Engaging Today’s Savvy Consumers: Brands Innovate for Connection and Growth

“The customer is always right” has been a saying since the dawn of retail. Fast-forward to now, and businesses are leaning into algorithms that help consumers find what they want—whether it’s the best deals on jeans, artists who should be on their radar and shows to stream.

The challenge: marketing the services and offerings that consumers want in a genuine, helpful way. An ADWEEK House Group Chat at Cannes including Julia Goldin, chief product and marketing officer at The Lego Group; Andréa Mallard, chief marketing and communications officer at Pinterest; and Michael Guth, svp of marketing and CMO at Spectrum Reach, discussed consumer trends and the best practices to reach your audience.

Constant choice, constant options

In a world of endless choices, the group talked about staying true to a brand’s mission and purpose rather than trying to be “everything to everyone.”

“I need to understand the consumer in a very deep way,” said Mallard. When discussing Pinterest, the executive shared how at one point there was an initiative to keep up with other platforms’ content. “I have to credit the founding team that was very steadfast and said, ‘That’s not who we are,” she continued. Sometimes, the best solution for your consumers’ needs is keeping it simple and just providing them a space to maneuver and do what works best for them.

Breaking through cynicism

Gen Z is the target audience everyone is trying to reach and understand. Younger consumers can read right through posts, products and missions that aren’t truly adhering to sustainability, DEI and other causes.

“There’s an expectation that they can participate significantly more in influencing how products are created and how they serve them,” said Goldin. She went on to highlight how Gen Z wants to be part of the conversation and is very creative thanks to social platforms like TikTok and Instagram.

To gain trust with Gen Z, brands must express their mission clearly and regularly, not just during holidays or times of crisis, the group discussed.

Community is key

No one wants to be seen as just a transaction; they want to feel like they’re part of something bigger and involved in a company’s choices. For example, brands can participate in social listening, polls and other interactive activities to get consumers’ feedback on a collaboration or product launch.

“You cannot be a local market expert unless you understand your community,” said Guth. Guth highlighted Spectrum’s Pay It Forward initiative, which trains underserved businesses on key skills. Brands that provide resources to consumers beyond a transaction become known for that within their communities, he said.


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