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Consumers, Culture, Media, and Brands - Guest lecture pt. II


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How consumers have evolved as readers of media texts and what this means for brands. A guest lecture by Henri Weijo ( at the Helsinki School of Economics. Course: Brands in Strategic Marketing.

Published in: Business

Consumers, Culture, Media, and Brands - Guest lecture pt. II

  1. 1. Consumers, Culture, and Media How consumers have evolved as readers of media texts and what this means for brands
  2. 2. So where were we? <ul><li>Last week we went through brand, branding, brand management and competitive environment </li></ul><ul><li>Today, we’ll finish off the concept of “consumer” from my thesis </li></ul><ul><li>The second half of this lecture will concentrate on my current research in media and culture </li></ul>
  3. 3. Consumer <ul><li>Consumer: single actor who can be considered to be in the sphere of influence of a brand and a potential customer </li></ul>
  4. 4. Logic for segmentation <ul><li>mind-share : buying behavior </li></ul><ul><li>emotional branding : brand loyalty (!=buying behavior), but social demographic key for predicting buying behavior (Baby boomers, Gen X, Millenials etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>viral : actions done on brand's behalf </li></ul><ul><li>cultural : a person's cultural stature in relations to brand </li></ul><ul><li>Viral theory tells you WHAT people do on behalf of a brand, cultural branding tells you WHY </li></ul>
  5. 5. How people buy (1/2) <ul><li>mind-share : people are rational problem solvers seeking emotional benefits </li></ul><ul><li>All the rest: information processing is not conscious and information seeking is passive </li></ul><ul><li>All models agree: brands are a means for self-expression and a “social object” (Fournier 1998: Consumers and their brands) </li></ul><ul><li>In other words, people seek communal benefits from brands </li></ul>
  6. 6. How people buy (2/2) <ul><li>All models talk about brands as badges and as “tickets to subcultures” for consumers, though cultural takes a slightly more broader view (brands competing with movies, books, politicians etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>What we DON'T consume has become a major driver for identity (Fournier 1998) </li></ul>
  7. 7. CLUTTER
  8. 8. Advertising and clutter (1/2) <ul><li>Ha & Litman 1997: &quot;Clutter due to diminished effectiveness” </li></ul><ul><li>This is especially key in viral branding: “Advertising doesn’t work anymore!” </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural branding is the slight exception from the group, arguing that good ads are still embraced by consumers </li></ul><ul><li>As a general rule: the newer the branding model, the more advertising resistant the consumer is seen to be </li></ul>
  9. 9. Advertising and clutter (2/2) <ul><li>Elliott & Speck 1998: &quot;Clutter leads to the rise of consumerism and marketing seeing as a deceptive art” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Naomi Klein “ No Logo ” 2001, Alissa Quart “ Branded ” 2003, Adbusters etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>An advertiser has basically become a soulless huckster (e.g. Mad Men), marketers are now resented in western culture </li></ul><ul><li>“ Authenticity is the consumer sensitivity right now” (Gilmore & Pine 2007) and has roots in anti-commercialism </li></ul><ul><li>All the branding models cited authenticity as a key consumer preference, the new models emphasized it </li></ul>
  10. 10. (Almost) complete freedom of identity expression
  11. 11. An endless supply of identities <ul><li>People are now free to transfer themselves pretty much in any way they like (McCracken 2008) </li></ul><ul><li>In the old days there was a lot of societal resistance when people tried to “move up” in social stature via imitation and adaptation; now, significantly less </li></ul><ul><li>The speed of identity transformation for people has become extraordinary </li></ul><ul><li>Transformation has become a fixture of the entertainment industry; can anybody keep up how many times Madonna has reinvented herself in these past 20 years? </li></ul>
  12. 12. An endless supply of identities <ul><li>Markers of age, gender, sexuality, status have become more or less negotiable now </li></ul><ul><li>Transformation transcends what we normally see as identity construction, especially from a marketing perspective; a lot of brands are in fact “selling” transformations as their core promise </li></ul><ul><li>THE consumer problem of the 21st century: how to be different enough to be remarkable, but not too different to be an outcast (Rob Walker 2008) </li></ul>
  13. 13. What is media literacy? <ul><li>Media literacy: “the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and communicate messages in a variety of forms” (Aufderheide, 1993) </li></ul><ul><li>Our advertising savviness is a result of our increased exposure to different media, and the resulting media literacy (Holt 2002: Why do brands cause trouble?) </li></ul><ul><li>The audience’s media literacy is always increasing, but lately this has accelerated, and the requirements of media literacy have become too much for some </li></ul>
  14. 14. What is media literacy? <ul><li>The ability to produce content for a medium has always been a part of media literacy, but in the digital age its importance has increased dramatically </li></ul><ul><li>Digital media require handling a complex mix of audiovisual–textual media technologies, both producing and deciphering meanings (Lüders 2008) </li></ul><ul><li>Advertiser’s problem: how to make advertising to (young) people who are more media literate than you? </li></ul><ul><li>Many companies have been burned when trying to fake viral phenomena, aka Astroturfing </li></ul>
  15. 15. Jenkins - Convergence Culture <ul><li>Media convergence is based on two forces at work: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bottom-up participatory culture of people modifying and sharing existing media content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Top-down paradigm of media conglomeration and scale economies in diffusing content via different channels </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ The power of grassroots media is that it diversifies; the power of broadcast media is that it amplifies.” </li></ul><ul><li>Media convergence is a return to folk culture: the divide between content producer and consumer is blurred; everybody is a participant in creating content </li></ul><ul><li>Transmedia storytelling: creating “worlds” where people can participate in via different media channels </li></ul>
