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How marketing teams can capitalise on demographic shifts

Matt Kapko | Feb. 13, 2015
Businesses can enhance marketing efforts by empowering employees, customers and influencers to spread their stories, and though it's challenging to create an effective corporate culture of creative storytelling, the potential rewards are big.

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Many modern businesses live and die by the stories they tell -- and the stories that are told about them. It's crucial to strike the appropriate tone in today's always-connected forum of oversaturated media and crowded mobile and social distribution channels, but it's no longer about one narrative from a single voice.

The canvas for corporate storytelling is not flat or linear, and businesses can spread their stories by empowering employees, customers and influencers to become a part of the narratives as they unfold. In most cases, the traditional 30-second TV spot or clever catch phrase doesn't cut it anymore.

It can be difficult for older, more rigid companies to give up that control, and building a culture of creative corporate storytelling that embraces content sharing and unbridled conversation is no easy task. However, companies that embrace the change stand to reap very real rewards.

Flipping the Marketing Script
"Marketing campaigns should reflect the increasing diversity of the United States," says Jamie Moldafsky, CMO, Wells Fargo, a bank that employs more than 280,000 people and serves around a third of U.S. households. The bank's "total market journey," as she described it during last week's ANA Brand Masters Conference, is "about addressing the entire shift of our culture."

America and its varied communities are rapidly changing, and Wells Fargo's customers are morphing faster than the company can react, according to Moldafsky. This demographic shift represents an opportunity for the bank, because it feels a strong sense of responsibility to simultaneously change.

"When you realize that in ... less than 30 years the diverse segments will be the dominant segments, we have to fundamentally change how we go to market," Moldafsky says.

Wells Fargo used to separate brand campaigns for different customer segments, but now its latest work is representative and inclusive of all demographics. "It's not about how many different faces we represent," but rather understanding and embracing those cultural differences, she says.

"We know that there are very important differences between our segments, but there's an increasing level of commonality," Moldafsky says. "We can go to market with a story that has universal appeal and then infuse that with some of these cultural cues to make it super relevant to some of these segments."

This new approach to the market hasn't been easy, but Wells Fargo isn't deterred. "The world is changing and there are more people who know that and embrace that than don't," says Moldafsky, who adds that it's the role of marketers to represent this change in their creative work.

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As demographics shift, some businesses are realizing that stereotypes in marketing often do more harm than good -- even if they result in a few good belly laughs.

 

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