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Now Is the New Next

There’s an abundance of new realities to explore right now
  • April 16 2012

The advertising industry loves to obsess about trends that are just beyond our fingertips. During the past 10 years, the “Connected Home” has been in a tight race with both “The Year of Mobile” and “the emerging Hispanic population” as front-runners for frustrating “what’s next” discussions.

But 2012 is different because “now” is finally the new “next.”

There is no need to wait for some new trend to capture our imagination because there is an abundance of new realities to explore and exploit right now.


Now is the time for “trans-cultural” planning

The U.S. Census has revealed a range of dramatic and significant demographic shifts that impact virtually all marketers right now. For example:

  • Minority majority populations among kids under 15 now exist in 10 states
  • We are nearly at a 50/50 minority/white birth rate
  • Minority majority populations exist in over 25 percent of the largest metro areas
  • Multiracial couples are among the fastest growing demographic

There are also population shifts taking place, like the growth of the 50+ segment, that will affect our economy in significant ways. All of these new realities make trans-cultural planning more essential than ever, not merely to identify segments for “extra emphasis” or “tailored creative,” but to truly consider how brands can thrive in this new cultural landscape.

Trans-cultural planning considers ethnographic insights across demographics and life stages. Teens tend to be the most melded trans-culture given their diversity. But, they are not alone. Moms are now a more connected trans-cultural segment, exchanging experiences that are not limited to local clubs. And there’s a growing retirement trans-culture where relocation can spark integration.


Now is also the time for full throttle, “trans-media” planning

It took Twitter more than three years to reach a billion “conversations.” Twitter now hits that level every three days, largely because other media, especially good old-fashioned TV, are sparking “twittersations.” And the list goes on. Smartphones with Web access are at critical mass, with 50+ percent penetration and growing. Tablets are reinvigorating the publishing industry.

There is no need to be obsessed with something next, like guessing when 3D TV penetration will hit 10 percent. The media landscape is now flush with opportunities to better engage audiences of all demographics, cultures and behaviors. This requires a new trans-media planning mentality across paid, earned, owned and shared media to make consumer relationships more exciting and enduring.

So if now is the new next, what do we do differently?

Think society vs. merely category: Brands have more opportunity to be cultural authorities and create a larger place in society, not merely their marketing category. It requires thinking like publishers of enriching content and not to be limited to the past boundaries of traditional advertising.

Market in real-time vs. ad-time: I was impressed by how quickly Tide leveraged Twitter during the Daytona 500 when the brand was used to help put out a crash fire. Brands and their agencies need to be organized to be part of the conversation whenever it may happen. This means the annual plan is now the framework to anticipate daily activation opportunities.

Create value vs. being viral: Any strategy that leads with a desire to be viral is probably going to miss the mark. The value exchange is not confined to the brand’s pricing strategy. It can include advice, reviews, demonstrations, VIP content access, connections to experts, and more. Armed with a compelling value exchange, those having the most creativity to express it will rise to the top.

Ultimately, if an idea starts with a differentiating and relevant consumer value exchange, good things will be shared.


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