Megatrends & Countertrends in Brand Positioning

Advertising Marketing International Network (AMIN). It was fascinating to understand that the fundamentals of communication are so universal but that the nuances of each country or culture require a local perspective. Principals of agencies from all over the world talked about the same issues such as the rapid evolution of the digital space, the commoditization of our practice by procurement professionals, and the increasing importance of content and positioning.

One of the guest speakers at the conference was Dr. David Bossart from the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute. He shared an interesting perspective on trends in human behavior that impact our clients and the campaigns that we create. Much of his speech focused on the impact of digital, from the incredible amount of data and content that is created each day to the replacement of personal interaction with the overuse of smart devices that have become our closest friend and confidant.

One of the most interesting points he made had to do with megatrends and how brands and marketers should consider the rising countertrends that are created as a reaction. For instance, one current megatrend is complexity; we see that every day with new technology, even new cars or healthcare. The countertrend that has developed is simplicity. Consider the fastest growing cloud computing start-up called Box. In this complex, highly technical category with competitors like IBM, Amazon and Microsoft, Box has managed to position itself as a simple, easy-to-use cloud storage provider for everyone, and in so doing, they are eating everyone’s lunch.

Another trend Dr. Bossart discussed was globalization and the countertrend of localization. This trend is very evident in Indianapolis, which used to be a city that only had chain restaurants and other establishments. Now, Indy enjoys the countertrend eateries like BlueBeard, Black Market and Late Harvest, as well as non-chain establishments like The Alexander Hotel with its unique, art-focused design and local Indianapolis heritage woven throughout the hotel in its name and mixology bar Plat 99.

Current Megatrends and Countertrends

  • Complexity – Simplicity
  • Science – Romance
  • Urbanization – Rurality
  • Demographic growth – Shrinking population
  • Globalization – Localization
  • Digitization – Handcrafted
  • Convenience – Authenticity
  • Nomadism – Sedentariness
  • Individualism – Tribalization
  • Efficiency – Resilience

In this complex, cluttered media environment, marketers have to find a way for their brand to stand out from the competition and present a clear positioning and value proposition. Studying the current trends in your industry and identifying the possible countertrends is one method of finding a position that would allow your product or service to be noticed. At CVR, we tend to ask clients’ customers what they think and perceive to help identify the gaps and opportunities where their needs are not currently being met.

This is particularly critical to start ups, challenger brands and new product introductions. If your product or service is not first to market, consider positioning it using a countertrend. Apple was never the first to make anything – not the cell phone, music player or tablet. But they have been effective in making it better and not relying on current megatrends to develop products. As a result, they have changed the way we listen to music, what we expect from our phone, and how we interact with technology.

Many marketers are afraid of positioning their brand in the counter trend or as a niche product. They fear that the market opportunity is smaller for a niche player than for the larger mass audience. The reality is often very different from this perception. Niche brands often stand out from the competition and become game changers in their industry. If you want to discuss this topic further, feel free to drop me a line. I could talk about it all day.