I am writing this just coming from one of the best lectures I have had at university. Inspiring, to the point and actually current – just what a lecture should be. Professionals from LSN:Global and The Future Laboratory gave an informed and aspirational talk about the current marketing trends in not just the fashion industry, but in the marketing business globally, and discussed the ins and outs of the trend, and its implications for the fashion industry. I feel so energised and excited that I just need to digress what I have learnt and heard and it’s also a really true sociological experience that I truly enjoy learning about on this course, because it’s so interesting to see subjects become reality.
What is backlash culture? The Future Lab identify it as a movement that doesn’t always mean the customer is right. The customer can be wrong, and the brand can be right, however this is tricky territory when it comes to the ever growing social age that we live in. Social media is a real trend driver in the backlash culture. We are constantly bombarded with overwhelming amounts of information – from oil spills, wars, terror, lack of equality, the world is full of inequality, and it is at our fingertips through social media. We no longer wait for the newspaper to come through the letterbox, or the 6 o’clock news to arise onto our TVs, because we can wake up, roll over and watch the worlds events roll out on our screens.
In terms of branding and marketing, the backlash can come from both sides. Consumers are constantly being hoodwinked by brands, when it comes to branding, claims and false USPs commercial objects promise to offer, and this transparency that social media gives us, has lead to scandal after scandal with major global brands. For example, in 2015 Volkswagen managed to fix a device on their cars that meant that when the cars were tested environmentally, the carbon emissions displayed lower than they actually were, leading to outrage from consumers, and an economic bill for Volkswagen that was more than the amount of the BP oil spill. Despite this backlash culture, brands and consumers still need that transparent relationship so each other know what page they’re on, because you don’t want the backlash to mean a loss in customer or brand loyalty.
Another aspect of the backlash culture that from the other side of the lens is the consumer backlash. Consumers are bored, and I am so glad that this topic has been picked up by a leading Trend consultancy and marketing agency because as a consumer, I agree with this notion of boredom in marketing by fashion houses at the moment. If brands don’t spice it up and keep up with the times, and utilise such tools as WGSN, LSN and the Trend Lab, they’re going to sink and disappear, and that’s when customers backlash against the brands. If they aren’t emotionally inspired, captivated or included in the message of the brand then they’re not going to buy into it.
This trend impacts brands and people in many ways. Brands are beginning to write their own rules, and prove that the consumer isn’t always right. Yes it’s important to listen to consumers and hear what they want from brands and create these experiences that they desire however is it more important to have brand resonance and identity? Dignity is important for a brand, and it’s more beneficial to not partake in something that doesn’t fit with your brand ethos, than partake in something that results in financial gain. A great example of this is outdoors fashion brand REI with their campaign #OptOutside. This was a great concept to show that they don’t want to take part in the annual frenzy that is Black Friday. It’s a clear signal that they don’t want to partake, and some consumers will applaud this action of not giving a fuck and doing what they want to, as it’s relatable to them.
A final idea that this trend of breaking the mould and going against the norm is BrandStanding. This idea of making a stand rather than sitting on the fence really encapsulates the millenial spirit that a lot of Gen Z have. For example, Levi Jeans actively campaign against the stigmatisation of HIV/AIDS throughout the whole supply chain of their jeans, and also the physical attributes the disease has on its workers, and its consumers. This is an important commitment from a brand, linking the interpersonal connections that brand has with its consumers, and adding raw and heartfelt emotion to a corporation really adds a human element to the brand. Think of brands that you buy as people you interact with. If you like what they stand for and what they say, their ideology and their concepts, then you’re going to want to surround yourself with them and see what they have to offer.
This lecture from The Future Laboratory has really inspired me to really think about the future marketing, branding, trend forecasting and analytical briefs that I will be working on, and to ensure they’re relevant and up to date with the current marketing trends that are occurring all over the globe. It’s made me even more passionate about the work that I do and the career that i’m going to envelop myself in, and I am just so glad to be able to analyse people, their behaviour and their fashion spending habits, as it’s a career that focuses on the discipline that I adore.
More information can be found at The Future Lab and all information comes from their lecture on ‘Backlash Culture’ – 03/10/16 – Courtesy of the enigmatic Maks and Peter.