Thinking About the Future
British brands currently enjoy great success and global desirability but is this current good climate and willing to take the short term route using social media influencers, clouding more balanced thought about how to grow future sales and income in a co-ordinated, structured manner?
Whilst the met boys give us hope that we may yet see an Indian summer this coming month, the end of 2018’s heat wave and our subsequent return to soggy normality got me thinking about the future. This started with various environmental thoughts about the possible death of tweed and heavier weight English fabrics (come on…. in a warmer year-round country, who’d want to overheat in thick 15-ounce fabric) and more al fresco dining opportunities via people’s obsession with apparently putting their semi naked and sloshed selves all over social media during the heat, to the more general survival of British heritage and start up craft brands in the future.
Why the leap in thinking you might ask..? The fact simply is we now appear to have reached a point where if it’s not on social media, it hasn’t taken place in our lives – we appear to not even bother to use our own memories. Brands obsession with social media – often driven we have found at Riddle, by lack of digital understanding – has meant they have fallen over themselves to embrace this aspect of online conversation. There is no doubting it has reach and influence – especially to a younger audience – is instant and offers a way of humanising a brand in the eyes of potential consumers. Yet, this tsunami of digital information has reached a point where several UK and American papers have reported on the fact it’s no longer just Silicon Valley CEOs unplugging from it all, it’s also the young.
This shouldn’t be surprising but the problem for many British craft firms is how will they respond to this. Business development and marketing over the years have been completely misunderstood by many brands; we have come across many who have been utterly unaware of how many parts there are to an integrated marketing campaign of which PR is merely one strand, as is social media (and these two strands themselves are very separate). And a marketing strategy is only one part of an overarching business plan behind that… Rather than investing in marketing – to assist driving marketing and thus sales – too many brands turn too early to PR who, in turn as their focus is simple exposure and not turnover and sales growth, push brands to very social media and influencer-oriented short-term tactics. This may well offer instant customer , ”likes” and an occasional sale but any competent business will know you need to invest in multiple, co-ordinated plans that will deliver short, medium and long-term consistent sales and growth. Social media will deliver that immediate boost but many British firms have struggled to understand there is a requirement to invest in the medium and far term plans that sit behind this and understand some planning streams will see delayed success and gratification. The very instantaneous – seen and gone – of social media is a weakness, when used intelligently it has great utility, when it is the be all and end all – problems await. That said, this view is completely understandable in an over saturated, low loyalty marketplace as firms fairly enough worry about the next month of sales and income, this point next year is not often on the radar.
Finding that marketing balance will be key to British brands success in the future. Even amongst the more perceptive influencers there is an increasing belief that their influence is waning, the few honest ones who openly state they are in a commercial affiliation with a given brand are overwhelmed by those who have no qualms in claiming they are objective despite privately not even dealing with a firm unless there are up front materialistic benefits. Given this enables too many to project an unrealistic and wholly false façade to those real world consumers who actually need to think twice and often thrice before indulging in purchasing a luxury that the influencer deems essential, it seems that this social media obsessive tactic (it cannot be called a strategy) could do a brand grave damage should, as some believe, we are heading for another financially and economically turbulent period and all people will continue to see are influencers enjoying the good life at brand’s expense; could this resentment backfire onto the brand behind the face?
People, especially millennials, are incredibly digitally savvy, crave authenticity and honesty in a hyper-materialistic world that is increasingly being priced out of reach. We have seen it is too easy for brands who have not taken a step back to rigorously analyse what they are and where they wish to be in the future, to take a short-term narrow viewpoint regarding their digital presence. This has meant, in a few cases we have seen, the brand has virtually handed over custody of its vision and soul to short termist interlopers. This is turn has meant the brand has almost be forced into an ever spiralling tactic of chasing the next social media image and “like”; excellent for transient coverage but very unbalanced in planning for longer term growth and control of how the brand wishes to be seen in years to come.