Eff-vertising?

Millward Brown just published a study that supports something we’ve been telling our clients for a few months now – consumers have never given so few fucks about your brand. In particular, the study suggests that Generation Z has seemingly been bred to be ad-resistant.

But even going back a couple years, SJ Insights found that on average, consumers engage with 12 brands a day. Seems like a lot, right? Until you realize that consumers are exposed to, on average, over 5,000 brands. Per day. And countless other brands are trying really hard and not even cracking that consideration set. Just think about that for a second. Brands are spending time, energy and money not even making it into the top 5,000.

Welcome to the new eff-conomy. Face it. Consumers only have so many fucks to give. If you’re just assuming that they’ve got a couple squirreled away for you and your brand, I’ve got some bad news. It’s never been harder to be a brand. As a marketer, you’ve never spent less. As consumers, they’ve never cared less. And I don’t mean just passively not giving a shit – I’m talking about actively not giving a shit by enabling ad blockers. The cost of eyes might be going down, but the cost of effs is definitely going up. So what’s a brand with shrinking resources and dwindling relevance to do?

First, you have to start getting comfortable with an inconvenient truth. It’s not about you. It will be. Eventually. Maybe. But not right now. Surviving in the effconomy starts with understanding the consumer. Really understanding them. Not their affinity for your brand or your competition. But their culture. What do they give a fuck about? We can’t just assume it’s your brand, or your products or the ads your making. So what do they care about? And I’m not talking about things like family or work or Beyoncé. I’m talking about the stuff they spend hours fighting about with strangers on reddit.

Knowing what your consumers give a fuck about is the easy part of cracking the effconomy code. The right data, analytics and research can paint you a pretty clear picture of where the effs are going. The hard bit is answering the question of what you are going to do about it. “Put it in an ad?” is not the answer I’m looking for here. At MRY we talk about it in terms of what a brand is capable of. How your brand makes a meaningful difference in the consumers’ experience of what they care about.

We’re inspired by brands like REI, who by opting out of Black Friday, showed they were capable of changing the culture around being together and being outside. And Dominos who seemingly overnight became a tech company capable of not only changing the way people ordered pizza, but how it got delivered. Or even Teen Vogue and Buzzfeed who have proved in recent weeks that they are capable of much more than just listicles and unicorn gifs and can have an impact on the political discourse of the United States and the world.

Consumers give a fuck about brands that are culturally relevant, create valuable experiences and challenge the way they currently do things.

So if you want to be one of those 12 brands she’s engaging with each day, stop focusing on what you want to say and start asking what your brand is capable of.

[Note: This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.]

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