a greater interest in building digital versions of ourselves, our communities and environments. Hello metaverse. Demand for these experiences will vary but there are openings in all sectors. Being mindful of the role of the home for consumers in 2022 is a good starting point.
Some 43 per cent of Irish adults intend to entertain more at home, even after Covid-19 ends. Emerging discovery points and new audiences growing in comfort online means the experiences designed this year may need to fulfil different needs to the retail anchored ones pre-pandemic.
Foresight Factory recently reported that 41 per cent of Irish adults said advertising in Ireland does not do a good job at representing diversity in this country. The figure is up on 2018 studies but remains below the global average. The findings indicate that there is growing awareness of the diversity of our society, but brands are not yet reflecting it as well as they could or should be.
Depending on where your brand is on the journey, inclusivity and diversity should play a role in your creative decisions. If you have had these conversations, consider how diverse groups could play a role in NPD. Are there communities your brand already contributes to that you can celebrate? Or should you review how you can remove biases in the consumer journey or path to purchase?
Aussie Hair Care’s use of Baddie Winkle in their influencer marketing or Ikea’s ‘Thisables’ furniture for people with physical disabilities are two sources of inspiration and discussion for a more diverse 2022. While the trend has more momentum behind it, especially for young people, it remains a polarising one, and a brewing wokelash means some consumers are cynical of woke culture.
Aoife Murphy is executive strategy director at Boys+Girls