Tag Archive for: trends

We’re just about to round the corner to a key consumer buying season: the fall. And about the only thing that’s certain is consumer uncertainty; but consumers aren’t giving up on conscious consumption. Nothing shows that more than the latest consumer trends from Google Searches. What do Google searches have to do with PR? Consumer media outlets keep a strong eye on consumer trends, and usually respond with seasonal content that matches the customer’s mood. Fitting into that season content is key to earning digitally savvy PR during the fall. There’s another important reason to get it right this fall: you’re likely to have a larger share of voice for any of your marketing efforts as some competitors will pull back, so if you’re not pulling back, or you’re jumping into the market now, it’s great timing because research shows that brands who stay with marketing during economic downturns, get ahead.

What does this mean for consumer brands?

It gives you insight into key themes you can use in your PR and marketing this year. While some of these facts seem contradictory, put these in context with what you’re seeing from your customers.

Searches for “specials this week” is up 60% year over year / Searches for “designer outlet” have grown 90% globally year over year

Keep in mind, that consumer spending remains strong, so this is about the consumer feeling the need to feel like they’re getting a deal. 31% of consumers say they are still rewarding themselves by buying things they want. Consumers haven’t stopped loving name brands, they’re just in need of a discount. They also want to feel their brand choices are premium choices.

Luxury and premium brands with strong brand affinity should lead to smaller, more affordable items for the masses, rather than discount the brand. Premium consumer brands can use this mindset with bonus gifts.

Align your brand with premium publishing outlets by getting an early start on your consumer PR and ad re-targeting. Have your programmatic and PR teams talk before they launch their respective campaigns.

Consumer brands should publish any kind of black Friday promotions well in advance, and use competitor pricing as a benchmark (25% less than a comparable brand), to anchor value.

Now is also the time to focus on loyalty for existing customers. Don’t make your customers search you out. Be there during the key buying triggers for your customers. If your customers tend to buy on Fridays, be there on Thursday with the bonus giveaway or loyalty reward.

Searches for “say no to plastic” have grown globally 200% year over year

Consumers want brands who want what they want. This new purpose-driven alignment applies to all consumer brands. Even if you can’t get around plastic packaging (yet), now is the time to celebrate your sustainability efforts. What’s comforting to consumers right now, more than anything is brands they can trust. So if you’ve been working hard on building consumer trust, now is the time for you to celebrate the efforts in a way that reinforces your consumer’s choices.

Consumers want personal content

87% of consumers said they want personal and relevant content. Keep this in mind with your email marketing and social media. Use your own data to ensure your delivering the right message to the right audience. Consumers want to see themselves in your content – by the way, editors know this trend too, so positioning your brand clearly allows editors to follow this content expectation too.

One of the most notable attributes of “relevant” content is content that is emotionally resonant. Your consumers want to know that you understand them. Note that during previous times of uncertainty, nostalgia and comfort messages surge. Very often, this means consumers would prefer to stay with their favored brands, but that favored brands need to continue to provide the experience customers have come to expect.

More than ever, having digitally savvy and data-informed PR, branding, and advertising will make a difference in your seasonal marketing. Now is the time to dig deep into your customer insights and give your agencies the information they need to supercharge their efforts this fall.

Cannabis PR is changing as fast as the cannabis industry is changing. Our 3 tips for cannabis brands to make news and engage journalists include incorporating larger consumer and cultural trends.

In order to secure earned media today, cannabis brands need to think competitively and creatively. In order to secure press coverage, tomorrow’s biggest cannabis brands need to think about larger cultural trends and what’s affecting society, the industry, and the media all at once. What’s more, out of chaos comes opportunity. Uncertainty makes consumers ask big personal questions – and this can be an opportune time to key into changing priorities. People questioning their priorities in light of the pandemic are a heterogeneous group, they don’t belong to any one demographic or generation.

[4 minute read]

Purpose vs. Activism in Cannabis

For consumers in a state of change, Accenture found that buying motivations have shifted. Trust & Reputation ranked over Ease and Convenience and product Origin. 66% said they now expect brands to take more responsibility in motivating them to live by their values and to make them feel more relevant in the world, according to the same Accenture report.

