A Changing Consumer and the Role of Content

Consumers now spend more time with media than ever before. But that time is fragmented, and now with a plethora of media choices available on-demand, consumers are becoming more selective about where they spend their time and are experts at avoiding advertising. In today’s media landscape, it is consumers who dictate reach and frequency. [1] They choose what they consume and largely engage only with content that is relevant, helpful and personal. The new mandate is that advertisers deliver content that warrants engagement.

Everyone is hungry to get into the content game. Major tech companies are in an arms race to gain content supremacy. YouTube is stepping up its original content to complement the 300 hours of content uploaded to the site each minute. Even brands are functioning like production houses, churning out more content than ever before.

It is no surprise that brands like Nike, Yeti and Airbnb are jumping on the content train. They are high-involvement lifestyle brands, and they have a surplus of relevant stories to share, each that can provide value to the consumer. But quality stories shouldn’t be reserved to big brands. Every brand has the opportunity to create content that provides value to the consumer, but it must begin with a focus on the consumer's habits and needs.

This thinking precipitated a change in the way we conduct our business here at Firehouse, even though some of our largest clients are in decidedly low-involvement categories. Auto batteries. HVAC. Categories where purchases are made begrudgingly and which consumers tend to think about only when they have to every few years.

Still, we decided to refocus our approach and processes to prioritize content first. That means a content strategy drives media planning and creative deliverables. Because we believe thinking content first is the best way to build strong brands…even brands where the immediate value of future interaction is not apparent. Brands have a new obligation today - to provide value at every interaction - no matter the category.

For Lennox, that looks like connecting with customers beyond product features. Some places, it means an unexpected emotional touch in their newsfeed. Other times it means a little extra knowledge to make their home comfortable. It also means helping the next generation of HVAC technicians get connected and surprising others with the all-important gift of warmth. It is an overarching strategy to bring the brand vision to life.

Across clients, this simultaneously small and seismic shift in thinking is going to allow us to tell better brand stories and to choose a collection of media tactics that best bring these stories to life.

We are living during the content explosion. The ubiquity of high-speed internet, the mass adoption of smart devices and the human penchant for stories has afforded this opportunity. The question for brands is, how will you use it? Will you interrupt consumers with stuff that they don’t really care about, or will you welcome consumers into beautiful stories and better experiences? We know which way we’re headed.

[1] Think with Google.