An Age-Old Conundrum: Trend vs. Truth

Recently, the subject of empathy has been on my mind. As brands and retailers work to establish long-lasting connections with consumers and shoppers, empathy seems to be falling by the wayside. While that might sound like a harsh blanket statement, the fact is that, lately, businesses favor innovation and chasing trends more so than creating meaningful pieces of content that spark an emotional connection.

Think back to P&G’s powerful “Thank You, Mom” or Dove’s “Real Beauty” ad campaign. Why were these so successful? Because both of these campaigns were compelling and influential pieces of storytelling. To this day, they spark an immediate emotional response. As marketers, we spend so much time talking about the power of the human connection, yet even the way we talk about it seems to be devoid of basic human language—for example, “targets, users, and consumers.”

At the same time, brands continue to place an unprecedented amount of emphasis on the “me-first” approach. Instead, the question we should be asking ourselves is when we create a new Snapchat filter or piece of Instagram content or an emoji keyboard, is it laddering back up to a more meaningful story? Or is the social content just shouting at consumers and shoppers? While marketers chase various fads and trends, it sometimes comes at the detriment of viewing these tactics as a springboard for a more impactful and authentic connection. Of course, the two aren’t mutually exclusive; we need to maintain a precious balance between the two.

So, how do we combat this notion? First and foremost, we need to reprioritize the human connection and then let the other tactics stream out from that point.

After all, like any good relationship, it needs to be nurtured.