Friday, November 2, 2012

Digital Detox: How Brands are Helping Hyper-Connected Consumers Unplug

How can brands best connect with customers today? Try turning on the digital “off” switch. That’s right—as a chief brand strategist, help your hyper-connected consumers unplug from their frenetic online lives. Enter the digital detox. There is a growing worldwide trend in which consumers are moving away from being digitally hyper-connected, i.e., always being “on,” because they want better online/offline balance in their lives. Brands that can help consumers achieve this balance by seamlessly integrating opportunities to digitally detox will benefit by generating positive affect and loyalty toward their brands. As a Medill IMC graduate student at Northwestern University who interned this summer as a brand strategist at the renowned global communications group Havas Worldwide, I have firsthand experience in identifying consumer trends and using insights to shape advertising campaigns.

Digital Detox
Image source: Arbol

Surprisingly, 77% of consumers believe that time spent without gadgets and technology would help liberate them, improve their relationships and make them better people, according to A recent AdvertisingAge article by Emma Hall highlights brands that are harnessing the digital detox trend through campaigns that inspire consumers to spend more time offline, strengthening relationships. In commercials for McDonald’s Arabia by Leo Burnett Dubai, the brand stresses “family time forever” by eschewing emails and smartphones and deems Sept. 28 “a day offline.” Similarly, Chivas Regal’s “Here’s to Big Bear,” a short film by Havas Worldwide London, tells the story of a loss of cellular and WiFi reception at a secluded train station that spurs an adventure among friends, creating lifelong memories for all.

Even technology and hospitality brands are embracing the digital detox trend. A Forbes article by Judy Abel published earlier this year mentions a variety of tech products that are, ironically, helping consumers unplug. For example, Freedom, a $10 app that disables Internet access on both Mac and PC platforms for as long as eight hours, helps consumers resist the urge to always be connected and inspires offline living and productivity. Travel destination St. Vincent and the Grenadines offers guests digital detox vacation packages and goes as far as mailing guests a guidebook prior to their visit that explains how to vacation without technology and offering an on-site life coach to counsel guests on how to break free from a technology-controlled life.

As a chief brand strategist, here are three ideas you can adopt so that your agency clients make the most of the digital detox trend: 

1.     Check in to Unplug. Craft campaigns for service brands that underscore creating “unplugged” memorable experiences with loved ones, such as hotels offering guests the option to “check in” their gadgets and tech devices at the beginning of their stay.

2.     Step Away from the Screen. Advise brands to offer promotions that encourage consumers to enjoy experiences offline, such as discounts to restaurants or museums (provided that the deals are a strategic fit with the brand’s essence).

3.     Resist the Urge to Push. When creating apps for brands, reconsider executions that center around push notifications and alerts; that is, apps should be as least digitally intrusive as possible given the trend of hyper-connected consumers needing to “recharge” and to feel more in control over their online media consumption.
    Brands across a variety of industries and across the globe are helping their hyper-connected consumers unplug by facilitating and encouraging meaningful offline experiences. "Recharge, reconnect, refresh" is the new mantra for brand strategists.

    Maegan C. Paniewski is an IMC graduate student at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications where she is pursuing a concentration in Brand and Advertising Strategy. She is an experienced creative director and photographer and enjoys running and practicing yoga. Connect with her on Twitter @mlotusdesign and LinkedIn.

    1 comment:

    1. Do you subscribe to any other websites about this? I'm struggling to find other reputable sources like yourself

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