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New Relevancies

New Relevancies

Brand marketing in digital, mobile era requires three new relevancies

Brands much achieve a deeper, emotional and cultural connection

Patrick Xu


WPP China and GroupM China


Over the past 20 years, China’s internet users have moved from the conventional internet era into the mobile internet era, driving a rapid transition towards digital, online and mobile technologies in many aspects of the lives of Chinese consumers, including shopping, socializing, entertainment, and work.

The rise of big data, cloud computing, the Internet of Things, virtual reality and augmented reality, as well as the implementation of cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence and iterative upgrades to hardware equipment, have been accompanied by a further shift towards digital technology and seamless connectivity in consumers' living environments, behavior, and even thoughts and emotions, erasing the boundary between the online and offline worlds.

For the foreseeable future, these trends will continue to drive dramatic changes in people’s perceptions of themselves, their interactions and their relationship with the world. This, in turn, will result in severe fragmentation and diversity of the channels through which people obtain information and content. All this is overturning and reshaping marketing paradigms and raises key questions: “How can we communicate effectively with consumers, and what other innovative methods can we use to improve the performance of marketing communication?”

These are two questions that marketers frequently ask. I would like to emphasize that the essence of marketing has not changed; what needs to change is people's thinking. It's not just about strategic thinking in marketing. It is about breaking down barriers between traditional departments and properly integrating internal and external resources to focus on the consumer experience and business development. No matter how complicated the marketing environment becomes, brands and marketers need to constantly focus on consumers, be sensitive to the drivers and directions of change, and use new technologies and capabilities to amplify the influence of media and content, in order to make them more personalized and refined.

The following “three relevancies” must be adhered to when formulating marketing plans:

  1. Brand/Product Relevance

In the last two years, many marketers have strived to achieve viral, eye-catching or "explosive" content. However, despite many creative ideas achieving significant but brief exposure, it is rare that people remember the brands or products themselves. How to use creative ideas to tell brand and product stories, enhance relevance, or imbue products with product and brand power, in order to create brand IP and build longer-term brand assets, are essential considerations for every marketer.

2. Audience Relevance

Consumer demand for consumption, products and brands are becoming refined and segmented to an even greater degree. Brands need to communicate precisely with different segmentation and ensure that the content of communications is “relevant” to the audience, feels fresh and experiential, and triggers emotional resonances and cultural identification. Brands can also provide audiences with platforms to express themselves and communicate with others, further increasing their relevance.

3. Social/Cultural Relevance

Marketing today is no longer about simply presenting features; it must reflect cultural or emotional values. By conveying aspirational and progressive values, brand marketing can generate greater social influence, not only giving it greater commercial value, but also creating social value.