Research & Data 2 minutes, 53 second read Wez Eathorne, Research Director, Opinium
The second annual Most Connected Brand study, conducted by Opinium, has shown that connection is not the sole domain of an individual sector but a unique bond between the individual and the brand.
In its second year, the study reveals which brands are on their way up and which are on their way down.
Opinium hypothesised that a tech wave of Silicon Valley brands would dominate, or a purging of traditional high street brands would occur. Instead, we found that brands with momentum straddle entertainment services, FMCG and even the much-maligned retail sector.
Forging connections through emotion and dynamism
Just as diverse are the different ways that these movers and shakers are able to forge connections.
For example, Walkers achieves its connection via emotion, something marketing director Fernando Kahane recognises when explaining Walkers is “not in the business of crisps, we are in the business of enjoyment”.
For Netflix, the connection is charged with dynamism. The brand has revolutionised the way we consume entertainment, invested heavily in its own content and pervaded the public consciousness to the degree that it has entered the urban dictionary as a well-known euphemism.
ALDI’s strength is anchored in prominence and value, disrupting the category with its no frills approach, recognising there is satisfaction to be had in low prices.
Lego taps into the child in all of us but hasn’t relied on nostalgia alone – most recently investing in movies, video games, YouTube channels and even theme parks.
Generational differences driven by fundamental changes
When comparing the Most Connected Brand ranking by generation, there is a temptation to jump on lazy generational stereotypes. For example, that older consumers favour brands anchored in the past whereas younger consumers gravitate to the virtual world online.
However, this is far too simplistic; our study shows that the differences are driven by fundamental social, cultural and technological changes.
One of the most striking differences across the generations is the different meaning they attach to the word ‘brand’.
For the older generation, it represents the physical product you buy or the shop you buy it from, whereas for the younger generation it is the logo on your phone or the streaming provider that displays before your favourite show begins, something associated as much with experiences as purchases.
A global community
We discovered clear trends that get to the heart of the differences between the generations that point to wider differences in how they view the society we live in.
The rise of brand activism – younger consumers now expect and respect brands stepping into the debate on topical issues be they environment or political.
Greater exposure than ever to other cultures has raised the bar for British brands and even affected our tastes. This is evidenced by the collapse of traditional tea brands like PG and Tetley among the younger generation.
History and heritage continue to matter but only when harnessed alongside innovation and change. Disney is a great example, with the older generation growing up with Mickey Mouse and the younger generation now identifying with Marvel.
The pervasive force of tech
By far the most disruptive influence between the generations lies in technology. It has shifted how we communicate, illustrated by WhatsApp’s appeal to the young as well as how we shop, with bricks and mortar retailers like Next and Debenhams losing ground to online retailers such as ASOS.
What is clear is that to thrive, brands need to be immersed in the world around them, quickly recognising and adapting to changes in culture, politics and technology.