We are high on trends!

Trends could be strange. Shocking for some, baffling for others. At first sight, they seem incomprehensible, for instance due to their naming or origin. But when you stop and think about it, they often make sense!

The American director Frank Capra once said, “Don’t follow trends, start trends.” In the age of digitization and automation of marketing activities, these words really matter. Changes are taking place so quickly that what used to be a trend yesterday is passé today. The pandemic worked as an additional catalyst for this revolution, speeding up the digitization of businesses by at least a decade. However, you need to remember that the degree of technological advancement is not the only variable that determines whether a brand is trendy or not. More and more importance is being attached to the marketing of values. On its basis, megatrends, microtrends, and mesotrends are being created, which make the advertising market more dynamic.

Any brand could be a trendsetter. It all depends on its openness to social, economic, and technological changes. According to the latest Trend Report 2022,[1] the brands that follow trends develop their products in a conscious way, in line with the expectations of consumers. The global trends that affect the shape of the brand include naturality, nostalgia, simplicity, multisensation, authenticity, personalization, gamification, experience, tribalism, and prosumerism. In order to fully understand the mechanisms of change, we explicate the megatrends identified in global studies and present them in view of Polish and foreign brands. The naming convention for the trends and megatrends described in this series of articles has been developed for its purpose.

Megatrend #1

#Ideolomarketing – the ideologization of brands is becoming more and more popular. It is said that brands are becoming radical around a specific system of values, which results in them adopting a specific standpoint. This usually concerns world views and political, social, and religious issues. Over the years, brands have transformed from passive observers into active participants.

P&G research shows that 2/3 of consumers (representatives of the young generation) believe that it is unacceptable for brands to stay silent on major social issues.[2] As many as 50% make purchase decisions based on the fact that they share the brand’s beliefs. According to the data from Sustainable Brands, 9 out of 10 consumers expect that brands will work for the common good and declare that they will support such brands.[3]

Looking at data, you could say that many brands are undergoing ideologization processes. They focus on selected social areas, which they want to support, finance, and identify with. What areas are those? The main ones include:

  • Be eco-friendly – the focus on ecology is not only the FMCG industry and the old slogans: plastic is not fantastic, eco-friendly packages, but also exists in the finance, automotive, and home appliances sectors. Advertisers compete to create the best eco campaigns. Credit Agricole offers payment cards made from ecological materials, Nestlé sells the Yes bars in biodegradable packagings, and BSH proposes energy-saving and ecological products through its #LikeaBosch communication platform.

    On foreign markets, the brands are even bolder. They often manifest their proecological attitudes at the level of both the product and the communication. McDonald’s ditches plastic in their HappyMeal toys,[4] Taco Bell encourages customers to send back used sauce boxes to recycle them,[5] and Asda[6] has introduced a store that allows customers to buy loose products by filling reusable boxes, so as to limit the volume of packagins.

    Unfortunately, one in three consumers does not believe that ecological ads are sincere (Ekobarometr by SW Research).[7] As a result, there is a strong need to emphasize and promote eco values, so as to make sure that is not just a reason to believe (RTB) in the brand’s strategic document, but a true RTB for the client. Consequently, greenwashing will become a myth, giving way to a truly proecological mission of the brand.
  • Human Empowerment – support for diversity. Previously, just a few brands used this trend in their activities. The belief was that the role of the brand is to boost sales, and that’s it. However, this strategy is not enough anymore. More and more often, brands take on the role of a coach, psychologist, and ally in everyday life. They empower us. They encourage us to take up challenges and overcome our individual barriers that are often a result of disability, complexes, or physical appearance. Brands are not afraid of difficult topics that used to be a taboo.

    Examples include the #YOURturn campaign by the Pekao Bank (which encourages overcoming internal barriers and taking up challenges), Colgate’s ad (showing people with physical imperfections, who are encouraged to do things), the campaign by Benefit (a cosmetics campaign featuring a model with Down syndrome,[8] in which the brand affirms the “power for those who are not typical”), or the global Black Beauty campaign by Sephora.[9]
YouTube, Sephora
  • Women Power – according to the latest New Marketing trendbook,[10] “future belongs to the brands that are aware and proactive.” Are the brands present on the Polish market ready for that? The answer is short: YES. The best example here is the nationwide Women’s Strike and the related activities of brands. mBank was one of the first to publish a post showing support for the Strike from the bank’s female employees. Lau Jewelry sent a ring for every confirmation of a bank transfer of PLN 189 or PLN 289 to the Women’s Strike and Green Cafe Nero demonstrated its support for women.

    These examples show another trend: women power. In her 2021 report,[11] Natalia Hatalska called this #womenomics or #girlpower. This trend is defined as empowering women, ensuring equal opportunities between men and women, and increasing the role of women in business. Both the Polish market and the foreign markets see more and more campaigns based on an insight that opposes discrimination against women on grounds of career, profession, physical strength, and the place in the social structure. Examples include the femvertising campaign of BNP Paribas: “Put women on banknotes,” “Where are our patrons?,” and “When I grow up, will there…” Abroad, Durex did Ladies Let’s Lube,[12] Salomon carried out #SalomonWMN,[13] and Heineken promoted Cheers to All.[14]
YouTube, Salomon
  • Fair Play Life – being far towards the planet, the natural environment, commerce, and people is being popularized by activist movements, but also by marketing departments. There is a whole range of microtrends that express the #befair idea and are creatively used in advertising campaigns. This includes the zero waste movement, renting rather than buying, ethical farms, eco marks, the idea of flexitarianism, slow fashion, carsharing, food sharing, second hand stores, sharing economy, recycling, and fair trade.

    These trends are reflected in specific actions taken by brands. This could be illustrated with the following case studies: Vinted – second hand clothes, McDonald’s veggie burger – flexitarianism, Żywiec Zdrój and its bottles made of recycled plastic – recycling, Netflix/Spotify – renting rather than buying. Globally, examples include Madewell – Circular Shop,[15] Superfrau – Upcycled Whey,[16] and Pyt Beauty’s – Vegan Setting Spray.[17]

We are high on trends is a series of articles in which we present megatrends and describe microtrends, as both have an equally large impact on the activities of brands. We write about changes, values, and directions, offering lots of inspiring case studies from Poland and all over the world!

In the next installment, you will have an opportunity to read about the Popculture popularization megatrend and the sound marketingretro-moderngaming/e-sport, and Tik Tok Boom subtrends.

Szymon Krzysiak
Szymon Krzysiak