Cannabis has a long history with activism; it’s part of the culture. As the cannabis industry has grown, so have the causes. As a cannabis PR firm, we will never discourage our clients from activism or supporting causes.

If your customers are within the cannabis industry, you’re a B2B cannabis company, then there are some really interesting and important causes, including sobriety, equity, and racial justice to engage in to support the growth, maturity, and reputation of the cannabis industry. Some activist movements within cannabis have failed to catch fire outside the cannabis industry. While many of these initiatives are extremely worthy, few of them have caught on with the broader consumer base. And that’s OK because there are long-term advantages for the industry, but they may or may not be media-worthy.

However, if you’re looking to secure press with your brand activism, or you’re looking to engage your customer through purpose, then it’s time to think creatively about the campaigns. Look deeply at the activist causes you invest in, because consumers today expect brands to engage based on corporate values, which means the brand has to live it’s purpose, not just promote its purpose.

Cannabis consumers today are hardly a niche. Consumer cannabis brands need to think globally and be able to act consistently in order to activate on purpose. Consider these 3 tips to maximize earned media in 2022.

 

Products vs. Experience

A large post-pandemic trend continues to be consumers, particularly younger consumers, craving experiences over products. Cannabis brands should be looking at newsworthy activations that include experiences. While there are limitations for cannabis brands, this is a time to be creative in the ways you engage the press for launches and activations. Simply launching a cannabis product these days isn’t newsworthy. Attaching a celebrity is less newsworthy today than it was 2 years ago, especially as celebrities launch their own cannabis brands. In order for the press to pick up on it, there needs to be a newsworthy story.

Also, be thinking about what markets have the most journalists and editors. Creating an activation in Kansas might make local news in Kansas, but it’s unlikely to inspire NY or CA journalists. Another option is to do activations within other events, be they cannabis trade shows or cannabis-friendly consumer events or even outstanding activations around big events that get covered in the press. It’s really time to be creative.

 

Collab Outside of Cannabis

How can your brand collab with brands outside of cannabis?

There is still media appetite for interesting collabs. The recent Bic Lighters campaign with Snoop and Martha Stewart was a brilliant example of collaboration outside of cannabis. Extremely well thought out and ongoing, it’s successful because it’s cheeky, memorable, and creative. For most cannabis brands the collaboration could include an experience (like a fashion show) or they can include a purpose (environmental, for example), or they could include a special product.

The key to choosing collabs is to think way in advance and activate in a 360 way – don’t start thinking about a 420 collab in February. Major brands and outlets plan these kinds of activations way in advance, but thinking ahead will generate significant advantages.

 

2022 promises a great deal of exciting cannabis industry products and news, but in order to cut through the noise, cannabis brands need to think about what makes news, what engages journalists, and where they can make an impact on culture.

 

[4 minute read time] Today’s CMOs are constantly scanning the news and social networks for the latest trends and cultural shifts. For emerging brands, cultural trends and shifts couldn’t be more important. But even the savviest of CMOs needs to put these separate trends into a broader cultural context in order to put them to use. Enter TrendHunter, their annual Trend Report is a must-read for PR firms, CMO’s, Product Managers, and Innovators. Guess who else watches these massive cultural trends? The media.

As a PR firm that specializes in emerging brands and emerging industries, we’re extremely fortunate to be working with brands already leading the charge on many of the trends and cultural shifts that the latest TrendHunter report documents in its 200+ pages. A few cultural trends caught our eye and thought they were worth digging into on a deeper level for our community of CMOs and media.

3 Massive Cultural Trends for Emerging Brands

Magic Mushrooms

Over the last 6 years, we’ve noticed an increasing demand for mushroom-based functional foods. The wonders of the mushroom knows no bounds. Nowhere is this more true than in the expansion of psychedelic mushrooms. As researchers fast track the science behind therapeutic benefits of psychedelics, global businesses in Brazil, The British Virgin Islands, and the Netherlands, benefiting from legal loopholes are launching brands and experiences that include psilocybin (the compound that creates psychedelic mushrooms). In the US, like cannabis-based THC, psilocybin remains federally illegal, but the local movement to decriminalize the psychoactive ingredient in mushrooms has already begun in Denver, Oakland, and Santa Cruz (as of this writing). Emerging businesses and innovators see psilocybin following the same path of cannabis, but moving considerably faster towards legalization.

