In an era where social media allows us to carefully curate our own life story into a glossy trajectory of our choosing, the rise in individualism among millennials, and the subsequent ‘Generation Z’, is showing no signs of slowing down.
It can, of course, be traced back to the early days where we pored over our MySpace and Bebo profiles for hours, making sure it was the exact reflection of ourselves we wanted others to perceive. Our MSN bios would change daily to show what music we were listening to, which friends we were with, which classmates we were dating. All of a sudden, autobiography was no longer a concept reserved only for people whose lives had taken a turn off the beaten track; it was for everyone.
This burgeoning infatuation with telling our own stories is something brands are cottoning on to, and with good reason. We’re no longer happy to be nameless, faceless consumers. Nowadays, the individual reigns supreme, and just as we’re playing the starring role in our own stories, we want to be the starring role in yours, too.
Coca-Cola is a prime example. Beginning in Australia in 2011, the brand launched its ‘Share a Coke’ campaign and, just like that, people from all over the globe could walk into a shop and pick up a bottle of Coke with their name on it. As gimmicky and transient as it might sound, it did the trick. Between August 2012 and August 2013, the brand saw a year-on-year sales increase of 4.93%, according to IRI World Data.
Customer sentiment changed too, with a marked shift in the way Coca-Cola is perceived. Its YouGov score (a way of monitoring impression, quality, value, reputation, satisfaction, and recommendation) rose from 9.6 to 12.5 per cent on the day of the campaign’s launch.
Of course, social media played a crucial role, with the campaign receiving more than 235,000 tweets from 111,000 fans using the #ShareaCoke hashtag.
Lucie Austin, then marketing director of Coca-Cola South Pacific, described the campaign as having “capitalised on the global trend of self-expression and sharing, but in an emotional way.”
And others are following suit. Take Spotify, YouTube, Netflix. More and more, brands are going to great lengths to ensure we are presented with content that is specific to us; that puts the consumer right at centre-stage of their very own story.
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