Transformation always has strong relevance in the marketing world. At a very fundamental level, this is defined as - to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of something different from what it is... or from what it would be if left alone.
The world of brands and marketing has evolved strongly adapting and adopting to the social media environment. As per insights, 98.98 per cent of the UAE's population is on social media, with almost 88 per cent on YouTube, 79 per cent on Facebook, and 68 per cent on Instagram. No wonder then that there is a power shift from 'Chief Marketing Officer' to 'Chief Digital Officer'.
Versions of the 'village'
It was Prof. Marshall McLuhan who introduced the phrase "global village" as a metaphor for contemporary society and the changing nature of human beings. Both brands and consumers have been following mass digital-social movement. At such a pace, there will be a fatigue - human beings will either reverse back to old behaviors or seek new.
Such a fatigue has been defined by Techopedia as “users tendency to pull back from social media when they become overwhelmed with too many social media sites, too many friends and followers, and too much time spent online maintaining these connections”.
This month, leading luxury label Bottega Veneta shut down it’s social media accounts and that might signal a trend. This abrupt halt to such promotions shocked the world, especially at a time when luxury ecommerce was stated to be 30 per cent of total sales channel by 2025. Some might argue it’s a sales gimmick, while others speculate an alignment with growing social media fatigue.
Whatever be the reason, luxury brands making such a move is a sign. In addition, COVID-19 has set an alternate pace to life, by slowing it down, giving rise to individualism and new life patterns etc. With such changes, brands have to once again adapt and adopt. If we continue with life as is pre-COVID-19, we might be heading towards a stage of ‘ignorant marketing’.
Another massive issue is the bursting of the influencer marketing bubble. Unilever has refused to work with influencers who use bots and have fake followers, and we are aware of the controversies facing influencers and brands hitting the headlines. The fundamental issue here is trust.
Back to human reality
The big question is are we reversing into the era of an offline world where real physical human connections matter most. Or is there a new trend which is possibly non-digital, which will define the new language of marketing?
Bottega Venetta hitting the headlines with a removal of social media accounts is thus symbolic... and this will create a new story relevant to the world of brands. Maybe, we will see the movement to a new global village with a new format, new fundamentals and a new value system. Marketers surely need to watch out for what’s coming next.
- Rakesh Kumar is CEO of Human Strategic Marketing consultancy.