Audio Only

Most marketing executives could not ignore the breakthrough app of 2020: Clubhouse. Clubhouse may or may not have peaked already, and everyone’s listening to see what’s next. Interestingly, the pandemic surge on ClubHouse came just as marketers were wondering whether podcasts, famously popular with commuters and gym rats, would remain relevant. But podcasts survived, and some would say even thrived.

Apps like Calm, which uses sound to ease tension also surged during the pandemic. Music lovers know the secret to these apps: listening to sounds has a measurable effect on mood and dopamine regulation. Could it be true? Are audio-only meetings more memorable than video meetings? Twitter is betting on it with its pandemic feature: ‘Spaces.’ Emerging from the pandemic, the sound will be part of every experiential memory and brands will be looking to research to determine how their sound logos impact people’s moods much the way the we investigate how color impacts mood for graphic logos. We’re launching the ability to LISTEN to our blog posts starting with this very post.

 

Inclusion

Brands Celebrate Inclusivity

Gillette Skinclusive Line

Inclusion is no longer a buzzword, it is now part of our day-to-day awareness.  This year, Gillette Venus’ Skinclusive line launch with a summer line, “My Skin, My Way” on video game Animal Crossing. But inclusive skin is in, and so it differently abled bodies with this launch. In-game inclusivity mirrors our greater awareness of how our differences can be beautiful. We’re seeing inclusion happening in apps like Chapters: Interactive Stories, where users can create an avatar that reflects their ethnicity as well. Expect to see this in-game inclusivity mirror: gender inclusion and political points of view as well.

Brand Purpose

Bonus round: brand purpose. From sustainability to social good, TrendHunters covered the trend we’ve been seeing for several years: brand purpose. The best brands in the world are already ahead of the game on this, but it’s also trickling down to emerging industries and smaller brands and that’s because tomorrow’s most influential buyers care very much about where their products come from and what the social, political, and environmental costs of the brand are.

 

All of these trends have massive PR, product, and marketing implications. More and more, our clients are bringing us in at the beginning stages of ideation, to ensure not only do campaigns hit newsworthy notes, they also keep them out of hot water, which is a moving target these days. But our team, hand-picked for emotional intelligence, are here to help you see emerging trends all around.

 

Thanks for joining us today!

It’s no secret consumer behaviors experienced a major shift during the pandemic. Marketers and communicators have been watching closely to see how these changes would affect the post-pandemic world. For Team Avaans, we have our eyes on how these post-pandemic consumer shifts will particularly impact emerging industries like drones, cannabis, and online immersive experiences.

Post-Pandemic Shopping Habits Reflect Online Changes

The latest Harris Poll provides some great insight into what consumers think they will do. 

It’s actually not much of a surprise that consumers see themselves as online shoppers at new levels. What’s actually more surprising to me at least, is the number of people who say they will shop at a department store or mall. Honestly, I think retailers can grab onto this and combine it with a bit of nostalgia to make the shopping more of an experience, which is what I believe consumers are craving. I also think consumers are craving any experience outside the home, so retailers will need to see themselves as curators of the experiential if they’re to stay top of mind for consumers as the re-opening of America really takes hold later this summer.

In-person retailers and entertainment venues will have safety concerns to contend with as well. People want to go back to being with others, they just don’t want to feel unsafe doing it and they will expect buildings and venues and businesses to take the lead on protecting them moving forward. Expect to see investments in air purification and upgraded surface sanitation as among consumer expectations.

Harris Poll Results: Pandemic Driven Changes in Shopping Behavior

Image courtesy Harris Poll, March 2021

 

Post-Pandemic Consumer Shifts for Emerging Industries

I also believe that these numbers will impact emerging industries even more and here’s why: consumers in the nascent stages of establishing buying patterns have less nostalgia and fewer habits, so those formed in the early stages will stick around longer. For industries with direct retail exposure, like cannabis, this will be incredibly impactful.

