There was a time when advertising depicted a lifestyle that was largely aspirational. If you drove this car, you would be as handsome and capable as this male model we chose. Fast forward and brands are now finding that 'relatable' resonates better with customers than 'aspirational'.
Today, brands employ a more consumer-centred approach, where the person in the car looks like you or someone you know. It means you don't have to imagine yourself in the driver's seat, you're supposed to see yourself in the ad.
The real thing
Authenticity is key to this new paradigm, which is why influencer marketing is on the rise. Influencing works because it's consumer-centric: consumers choose to follow the influencer, marking them as someone they trust on a particular topic, someone who represents them. This makes it a highly effective way for brands to speak directly and authentically with a target audience, leveraging the influencer's existing reputation and relationships.
A recent demonstration of this power occurred when The Right Fit partnered with Carlotta Studios for Sydney's Biggest Photoshoot. Bringing together a strategically diverse selection of talent with 20 brands—including The Iconic, Grey Goose vodka, Lekker bikes and Sass and Bide—and photographers, videographers, stylists, hair and makeup artists, The Right Fit were able to create content from the one-day photoshoot that reached approximately 1.3 million people through participants' collective social media channels. The talent wasn’t limited to just models, but worked with profiles who connected to the same values of the brand in an authentic way, whether that’s because they had a genuine interest that helped reflect these values or perhaps held credibility within the same industry the brand fell into. Ultimately, what ever it may look like, there needs to be a genuine connection for audiences to respond and engage.
Even traditional media is focusing on “the real.” With Optus, for example, using real customers with real issues, it solves in its commercials.
Diversity in the spotlight
The quest for authenticity has also prompted a surge in demand for diversity. Advertising now features a wider range of age groups, ethnicities, shapes and sizes to capture more inclusive representation; once we had models and movie stars, now we have Paralympians and vloggers.
Part of the reason for this shift is that brands have better access to customer data, from tools that identify their target demographic and enables them to cast a match (e.g. a 45-year-old Eurasian man for Mercedes Benz) to feedback that lets consumers share their opinions publicly and therefore directly and indirectly have a say in what makes suitable talent for a campaign.
Social media has been at the forefront of this movement, with social and cultural shifts like the greater acceptance of minority groups - such as LGBTIQ+, plus size, culturally and linguistically diverse people - openly reflected across various channels and across a multitude of interests.
And with real-time feedback on social media and online in general, brands are taking a holistic approach to who they include in their advertising. Because customers have shared their thoughts and feelings about the lack of diverse representation in advertising and marketing, this vocal feedback has been a catalyst for change.
Consumers now control the success of campaigns and what they want to see is themselves. Brands need to listen to their market rather than tell their market what to think - the advertisers that are good at doing that will thrive.
The Right Fit founder and CEO, Taryn Williams