  16. 16. Culture in media literacy <ul><li>In addition to being able to create content, many have argued for an extension of media literacy to include reading culture (Hirsch, 1987; McLuhan 1967) or even ‘reading the world’ (Freire and Macedo, 1987, Jenkins 2006). </li></ul><ul><li>The inclusion of culture is crucial to understanding identity construction, but also understanding advertising effectiveness and telling the story of a brand </li></ul>
  17. 17. Pop culture and storytelling <ul><li>Somewhere down the line, popular culture started to reference itself and got really smart. (McCracken 2008) </li></ul><ul><li>To many, this is counter-intuitive. Pop culture was supposed to be dumbing itself (and us!) down </li></ul><ul><li>Using pop culture references, people can take some things as given, it both speeds up and opens new possibilities for better storytelling </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;It's as if we are getting so good at contemporary culture that lots can be removed.” (McCracken 2009) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Characters in transmedia stories do not need to be introduced so much as reintroduced, because they are known from other sources” (Jenkins 2006) </li></ul>
  18. 18. Pop culture and storytelling <ul><li>Self-reference is now the lingua franca of pop culture </li></ul><ul><li>Not just movies and TV, hip hop has pioneered cultural references in music </li></ul><ul><li>4 EXAMPLES: </li></ul><ul><li>Amount of cultural references in the Simpsons, “ Deep Space Homer ” </li></ul><ul><li>The obscurity of cultural references in Family Guy & William Shatner’s “Rocketman” </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural reference in advertising: Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi </li></ul><ul><li>Using cultural references in cultural branding: Nike and “Jordan XXI” </li></ul>
  19. 19. There were 13 pop culture references (TV shows, movies, music) in the episode – more than 1 every 2 minutes
  20. 20. William Shatner‘s performance of “Rocketman” at the 1978 Science Fiction Film Awards was duplicated frame by frame in a 2001 Family Guy episode.
  21. 21. Coca-Cola’s “Mean Joe Greene” ad is one of the most famous and successful ads of all time (and featured in Holt’s “How brands become icons” as an example of cultural branding)…
  22. 22. … and it was spoofed by Pepsi over 20 years later in their own version with David Beckham.
  23. 23. Nike’s commercial for Jordan XXI featured young players from around the world re-enacting classic Michael Jordan traits as well as some classic highlights. The ads storytelling works as a “normal” cultural branding ad with Nike’s performance myth, but the references are a special nod to culturally literate insiders.
  24. 24. A word to the wise <ul><li>Too obscure cultural references and transmedia storytelling might demand too much from “Joe Popcorn” and might not fit into your branding strategy (Jenkins 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>In the end, new media channels are not pushing old media channels out of the market, they are complementing them, mostly because consumers are not willing to think over their relationships to media content right away (Jenkins 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>Nevertheless, cultural references and stories flowing across multiple media platforms is the direction we are heading at a quickening pace </li></ul>
  25. 25. Hot topics for the future <ul><li>Advances in media literacy : is the divide between “cans” and “cannots” insurmountable? </li></ul><ul><li>Transmedia storytelling : are traditional brands going to be embrace the business models of the Matrix and Star Wars franchises? </li></ul><ul><li>The copyright wars : are brands going to let users play with and remix their copyrighted content? </li></ul><ul><li>Audience fragmentation : the internet is as inclusive as it is exclusive, what are the impacts to our culture? Is the global village still alive? </li></ul>
  26. 26. Appendix
  27. 27. Comp. Env. concepts 1/4 <ul><li>Mind-share: </li></ul><ul><li>a quality-aware, price-sensitive and moderately advertising-resistant single actor who actively and rationally seeks brands and brand relationships that fit and express one or many of the multiple selves he or she possesses, aims to differentiate brands by breaking them into easily comprehensible categories or humanized elements, reacts to brands based on past exposures and seeks to socialize and share with other brand users, and whose attitude towards brands is dependent on buying behavior. </li></ul>
  28. 28. Consumer concepts 2/4 <ul><li>Emotional: </li></ul><ul><li>“ a single actor who looks to build long-lasting relationships and engage in communal activity with personal and perceived non-mainstream brands because they enable aspirational lifestyle self-expression and connection to relevant meanings, is highly marketing savvy, is both bombarded by advertising and antimarketing, craves authenticity, and whose consumption tastes are defined by his/her social demographic more than anything else and whose consumption is guided by emotions and uncognitive factors.” </li></ul>
  29. 29. Consumer concepts 3/4 <ul><li>Viral: </li></ul><ul><li>“ an extremely influential and advertising-resenting single actor, who loves to take ownership, help, defend and actively redefine brands in a hobby-like manner that represent her aspired lifestyle and are deemed authentic, enthusiastically seeks communal activity with likeminded brand users across the globe through social networks, and likes to show expertise or insider status relating to the brand by sharing information.” </li></ul>
  30. 30. Consumer concepts 4/4 <ul><li>Cultural: </li></ul><ul><li>“ a potentially extremely influential and advertising resenting individual, who uses brands in a ritualistic fashion to soothe deep and barely perceptible emotions and anxieties, whose consumption relationship with the brand can be determined by his/her relationship with the populist world from which the brand gets its claim to authenticity, and who uses other people’s experiences to construct an identity, heavily seeks belonging but also exclusion of those not deemed worthy and sees non-commercial following of an ethos or ideal as authentic and worthy of aspiration.” </li></ul>
  31. 31. Participating in Conv. Culture <ul><li>the ability to pool knowledge with others </li></ul><ul><li>the ability to share and compare value systems by evaluating ethical dramas </li></ul><ul><li>the ability to make connections across scattered pieces of information </li></ul><ul><li>the ability to express these interpretations and feelings towards popular fictions through ones own folk culture </li></ul><ul><li>the ability to circulate what you have created via the Internet so that it can be shared with others. </li></ul><ul><li>-- Jenkins 2006 </li></ul>