WHY is Content Marketing important?

Content Marketing is the current “trend” in marketing. But while everyone believes that it is the way to go, most have only learned the “acts” but few have truly understood the “way”. Hence it is good to look into WHY Content Marketing came into prominence.

Psychological shifts in consumer mindsets

In trying to make sense of the psyche of our markets, academics like to create groups or segments to facilitate strategising our marketing plan accordingly. Granted that locality will also play a part, sociologists in America have broadly (using USA as the base) used Baby boomers, Gen-X, Gen-Y/Millennials and Gen-Z to describe different unique generations. It is believed that each generation of 30 to 40 years has its own mindset due to the different world events, social, political and environmental factors.

The Gen-Xers are dubbed the “latchkey generation”, experiencing reduced adult supervision due to a era of higher divorce rates and the introduction of “double income families”. Brand imagery that identified with this generation during their young adult years (1990s) includes MTV and CK-One; bleak, cynical, disaffected feel. The Black Monday of 1987 and recession in the early 1990s marks the entrance of this generation into the workforce. Hence, they were also coined as “Generation Me” by Psychologist Jean Twenge.

CK One advertisement

Source: The New York Times – “It smelled like Gen X Spirit”

The Millennials, on the other hand, grew up after global economies have picked up. This is also the period when technological advances are beginning to disrupt social behaviour. The Millennials, being quicker to adapt to the changes, are able to be “in-charge” whenever a tech gadget is involved. This fuelled the belief that they can change the world. The hit movie “Iron Man” is the best icon for this generation; with the right technology, anyone can be a superhero.

Aaron Levy of Raise The Bar Consulting touched on some of their differences in the marketplace in his article on “Why Millennials Really Are That Different“: “Where Baby Boomers are loyal to their companies and Generation X are more loyal to their careers, Millennials’ loyalty lies with their community. We see work as a calling instead of a job, or even a career. Although subtle, this distinction does change the expectations we have of our jobs. Millennials show up looking to make an impact, be part of a team and do meaningful work – work that makes a difference in the world.” He added that “We are asking at a younger age, ‘What do I want for myself and my life; what is my purpose?'”

While the Gen X young adults are definitely different from the Millennials young adults (across the different time periods), it is interesting to note that the differences are likely to be a “period effect” rather than a “cohort effect”, that is, the differences affect all age groups during a particular period. The past decade has also seen an increase in Gen Xers (who are possibly in mid-life crises?) looking for fulfilling jobs that can make a difference to society.

So what does this got to do with why content marketing is a trend?

“Consumers do not buy products.
They buy what the products can do for them.”

This psychological shift in consumer mindset (of seeking purpose and wanting to make an impact) has also extended to their choice of brands. In Nielsen’s 2015 annual Global Corporate Sustainability Report, it is found that globally, 73% of surveyed millennials are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand. Forbes added that “because advertising and marketing in the States appears to have reached a deafening roar in recent years, millennials also want companies to get serious about marketing in a socially responsible way.”

Consumers do not buy products. They buy what the products can do for them. Beyond the benefits attributed to the products, they want to know that they are contributing to making a difference in this world even through their spending. This makes them feel empowered.

What we see here is a shift in advertising emphasis. Brands now need to tell a story when they introduce their products. A brand story that evokes emotions. A brand story that can engage the consumers. A story that helps the brands establish the image of their corporate social responsibility. A brand story that the customers of this generation can relate and identify with. A typical 30 seconds TV commercial alone no longer cuts it. Hence the importance of the emphasis of “content” in marketing and the need to ensure a consistent narrative.