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Review: Marketing in the Age of Resistance – HBR Article

Hello Maestros, Wats up? I was going through an interesting article. So thought about sharing some key points supplemented with my own thoughts. I read the article, titled ‘Marketing in the age of resistance’ by Christine Alemany.

Christine Alemany in her article, ‘Marketing in the age of resistance’, for HBR articulates that the customers have become more politically and socially aware. Hence it is not enough to provide merely a lip service to the stand they take in the social and political causes. There are issues worth taking a stand on, be it Racial Discrimination (Black lives matter), Gender Discrimination, LGBT rights, labor practices  and many others.

Companies and the brands should say what they mean and do what they say. For instance, in response to the corona virus pandemic Amazon released a commercial that thanked its employees and showed its commitment towards their health and safety. The ad touched the emotional chord but the recent employee’s strikes over workplace safety concerns confirm that the company was not walking the walk.

She reinforces the need for authenticity in marketing. The customers can sense the fake and shallow sentiments and shun the brand. According to some reports Companies that practice corporate social responsibility can attribute 40% of their public reputation to that CSR work. She provides 4 tips to help brands maintain the authenticity of their campaign.

First step beyond your company’s perspective: She suggests that marketing teams work in vacuum. They lose the touch with the external realities.  They should not hesitate to hire brains form outside. Probably they could be cautioned if they come up with something like Pepsi commercial titled “Jump In, which was produced by PepsiCo’s in-house content creation arm, Creators League Studio.

Second Listen, process and validate: Listen and don’t just listen, process the information that you receive and take actions. Don’t just say that Black lives matter but invest in the systems and processes that will bring equality for the black lives. The Reddit cofounder, Alexis Ohanian resigned from the Company’s Board, pledging his seat on the otherwise all white executive board to a black candidate.

Apologize without caveats or explanations: Sorry doesn’t come easy for anyone and if you are a big brand just forget about it. But sincere apology goes a long way.  Aaron Lazare, who wrote On Apology, divides successful apologies into four parts: acknowledgement, explanation, remorse and repair. Others say there are three components to a good apology: candor, remorse and change. We find brands often failing in making sincere apologies, be it Pepsi after the Kendal Jenner debacle or dove for their racially discriminating commercial. Brands can take a lesson or two on infusing creativity in to the brand’s apology from other brands who have successfully done that. They can take a leaf from the KFC’s FCK advertisement.

Finally do not make a one off statement: Apologies are not enough. What actions are you taking to make the wrong right? How are you taking this opportunity to educate yourself on the issue and grow? Don’t just make actionable statements, show some actions and make sure that you are transparent about it.

In the digital age where the information flows faster than light, brands can’t take things lightly. Moreover standing for the social and other causes provide opportunity for the brands to reinforce the brand equity. There are reports suggesting that more than 40% of the millennial consumers actively seek out organizations that are into sustainable practices in consumerism. Seventy five percent of millennials would take a pay cut to simply work in a responsible company.

When so much is at stake the organizations have to understand the seriousness of the situations and work more sincerely in making the mark for the more aware and the conscious customers.

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