Using trends in marketingBefore we get started, we have released an introductory video (Week 4, Paradigm Summer School of Marketing) on what a trend actually is, so if you’re unsure, we would definitely recommend watching this first. In this video, we define a trend as something that is popular at a certain point in time that people want to be involved in. These can be short-term (micro) and long-term (macro) trends. Anything new can be a trend, from a new social media platform to a meme.
In recent years, it’s become increasingly important to customers that the businesses they interact with share the same values to make a positive change – these can be social, political, economic or environmental changes – which is a phenomenon known as brand activism.
When brand activism is genuine, your business values and actions align with your messaging. For example, you want to be eco-friendly, so you take action to make your business eco-friendly and advertise this. However, what happens if you advertise you are eco-friendly without actually making any changes to become more eco-friendly? This is a phenomenon known as “woke washing”.
Woke washing is the complete opposite to brand activism and can simply be defined as pretending to care about a social issue in the belief that it will increase your profit. We know that the vast majority of firms would never do this, but even being perceived as participating in something like this can cause significant reputational damage. This is why we recommend you tread carefully when it comes to adopting or being involved in trends, and take it slow.
Some examples of activities that, if genuine, can cause positive social change but may be seen as woke washing if your company does not live by the values are diversity and inclusion; gender equality; environmental issues; supporting the LGBTQ+ community and more.
To provide some clarity, we can use national days as an example. These can be a great way to gain some visibility on social media and advertise your company’s work ethic or working environment (you could have some fun with these). Some national days are really light-hearted, e.g. national pancake day or even national toilet paper day. There are, however, some national days with deeper meanings that are quite significant to certain people. This is where it’s really important to stop and think if it’s something you should get involved in. For example, “National Workaholics Day” might not be a good one to celebrate if you have actively promoted your business as having a really healthy work-life balance the week before, or even promoting “National Disability Day” when you have nothing in place for anyone with any disabilities or impairments. Do you see where we’re going with this?
Why should I even use these trends if this can happen?
Well, let’s go back to using eco-friendly as our example. As we mention in our introductory video, this is a macro trend which has shifted behaviour to become the “norm”. So much so that a report from Mambu stated that 72% of surveyed customers in the UK said they are more likely to go to a green financial services company compared to traditional banking services, and globally 60% said they would like every financial service they use to be sustainable, so it really is something to consider for your business, and also when creating your marketing strategies. This will be particularly relevant if you’re trying to reach new customers or target new groups.
As marketing has become more digitised in recent years, it’s only natural that everything becomes more accessible. It’s important not to feel like you’re falling behind or not doing enough compared to your competitors, because they have implemented something different in their marketing activity or are supporting a new cause/initiative. This is where it’s really important to stay true to your values in all of your marketing activities. Start small, and remember that whilst some customers might look out for these initiatives, you’ll lose more customers by being inauthentic and could cause reputational damage if you get caught out. We know we’ve said it before, but as firms are regulated by the FCA, it is absolutely crucial that all of your communication with customers and financial promotions including marketing activities are clear, fair and not misleading. At Paradigm, we understand how important it is to showcase your business to both your client bank and the general public, highlighting all of the services and support that you can offer in a compliant manner.
Our Technical Helpdesk team have been helping firms with their financial promotions since they launched in 2007 and can assist with your financial promotion procedures, as well as helping you to draft and issue compliant promotions designed for your target audience.
Examples of items we are asked to check include:
- Social media