Consumer Shifts for Cannabis

Specifically, in cannabis, which benefitted from the “essential business” designation in many states, this will be a time of great opportunity but also change. Cannabis consumers most definitely took advantage of curbside pickup and delivery options during the pandemic. But cannabis is a social drug, and as users are reconnecting with old friends, they’ll likely merge old patterns with new and start expecting a more “on-demand” version of cannabis delivery, more closely mirroring food delivery.

Consumer Shifts for Online Immersive Experiences

We’re also seeing another emerging industry: online experiences. These could be games like online escape rooms, platforms like Oculus, or immersive publishing. While many of these businesses took hold during the pandemic for obvious reasons, what these numbers suggest to me is consumers now see the online experience as integrated with their offline experience in a more holistic way; the lines are blurring and consumers, especially under 50, accept that.  I believe online entertainment expansion will absolutely increase in the next year. I also believe the summer months won’t be the most extraordinary for these businesses, but as the days grow shorter in the fall and we collectively return to inside the home, we will look for ways to escape and online immersive experiences will be ready to transport us.

Consumer Shifts for the Drone Industry

The re-opening of America will also remind consumers of privacy concerns in a way they haven’t thought about in a while.  During the pandemic, many mysterious drone sightings caused local concern, but the news never sunk into the national consciousness because of the overwhelming pandemic and election news. Consumer acceptance of big-ticket online purchases and drone curiosity, along with the ability to be together again, will all benefit drones. But overall, the drone industry would be wise to stay fully attuned to consumer shifts in privacy, particularly in rural areas where drone flying is subject to fewer regulations, but where the culture is very attuned to privacy concerns.

These are a few of the trends we’re watching as post-pandemic consumer shifts continue to emerge. As you’re planning for the rest of 2021 and into 2022, if you’d like to review your assumptions or internal research, reach out to us, we’re watching industries from many angles and incorporating insights from multiple sources.

Other Resources and Insights
5 PR Trends CMOs Need to Watch in 2021

How 3 Players in the Drone Industry are Shifting Public Opinion

The 3 Most Surprising PR Insights from the Eaze Cannabis Report

[3 minute reading time]
For cannabis brands, 2020 was an eye-opener. This week Eaze released their year in review for cannabis 2020 that offers PR insights for cannabis brands. As a delivery service, Eaze can pick up on some fascinating stats from a year that was (hopefully) like none other. Unsurprisingly to those in the industry, high anxiety levels fueled cannabis consumption to new heights in 2020; order volume was up by 15% on the Eaze platform even though dispensaries are considered essential businesses in many states, including California, which is 2X the combined size of the four states (AZ, JN, MT, MD) that legalized in 2020. The question is always “will this be the same or better in 2021?” While stats from years past are always fascinating, especially if they are an anomaly, when we looked at it, we see important PR insights from the Eaze Cannabis Report.

 

#1 Vapes Held Their Own Across All Ages

Even after the 2019 vape crisis, cannabis users continued to choose vapes consistently. While edibles were the #1 category of 2020, for GenZ they remained first choice. Apparently, GenZ isn’t concerned in the slightest about the vapes and continues to trust that cannabis brands will continue to earn their trust. Vapes were second only to edibles for Millenials and GenX. These two generations are very familiar with vapes, so there’s no surprise there and plenty of vape brands squarely target these demographics.

Boomers also chose vapes, they came third behind edibles and flower. Perhaps because of the covid-lung concerns, Boomer vape purchases declined in 2020, but vapes still outperformed topicals and prerolls for Boomers, which is fascinating given their appeal to the age group. The fact that Boomers choose flower second only to edibles isn’t much of a surprise considering the nostalgia that flower holds for that generation. If you’re a flower company, that’s definitely something to tap into in your cannabis public relations, branding, and advertising. PR Insights from the Eaze Cannabis Report offer cannabis brands important opportunities for 2021 too.

