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Economic Eras and Brand Consumption

Editor’s Note: Fresh Squeezed Ideas created a video series, The Future of Marketing and How to Win, to not only share ideas on where the future of marketing is headed, but to also provoke some new ways of thinking about brand strategy and marketing.

By Fresh Squeezed Ideas

How does the value of a brand change through different economic eras? Explore how these cycles change brand impact with us as we answer this question in the fifth video of a 9-part video series entitled “The Future of Marketing and How to Win”.

As a marketer, if you are truly customer centric, then you want to understand what is different about your customer.  You see, cultural beliefs are shifting.  Customers simply don’t act the same way as they did when brand strategy models were developed back in the 1950s.

People are fundamentally changing their behaviour as they make different decisions as our culture evolves in this new economic era. For example, at retail, what’s winning are the discount retailers and, interestingly, also the premium retailers. The middle is actually dying. That’s a very different behaviour that’s driven by economic instability and people making different choices.

Now, if you ask somebody, “Why are you shopping at discount, and then going across the street to a premium retailer?” they can’t rationally tell you.  But, what’s driving it is the new cultural beliefs around economics.  So, the brands that are attracting customers, are those that are culturally relevant.

Phillips Design has put forth a model for understanding the economic eras that consumers have moved through. It started with the industrial era, where it was all about ownership driven by mass production, through the experience economy of the 1980s, where brands and marketing really came into the fore offering promises of experience. Now, we’re living through the knowledge economy, where consumers want to be fully self-actualized, and knowledge platforms like Google help get them there.

As culture moves forward in time, new brands are born. In 2008, the American Dream collapsed, along with the economy, and a bunch of brands were created out of that. First was the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the Tea Party, and though they’re not brands you normally think of in terms of products and services, they were consumed by the public through their participation.  The other change that is really interesting to note is how, prior to 2008, the most popular meme in popular culture were vampires. Vampires are very interesting because they have a lot of personal agency, like people did before the economic collapse. After the 2008 collapse, what became the most popular in pop culture?  Zombies—and zombies have no personal agency.

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