When companies adopt Lifestyle Advertising they are best positioned to influence conversations around their brands, drive consumer purchasing behaviour, and monetise the customer relationships they seek, according to a new PricewaterhouseCoopers report.
The report, entitled 'How to Capitalise on Lifestyle Advertising in a Customer-Centric World', suggests that the most fundamental shift in the history of media usage is already upon us.
Real-time consumer dialogue
Michael D. Kelley, a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers, explained: "Today, consumer dialogue is happening in real time, with unprecedented speed and volume, with or without the willing participation of content providers, distributors, advertisers or their agencies. We are experiencing a technology-driven social renaissance that is creating unprecedented opportunities for the advertising industry to execute its core principles in powerful new ways."
The report defines Lifestyle Advertising as "advertising and messaging that allows advertisers to respond to consumer feedback in an ongoing and interactive way through a continuous dialogue".
What's in a lifestyle?
The technique embraces online discussion boards, chat rooms, blogs, user-review forums and social networks to gain greater insight into consumer preferences, interests and points of view. It also includes advertising that is personalised, participatory, and socially interactive and is built around dynamic, real-time conversations between companies and consumers.
The report says that, to fully capitalise on lifestyle advertising, advertisers must engage consumers in real-time conversations that are relevant and trustworthy, and as a result, gain insights into product positioning, customer service effectiveness and future company strategy.
Three key principles
According to PwC, the three key principles of lifestyle advertising are:
Advertisers have to understand the issues that are important to customers' lives and build strategies around them.
Converged media redefines engagement as it combines both brand-level and product-level interactions in the same consumer experience.
To successfully engender trust with the consumer, efforts must be genuine and transparent and companies must act on what they hear when listening to consumers.
"As advertisers begin to focus on building relevant, engaging, and trustworthy conversations, they necessarily will shift substantial investment from traditional advertising toward Lifestyle Advertising. This does not mean the demise of traditional television advertising or traditional newspaper publishers, but rather the emergence or evolution of traditional mediums toward Lifestyle Advertising," explained Deborah Bothun, US Entertainment & Media Advisory Practice Leader for PricewaterhouseCoopers. "So, to truly monetise today's evolving customer relationships, advertisers, content providers and distributors must mobilise, measure and unleash the power of consumer communities."
New approach needed
The lifestyle advertising approach will require new media strategies and significant organisational changes, driving companies to look at the demands of today's converged media environment. Specifically, companies must:
- Listen to the market
Companies along the advertising value chain must view their audiences not as a collection of consumers, or even as a portfolio of demographic profiles, but rather as individual customers.
- Change and respond
To maximize and monetise their lifestyle advertising potential, businesses must be open, have real-time flexibility and enable informed risk-taking. They must organise around the ongoing conversations in which they are participating.
- Evaluate efforts and influence
Forward-thinking companies, along with their measurement provider and agency partners, have an opportunity to pioneer new measurement standards, increase advertising spending accountability and lead the industry in investing in the technologies and processes that will better gauge the effectiveness of advertising in this era of converged media.
Consumer audiences now have the ability to talk directly to companies as well as about them. Having gained the power of a worldwide forum, consumers can very publicly impact brands, products and services. They can skip, ignore or avoid whatever they do not wish to view or engage. This new consumer empowerment can dramatically affect the programming and media distribution channels that rely on advertising support.
The report has been made available for download from the PricewaterhouseCoopers web site - click here (in the Publications section).