An emerging consumer trend begging for help
When you speak with many people in marketing ( which I happen to do) you will find a growing number of those people who are frantically trying to fulfil their need for creating value in a broader sense than the good old shareholders value. (and I am certainly not only talking about millennials here baby) I have seen many men and women leaving the corporate rat race at crucial stages of their careers, longing for meaning and relevance other than annual targets and prestigious marketing awards. They either joined social entreprises or switched their careers to an NGO in the quest for piece of mind and a meaningful life ( whatever that might mean). Others even reinvented themselves completely and became yoga teachers or child therapists.
The Sweet Enemy
What if you still work in an industry that is the equivalent of evil. How do you sell your future boyfriend that you have worked for five years in the cigarette industry and never missed a bonus because you recruited many new market segments? Or even worse what if you were at the foundation of child obesity by being the category manager of a popsicle brand. “We just declared the war on sugar man, how can you possibly be an officer of the sweet enemy?” It makes you wonder how these people sleep at night?
Isn’t the definition of good and bad, when it comes to consumer products, becoming more bad than good? Car industry? Pollution and world destruction in general. Pharma products? You can as well tell you are working for the Mafia. Google, nice working conditions, but the new information dictator. Almost every industry represents collateral consumer damage that you would rather not be held responsible for.
One of the main emerging consumer trends is REHAB Design. More and more brands and companies are developing programs and campaigns to limit the damage of excessive use.
Heineken came up with a campaign that tells their beer drinkers that they can have fun without alcohol. http://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/heineken-0-0s-first-ads-prove-you-can-have-fun-without-alcohol/ Alcohol once the most accepted hard drug in the world is slowly loosing ground since the younger generation is more aware of the downsides of Friday night drinks.
As a brand you can lure them into your product or service walhalla but future consumers will demand from you to offer them a way out when they need it. Now this REHAB Design is not only an applicable trend in the FMCG industry it might even be most relevant in the digital world.
In his amazing book Irresistable, Adam Adler shows us how technology and entertain are designed to get us hooked. How online games but also Netflix turn us into entertainment junkies that dedicated way too much time to things in life that will make us unhappy in the end. His book is another sign that people are becoming more aware of the darker side of buying happiness.
The biggest gaming and social media company of China Tencent altered their most addictive online game ‘Honour of Kings’ by adding timelimits to the programm based on the age of their gamers. There was too much pressure of parents and governmental institution complaining that a complete generation was showing serious signs of addiction. Many stakeholders were happy, but not the not stock market, who relentlessly punished Tencent Unfortunately the company was confronted with a 4 % decline of their value the day after the timeslots were announced. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-tencent-games-idUSKBN19Q065) But hey, who lets shareholders lead their agenda today?
What does this trend imply?
When getting lost in a discussion on the big bad of capitalism, we all might end up quitting our jobs and set off to become a health educator in Eastern Africa. But that is not what REHAB design is all about. Embracing this trend every brand and marketing team should seriously take their time to acknowledge how they hurt, damage or disturb a society a neighbourhood a person or a family with taking on different perspectives on what is good and what is bad. You and your music company might think every human being deserves a good song at all times. But what if this implies the loss of silence and the ability (or joy) to live in stillness? Be honest and even blow up the effect. Think of a rehab-program (a project that will help consumers, workers, clients to deal with their addictive behaviour or negative impact related to your proposition) that will not only green wash your brand image, but also address meaningful subjects. Collateral benefit of this trend will be happier marketing people as well.
No, it is not my intention to lecture you on brand ethics, not at all.. But be aware the future consumer wil be more and more an ethical consumer who expects you to raise your moral standards.