The battleground of the modern marketplace, which is rife with waning brand loyalty and hostile takeovers, holds a key theme for survival: relevance.
The bottom line is: how many people think of your brand when they look for a product?
A brand that loses relevancy is a brand that loses money. However, many businesses have stood the trials of time and change by finding ways to keep their name in the back of consumers’ heads.
Businesses that have been around for 100 years and more are still able to tout their product as the “next best thing.”
While competitors have constantly nipped at heels of companies such as Coca-Cola and Apple, these companies have maintained success because of their ability to understand what the market wants.
How do they manage to keep their audience engaged? Here are three ways.
1. Make the consumer feel understood.
In times past, advertising informed people about what they should want. However, modern consumers, especially younger buyers, want to buy the product that they want.
A poll by Business Insider shows that only 41.12% of teens feel that retailers understand them, 39.25% said they were not understood at all, and the other 19% felt conflicted.
Brands like Aeropostale have gone belly up because they kept trying to force consumers to buy styles they did not want.
Brands have revitalized their strategy by implementing surveys or allowing customization. Surveys give young buyers a voice, and Generation Z consumers want a say in what they buy.
Converse, a company that is going on 108, experienced a renaissance after Nike bought them in 2003. Much of the recent success of Converse is attributed to their shift from classic Chuck Taylors to allowing a massive variety of customization by the consumer.
Instead of the traditional basic-canvas look, Converse now offers a designer feel, with options ranging from rainbow sparkles to rustic.
Consumers have the freedom to choose what feels special to them, and a consumer that feels the company understands them will keep coming back for more.
2. Adjust your brand to your new audiences.
Many businesses come up with a mission statement or a message with a specific consumer base in mind. However, the beauty of business and enterprise is the unpredictability of the market.
L.L. Bean, for example, was focused more on the outdoor market in areas such as hunting, fishing and camping.
However, they realized that they should expand their marketing to hikers and mountain-bikers, since they were a huge part of sales. Instead of continuing to promote a rough, outdoorsy brand, they shifted to a tone emphasizing adventure and exploration.
Pop stars reinvent themselves every couple of months, but businesses should recognize their credibility in a new field if they desire to adjust the brand.
If businesses are not cautious, the new look could have the potential of not being taken seriously. A failed shift could mean not just the death of the new brand, but the death of the entire company.
3. Successful social media campaigns.
The most obvious way to stay relevant with consumers is to meet them where they spend most of their time. This means shifting to social media.
Americans spend more time on Instagram and Snapchat than they do on TV, so advertisers must focus on these platforms. However, social media is not always used correctly.
Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign established the apex of social media marketing, with the “#ShareACoke” hashtag dominating Instagram for months. The campaign gave Coca-Cola relevance with younger consumers.
Coca-Cola experienced a tremendous spike in sales, and they managed to counteract growing competition from start-up soda makers such as SodaStream.
A strong social media campaign involves the consumer and enables them to feel as if they are a part of the story.
Old brands that are still achieving success have adapted to the hostile and ever-evolving environment of the marketplace.
Relevance is the most important tool for marketing, and the key to a relevant brand is an ability to adapt to the needs and desires of the consumer.