Purpose shifts focus to marketing | Opinion

The pandemic has reconfigured the way we communicate our brand values. It is no longer about attracting, but about validating our reason for being before a consumer eager for meaning.

Until recently, companies and their brands worked in the field of communication with a clear goal: to attract the consumer. This is a key function within marketing and product communication strategies to ultimately generate sales.

However, in recent times the role of communication is being reversed. The objective is no longer focused on attracting the consumer, but on proposing the opposite. An outstanding recent example is the Renfe announcement that highlights the need not to travel, to refuse to take a train to go see family members at these parties. In short, do not buy.

Sometimes, due to the very conception of the product or a service, the communication model that has been established invokes the customer to consume less or even not consume. The clearest use that came to be given to this antimarketing it was related to the sustainability aspects of certain products. Thus, drinking water companies continuously urge not to consume and even offer bonuses for not consuming. An example of this new sense of marketing is also that of the electricity companies that, in a more direct way, urge us to consume less and less. Other indirect ones are added, such as those built through business associations related to gambling, alcoholic beverages or even the responsible use of technology.

This model of antimarketing, understood as the actions of the company itself aimed at avoiding or limiting the purchase of its products or services, has been growing in recent years and has gained notoriety and full relevance due to the confinement by Covid-19 last spring, as well as due to movement limitations in the current situation.

Let us remember: the impact left by the pandemic to date is a period in which, for example, income in the hospitality industry is in many cases below 50%; shopping because if it happened to be frowned upon; and the options to go on trips almost disappeared. Faced with this scenario, brands face the challenge of being present in the consumer’s mind when the premise that defines our personal and professional lives today is the #quedateencasa. Those who interpret it best understand that top of mind of its clients today occupy responsibility and solidarity as a result of a challenging year that reconfigured the priority of our values. So, what underlies, as in that “responsible consumption”, is a very clear “do not buy from us now, it is not the time.”

Brands are in the freezer today, a paradoxical metaphor in this frigid week, waiting for the opportunity to resume their activity. They invite us not to consume (neither can we), and they pushed us to dream during the past 2020, showing us their more responsible side.

Oscar Massó is Olivia’s director of communication and development

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