 

#2 Purpose Driven Cannabis Brands See Big Gains

Within cannabis, the number #1 purpose-driven theme is social equity, which has been important since legalization started. 2020 heightened social equity awareness for all consumers and cannabis buyers especially responded. According to Eaze, 9.5% of all customers bought social equity brands. What’s surprising in the cannabis stats for cannabis brands is customers over 30 were more likely purchase from social equity brands than younger customers. Men, in particular, were more likely to buy from social equity brands than women. These two statistics are surprising because they aren’t consistent with typical purpose-driven brand buyers   which typically skew female and younger.

 

#3 420 NOT the Biggest Cannabis Holiday in 2020

Green Wednesday, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving topped the purchase charts in 2020, up from second place in 2019. What’s also interesting is the other big seller nights: last night of Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve. None of these last 4 “cannabis holidays even broke into the top 5 in 2019, so their appearance provides overlooked cannabis public relations and advertising opportunities in 2021. Be on the lookout for other lifestyle holidays your customers might pair with cannabis because 2021 will continue to be disruptive in terms of large-scale events and large gatherings which typically dominated big sales days outside of 420 in previous years. The 2020 cannabis brand insights report by Eaze lists some outstanding examples of big sales days driven by current events or lifestyle.

Overall, like others, we expect 2021 to be a very good year for cannabis sales, but since consumer habits are changing, it will be ever more important for cannabis brands to watch their own data closely so they can engage and expect their customers’ next move.

The Eaze 2020 State of Cannabis Report

 

This article originally appeared on our sister site Primo PR

5 PR Trends CMOs Need to Watch for 2022

[6 minute reading time]
There’s no shortage of uncertainty in marketing and PR planning for 2021. But there are some trends happening that are sure to impact PR and Marketing in 2021. At Avaans PR, CMO’s love us because we know consumer trends impact where our target audience will be, the frame of mind they’ll be in and what journalists will write about.  On a tactical level, trends impact our content creation, journalist relationships, and campaign recommendations we’re making now and in the next year. We’re ready for 2021 to require agility, but we’ve found that even agility requires forward-looking and yes, some planning. These are 5 of the marketing and PR trends for 2021 we’re watching on behalf of our consumer-forward brands.

PR Trend #1: Techlash Continues

From a PR trend perspective, this has a tremendous impact. Now is the time to reimagine how you’ll use social and digital media in 2022, from both a marketing and PR perspective.

The sting of social media won’t soon to be forgotten by consumers, regardless of political affiliation. During 2020, in particular, during the pandemic, social media took on outsized importance, but also affected consumers in new ways, and not all of them positive.

Yes, consumers continue to spend time and even buy on social media, but they are spending more and more time in micro-groups of their own on platforms like Slack or Messenger, or in like-minded platforms. This means brands will have to be extremely smart about their placements and presence in 2021. The separation also requires brands to be exceptionally clear about who their customers really are.

Further, the coveted 25-55 college-educated, earning $100,000 or more per year are using social media for customer service. This coveted group will not support companies who don’t support customer care. If 2020 was the year of pandemic-related customer acquisition for your brand, 2021 will most definitely need to be about keeping them happy and engaged. Part of that will most definitely be a branding effort to existing customers, ensuring your values align with theirs (more on purpose-driven initiatives below).

But it’s not just customer service affecting social media in 2021.  e-Marketer reported:

We have increased our forecast on mobile messaging and now believe time spent by US adults will grow by 4 minutes in 2020, to 24 minutes per day, not only due to the pandemic but also data showing strong engagement on messaging services like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Apple iMessage.

 

PR Trend #2: Work With Media in New Ways

Whether it’s TV, programmatic, or print, all media outlets are bracing for reduced advertising revenue in 2021. This will have very real implications for public relations initiatives.

First, according to Edelman, trust in media actually increased in 2020. This means you should absolutely be leveraging the trust of other outlets, particularly in lieu of the distrust around social media. However, you should do so with earned media and branded content.

Expect to see more “branded content,” in 2021. Well done branded content can be very effective in both PR and branding, so consider these options carefully. Branded content is better received than traditional ads, in fact, Second Street Lab reported in June that branded content through premium publishers sees a 50% brand lift.

