Having a favourable brand image is no longer enough in 2019. Consumers are demanding visible cultural engagement from their favourite brands.
Cultural authenticity is now driving at least 25% of purchasing decisions in 2019. Increasingly for 83% of consumers, culture has gone beyond the traditional customs, languages, religions and cuisines that have so far defined it.
For today’s Millenial and Gen Z consumers particularly, being inclusive of all types of people is now more important than ever for brands looking to be culturally relevant.
Brands with a high cultural relevance are now preferred by 39% of consumers, compared to 32% for brands with a low cultural relevance.
Despite the huge growth in influencer driven marketing, simply being well known or having a large following, is no longer enough to be deemed culturally relevant.
Overall 58% of consumers now agree that brands now need to be seen as giving back or supporting social causes to really make an impact.
Consumers want to know their money is going to companies that share their values and support the same things that they do.
So how do culturally focused video adverts that integrate current events, trends and issues perform in relation to standard product centric adverts
Studies show that culturally focused video ads succeed in positioning brands as 7% more culturally relevant, 6% more socially responsible and 5% more innovative simply by changing the message and narratives associated with the brand.
In fact, culturally focused video ads were shown to be 56% more memorable than conventional ads. 11% of consumers said they would pay more for brands with more culturally focused video ads. This highlights the emotional connection consumers have with brands who can capture cultural relevance.
The most effective culturally focused ads give a real reason for consumers to finish watching the advert and not simply click skip. They encourage evocative and emotional attachment to the video advert’s narrative; consumers almost forget they are watching an advert. 75% of people who finish a culturally relevant advert say they would purchase from the brand and 48% say they would pay more for it.
Culturally relevant video ads perform best when targeted at consumers between the ages of 16-34, particularly on platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube and even LinkedIn.
The strongest ways for brands to be culturally relevant is to become charitable or inclusive. Helping local communities, supporting social causes and representing everyone’s differences, calls for acceptance and equality amongst all.
How have brands incorporated culture into their advertising and how has this been communicated in video?
Many brands have focused a significant amount of their strategy on taking a stand; they place themselves at the forefront of social issues, alongside their audience, to challenge standard advertising trends.The adverts produced not only aim to contribute to culture, but also broadcast messages that resonate with their audience.
For instance, H&M Autumn 2016 Season campaign positively acknowledged women as not always being prim and proper. Their advert was successfully celebrated as it depicts many women with an array of personalities, body shapes, sizes and ages. This aligns with the brands ethos and social messaging.
Sporting advertising has also championed social change in their content. For example, the #LikeAGirl campaign which challenged the social norms of behaviour towards what girls can and can’t do and the “I Will What I Want“ advert, which confronts and redefines female behaviours and body diversity.
One of the greatest recent examples of a culturally focused video advert that really connected with its target audience is Nike’s – Just Do It: Caster Semenya campaign.
Whilst originally released on the 10th September 2018, it has now become even more culturally relevant. On the 1st May 2019, South African Olympic champion Caster Semenya lost her case against the International Association of Athletics Federation which ruled to restrict testosterone levels in female runners. This caused controversy around the world but particularly in South Africa. Nike re-ran the advert across it’s channels on announcement of the ruling.
With Caster’s voice narrating the video, she opens by saying “Would it be easier for you if I wasn’t so fast? Would it be simpler if I stopped winning? Would you be more comfortable if I was more proud? Would you prefer if I hadn’t worked so hard? Or just didn’t run? Or Chose a different sport, or stopped at my first step. Well that’s too bad! Because I was born to do this.”
Off the back of the recent ruling, and true to Nike’s philosophy of ‘Just Do It’,Caster’s powerful narrative became a direct defiance in the face of those who would see her stop running.
With over 12 million views and a real connection with passionate culturally relevant consumers Nike especially also captured the emotions and brand loyalty of many South Africans and champions of her cause.
What should brands look out for when looking to achieve cultural relevance?
Overall, consumers now expect brands to interact with culture, especially social issues. To stay relevant and keep up with competitors, brands need to keep culture at the forefront of their video advertising.
However, one size does not fit all. Brands need to be conscious of their authenticity and align their position to causes and campaigns that really speak to their target audiences. They also need to assess the risks around disapproval, and whether their position may antagonize other groups who oppose it.
One company who has really been able to speak to its target market has been Cosmetics company Lush, with it’s cruelty free sustainable cosmetics. However, Lush also made a calculated risk with it’s Spy Cops campaign which divided opinion and got a lot of negative publicity. Therefore, brands need to be wary and make a good assessment of the impact of which causes they support. The more politically charged the greater the risk and vice versa.
Indeed, sometimes it may completely backfire and become culturally insensitive. For example, the controversial PepsiCo’s 2017 ad featuring Kendall Jenner, which underplayed the importance of social justice movements, which resulted in PepsiCo issuing an apology and pulling the advert.
From this, adverts going forward should not shy away from the topic of becoming culturally relevant. Adverts should be well thought out and aim for authenticity; refusing gimmicks and trends.This way, they will be able to reach wider audiences and earn their loyalty, as they will gain respect for not just their brand, but their message.