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The Set List: New Rules Of Engagement 

Image © Art Wonder Everyday

Editor’s note: this blog is the third in a series discussing trends and insights into the world around us.

In a generation of time-poor consumers, never has it been more important for brands to find new ways of engaging with their audiences. It’s no longer enough to rely on advertising to gain awareness.

Today’s savvy consumers are looking for experiences that are new and exciting, igniting long lasting relationships between brands and their loyalists.

The ‘here today gone tomorrow’ mindset of brands is causing a shift in engagement strategies—through pop-ups, promotional events and temporary features that surprise and delight, brands are becoming chameleons to present new ways of engaging with existing and new customers. In today’s sharing economy, consumers are engaged with a number of social and online platforms in personal and professional capacities. With these new rules for engagement and by brands providing rich content for consumers to photograph and post, share, tweet and blog about, we are seeing a transformation of ‘consumers into surrogate sales people’ (Stylus.com) essentially doing a lot of the hard work of the brands for them.

Instagram now has 400 million active users, 75 percent of Instagram users are outside the U.S., over 60 percent of users log in daily, making it the second most engaged network after Facebook, 30 percent of Internet users are now on Instagram (source: Brandwatch.com). With these statistics it’s easy to see why consumers seek out the most interesting, diverse and shareable content that they can push out to their fellow followers. It’s all about their personal brand and how they manage it, which we’ll talk more about that in the New Year, so check back then to see how these trends are starting to link.

How many posts about Yayoi Kasuma’s Mirror Rooms of Wonder did you see on Instagram this year? If it’s as many as us then there’s a case in point! The arrival of the exhibition in London in the summer provided the perfect opportunity for guests to go into one of her reflective paradises and not only take a photograph in one of the infinity mirrors, but be part of the show.

Image © Burberry

There are a few key brand players currently out there that are adopting the new rules for engagement and delivering rich, memorable content that resonates with consumers. Burberry’s launch of the 2016 Christmas advert in early November has become more about brand love and a heritage story than promoting a seasonal range. Featuring celebrity actors Sienna Miller, Lily James, Domhnall Gleeson and Dominic West, it celebrates the dawn of the brand with Thomas Burberry at the helm. The three minute feature film is designed to be similar to a trailer for a blockbuster release, building a story around the main character whilst providing a valuable insight into the heritage of the brand and how it came to be. It left people hooked on the idea and story of Burberry, with most comments centred around the question, "When’s the film out?!" The video has now been viewed 8,420,685 times on YouTube, and shared 10,468 times on Facebook alone—that’s not counting the countless website hits.

Floating house you say? Airbnb took to the River Thames earlier last year, floating a habitable home through central London to promote the new act that meant Londoners can rent their homes through the site without the impact of fines. According to The Guardian, "The publicity stunt follows the passing of the Deregulation Act last month, which means Londoners are now free to rent their homes for up to 90 days a year without risk of fines or having to secure planning permission before doing so."

So what’s next? We see the future rules for brand engagement to be more about resonating with consumers than ever, making them fall in love with the idea of the brand and what they stand for. The best thing about this trend is that we literally don’t know what brands are going to do next to get our attention! Watch this space, we’re excited...

Hannah Rummery has extensive experience working across branding, retail and hospitality projects internationally in the UK, Europe, US and South America. A curious mind with a creative, energetic personality, Hannah is passionate about developing how brands tell stories and create captivating experiences to engage new and existing audiences in all of its forms. Contact her at hannah_rummery@gensler.com.

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