PR Trends: A Holiday Mindset
Let’s cut right to the chase; time is of the essence when figuring out the mindset of this season’s holiday consumer. Success will come to those creating alluring digital personal experiences. This is important for all consumer demographics, but perhaps most relevant for the subset of consumers 35 and under. It is safe to say that holidays are a joyful time but can also create high levels of anxiety, even for those of us who embrace the season wholeheartedly. In this heightened emotional and high dollar consumer marketplace, savvy brands must connect with their customer(s) by creating an emotional personal experience. To understand their fragility, not only do you need to show empathy, but you must also be relevant, useful, trustworthy, and respectful.
Indulge me for a moment while I discuss the relevance and importance of one of my all-time favorite current Zeitgeist catchphrases, “digital Darwinism.” As technology and society evolve in parallel, so does the human social behavior. As Darwin’s research so aptly showed us, it is not the strongest or most intelligent of the species that survives; it is the one that is most adaptable to change. Change in many areas of human evolution happens slowly, giving us ample time to adapt to what’s new. With technology, human behavior has to adapt at a much faster rate. Consumers cannot be left to figure this out on their own. In an ideal circumstance, we will hold their hand, gleefully guiding them down a glittery path of adaptive AI technological realization.
To ultimately thrive in this age of digital Darwinism, companies must humanize AI and give it purpose by engaging the consumer through a lens of extreme personalization. Alexa and Google Home have already infiltrated our homes, so much so that NPR’ s Morning Edition recently aired a program discussing the importance of politely “talking” to these devices while around children so that kids may be guided by proper grown-up social cues. In past posts, we’ve stressed the importance of avoiding jumping on a trend because of hype. In this case, we encourage you to dive in headfirst and quickly figure out ways to creatively and empathetically connect with your customer through AI personalization and if possible, give them something they didn’t know they wanted and now can’t live without.
Tailor is a startup that is part of Google’s incubator, Area 120. At first glance, it looks like a run of the mill over hyped stylist-assisted services most closely akin to Stitchfix without the box delivery. Look more closely, and you’ll see a savvy nuanced subsection as of yet untapped by the more familiar competition. Appealing to anyone with a closet full of clothes they no longer wear and don’t know what to do with, i.e., most of us, Tailor has a service to help you find new ways to wear items you already own or help you get rid of items that don’t suit you or fit poorly. Curious, in that this model doesn’t naturally lend itself to new sales, but rest assured, once the customer’s trust has been built, purchase recommendations by said trusted stylist would most likely be taken without much hesitation. There we have it, empathetic, relevant, useful, trustworthy and respectful, the magic combo that will lead to an engaged and loyal customer base ready for digital marketplace evolution.
Sometimes as we evolve, we are so focused on the new; we lose sight of innovations along the way that were loved by the consumer and then discarded for one reason or another. Step on up nostalgia! Change is hard. Humans love to cozy up to the familiar, nestle into things that make sense and feel right. When we find something we are in love with, we put up a fight when it is taken away. It makes evolving difficult for some. The mobile device industry is aware of this, and several big players with not so distant device extinctions are reclaiming their territory, or at least trying to.
Nokia has relaunched an icon amidst enthusiastic fanfare. The Nokia 3310 achieved cult status 17 years ago, so much so that Finland (where it was designed) created an emoji for it as a cultural symbol along with the sauna and the headbanger. The phone was one of the highest selling phones of its time and was known for its durability as well as a cool game called Snake. Durability isn’t exactly one of the selling points of today’s smartphones, and consumers are hip to the fact that phones are made to last just long enough to benefit the manufacturer. Well, what’s old is new again, and Nokia is nostalgically banking on it.
Emotions are high, consumers are feeling especially vulnerable and brands have a great opportunity to do a little consumer hand holding. This holiday season, whether it’s leading consumers down the overwhelming path of digital Darwinism by humanizing and personalizing the AI experience, or appealing to a beautiful sense of the past by reinvigorating nostalgia, make sure to err heavily on empathy and authenticity. Though consumer emotions are fragile and heightened, so too is their no bull spidey sense.