This was one of those posts that gets started then you’re not really sure where you’re going with it so it stays in your drafts folder for ages… months and months in this case. Then you come across other thoughts and realise that somehow they’re all interconnected and at the end of the day, this doesn’t need to be perfect, right?! It’s my blog.
I always had the (original) title which came about from my experiences as a blogger, working in retail (specifically in athleisure) and from a short stint in a Marketing role. It started from conversations where some people begin to worry its things like their age or demographic why a brand won’t work with them and to be honest, sometimes that probably is the case. But from a business point of view, these are my thoughts…
When Did Brand Monogamy Become A Thing?
Brand monogamy is a concept that has fascinated me for a while now. I haven’t looked it up to even find out if it’s an actual “thing” because I know from personal experience that it exists. I think the first time I came across it was when I worked as a Trainer for Nike and their Nike Training Club brand. Many of the girls that came along to the sessions were huge brand advocates… decked out head to toe in Nike without a second thought for another brand and regularly shopping in store before or after classes.
In recent years however, stores have popped up (like Active in Style or The Sports Edit) that curate the best of any number of brands for you to shop under one roof so to speak (some are online retailers only). I think this was the beginning of change when it came to brand monogamy as it meant there were people out there who were willing to shop around, mix & match and essentially change up the game. With the rise in popularity of “athleisure”, countless brands have launched into the arena and with them all competing for our attention it’s no surprise that we start to look around and challenge areas such as price, quality and ethics.
I’m curious to know what a brand does that makes us as customers feel such an affinity that we would use no other brand? Especially so when it comes to fitness and the likes of brands like Nike, Adidas, lululemon etc.
Brand Muses Are Old News
Having worked in retail and for a number of major sportswear brands, their marketing was always focused on their “muse”; a character or customer profile that they use to create everything (product and marketing wise). Sometimes these muses are simply aspirational so as “regular” human beings we would never 100% “fit” who the brand is actually selling to.
But more recently, I’ve noticed that brands are focusing more heavily on characteristics rather than a “set in stone” muse. Take Adidas as an example who have targeted “creative” women with their “here to create” campaign and a campaign I recently spotted on YouTube called “Meet The Creators”. The women’s studio in Shoreditch delivers weekly creative sessions along with the regular sweat sessions which fit in with what’s going on at the time; I’ve done a collage workshop, a meditation workshop, a street art run… just to give a few examples.
I do however think that a muse must play a role in there somewhere; when you look at the influencers that some brands use, the lack of diversity is really striking. This is something I’ve talked about before and really not much has changed in those couple of years. It did come up in a conversation once that maybe this was due to the lack of diversity in PR in general. So when PR professionals are looking for influencers to work with, it’s maybe more likely that they (unintentionally?) gravitate towards influencers that “look like them”? I dunno. I’m just putting that out there as food for thought. One thing I know though is that the little power I personally have is first and foremost in how I spend my money and I’m making a conscious choice not to spend my money on brands who do not represent / reflect me and the BAME population as a whole. I guess the only other power that I have is through this blog and I’ve said it before, about silent agreements. When we see something happening and we just sit back and say nothing, it basically equates to agreement so if I ever have thoughts to share I will openly do so (…I guess this means that all the people who didn’t vote essentially voted for BREXIT by not utilising their vote?).
Customer vs Client Vs Advocate
If you’re not monogamous to a brand, then what are you?! Let me give you some examples; I just bought a textbook for my masters. I went on google, did a search, checked out the price comparison and then purchased from the cheapest retailer. I’ve never shopped with them before and in all likelihood I might never purchase from them again. I’m just a customer.
When it comes to food shopping, there are a few select places that I will go to. For my home delivery it’s only ever Ocado or Tesco. If I’m picking up bits between my weekly shops I’m a fan of Marks & Spencer or Sainsbury’s (but that’s actually mostly down to the convenience of a store being located on my walk from the tube station to my front door). So I’m a client of Tesco and Ocado; I’m highly likely to make repeat purchases and in their eyes, this is a relationship to be valued.
When it comes to laptops, I own a MacBook Air (by Apple) and I’d pretty much say I’m an advocate (as much as I’d hate to admit it). Buying a Mac was one of the best decisions (and investments) I’ve made due to the functionality and quality. If anyone were to ask for recommendations on laptops that’s the one I would give them. When (god forbid) I need a new laptop, I’m pretty sure I will replace it with another Mac. I’m an advocate.
Bloggers Make The Best Customers
At the end of the day, every companies ultimate goal is to make a profit. So essentially they’re wanting more customers while working on retaining the customers that they already have by managing relationships (…yeah you know, like all the chit chat on Twitter, replying to Facebook comments etc). So when it comes to working with bloggers and influencers, nothing has changed.
Every now and again, a conversation thread crops up in a group about a particular brand. It usually goes along the lines of “who’s going to this event” or “who’s working with xyz on this campaign”. There are usually a group of people (us) who are advocates for the brand and haven’t been invited and it’s only natural you’d feel a little undervalued or unnoticed, right?! In one such thread, I made the point that sometimes a brand may just want to engage with someone who is a prospect for them as a means of turning them into a customer, client or advocate because at the end of the day, us bloggers do really make the best customers! We’re happy to spend money (even though the rest of the world thinks we get everything for free) and then we’re equally happy to share our opinion about these products for the world to see! This is just modern age “word of mouth” and is one of the most trusted sources of information as people are becoming less and less trusting of messages directly from brands themselves. And there was one person who was extremely annoyed that they “weren’t on the radar” of a brand that they openly advocated. Personally, my business mind says that yes, such people are valuable to a brand however when it comes to being an influencer it would make more sense to seed new product to those who needed to be tipped over the edge into becoming a customer. Surely there are brands who have a strategy to seed product to an influencer for just long enough to get them hooked? …I mean, I’m pretty sure that brands have done that with me in the past.
Anyway, to summarise, it’s obvious that a brand can’t work with EVERY influencer out there as to be frank, everyone seems to be a blogger or influencer these days. I read an article recently that said younger generations are now more inclined to purchase from brands who’s vision they align with so it makes sense that if a brand has a vision they’re gonna (or should) look to work with influencers who also share that same vision (i.e. Adidas and creativity). So just because a brand doesn’t work with you doesn’t mean that they haven’t noticed you or that they don’t appreciate your custom and your efforts in advocating their brand. I recently got quoted in an article in Balance magazine (which you can also find online here) about how to become a blogger where I shared my tip about going out and creating your own adventures rather than waiting for brands to reach out to you with ideas and collaborations. Plan your adventures and if you feel inspired to reach out to a brand, do that. Or share your journeys and adventures as you would anyway and if a brand connects with you through that then it’s just a bonus. I’m all for going out there and creating what I want.
What are your thoughts on this?!