Further, outlets will need to keep eyeballs on their content, to help drive ad revenue, brands with media relations campaigns should be looking at ways to support outlets who support them. At Avaans PR we are actively doing this for our clients already and seeing great brand lift and also enhanced journalist relations.

 

PR Trend #3: Purpose-Driven Buyers

Trusted brands saw huge increases during the pandemic, up to 50% growth, according to McKinsey. This is due to an unprecedented shift in brand loyalty during the pandemic.

Even pre-pandemic, affinity for brands who take a stand and align with consumer’s values were seeing real ROI on purpose-driven initiatives. As Americans slog through the pandemic, they are consistently re-evaluating priorities, this is especially true for Millenials and GenZ.

PR trends for 2021, include self-love and body positivity will be a purpose for many buyers, especially those who emerge from isolation hibernation with a few extra pounds. GenZ is feeling stressed. While some are still below the age of 18, they remember the great recession. Right now, self-care and home comfort are top of their list. Pre-pandemic, GenZ was actually returning to malls, but the pandemic has left this generation feeling a bit powerless and reconsidering purchasing behavior, at least for now. But 51% of GenZ’ers say they will return to in-store shopping. But when GenZ returns to stores, according to Retail Dive, they’ll do so with the expectation of safety and a frictionless environment that mirrors the ease of online shopping.   GenZ is also moving towards “thoughtful consumption,” especially those brands with responsible sourcing, environmentally friendly policies or support social issues. Local businesses and minority-owned businesses are also on their radar in a whole new way.

As for Millenials, the eldest of whom are in their 40’s already, are leading the way, followed by the often forgotten GenX, to continue online shopping across almost all verticals from essentials to alcohol, according to McKinsey.

Plus, record low-interest rates have created a whole host of new home buyers. In September 2020, 60% of U.S. homebuyers were Millenials, they’re likely to spend an increasing amount of time at home, items that allow them to spend more quality time with friends and family will be attractive, so delivery and home-based products will take a new focus for that generation.

PR Trend #5: The New Corporation

The media loves cultural changes and the radical changes to corporate America as a result of the COVID pandemic are monumental. From new work structures resulting from work from home to updated DEI hiring practices, diverse executives, and the great resignation, the media is covering companies through a very different lens today.

Technology is a considerable sub-topic here. If your brand is using technology or inventing technology to address these radical changes, there are considerable thought leadership opportunities for you.

From a spokesperson perspective, the media is also being more proactive about gathering a multitude of diverse perspectives on almost any topic. If you’re hiring corporate spokespersons or brand representatives, be clear on your objectives, and your audience. Not all spokespersons are useful in PR, and that doesn’t mean they aren’t perfectly good spokespersons for things like ads or social media, but they might not get a lot of lift in PR.

Trust is no longer a trend – it’s an imperative. From a public relations standpoint, you’ll want to be thinking about how your brand will differentiate itself in the media and marketing activities. With trust and security taking new precedence, brands will need to think about how they will reinforce those messages in a brand-consistent way.  Now is the time to explore partnerships and the potential activations, which will create the memorable moments consumers are craving.

From tourism to retail to direct-to-consumer products, brands will need to be thinking about how they will be relevant at the right moment.

From content to media relations to events, now is the time to plan, but bake in flexibility. For example, secure your video producers now, and create three original scripts, secure the time and the talent now, so you can move faster than everyone else when the moment is right.

PR Trend #5: Cross Collaboration

This is the year where everything needs alignment. If you haven’t already, tear down the silos between PR, Marketing, and Branding. Get those people together now so they can be more effective together in 2022. Think about how each department can align on digital and in-person initiatives. Think about initiatives that are word-of-mouth worthy, there will be plenty of industry and even national coverage for brands that are thoughtful about how they align.

A unified, personal experience will be an expectation in 2021. So ensure your messaging, your purpose, and your plans are operating together, not just in tandem, but together.

Use your owned, earned, and paid media together in new ways and your brand can benefit from the realignment of brand loyalty happening right now.

 

If you’re ready to use these and other marketing & PR trends for 2021 in a more customized way, let’s talk. 

This article has been updated