The future of brands is 'four dimensional'
Brands need to build fully immersive experiences if they are going to futureproof themselves against a new wave of consumer, the founder of e-commerce platform Not On The High Street said this week.
"People want to get to know a brand like they get to know a person," Holly Tucker, MBE, said at MAD//Picnic, as she called for brands to become "four dimensional".
"[Consumers] want to know everything about brands - engage with them, converse with them, eat with them, listen with them, visit them, and know what the brand stands for. They want to get to know their circle and join a community of like-minded customers."
In 2014, Tucker launched Holly & Co. - a new business venture which doubles as both a coffee shop and a brand consultancy workshop specialising in early-stage creative businesses.
The brand also hosts a podcast and puts on regular events, while each month its café adopts a new theme to support different "missions", ranging from female empowerment to knitting.
According to Tucker, Holly & Co. is an example of how brands should be using immersive experiences to connect with consumers.
"Customers buy experiences, not products. People want to share with their friends what they did, not what they got," she said.
Brands also need to establish a "mission for the greater good", Tucker added, as "the brands of the future - the businesses that we'll care about and consume from - will be the ones with purpose."
"Consumers of the future will care as much for your brand's values as what they're buying. You need to stand for something, you need to have a strong point of view. Gone are the days of sitting on the fence."
However, the value of brand purpose remains an issue of contention in the advertising industry, and not all industry commentators agree with Tucker's view.
Writing in Campaign earlier this week, Andrew Tenzer, director of group insight at Reach Plc, called for an end to the advertising industry's "over-reliance on direct strategies like social virtue", which "exclude too many people".
"Marketing strategies driven by narrow moral foundations only serves to widen the cultural gap between brands and the people they seek to engage," he wrote.
"People are cognitive misers. In the real world, they simply couldn’t give a monkey’s about what a brand thinks or believes."