Day in day out, I find myself buying stuff that is entirely futile to my everyday needs; I find myself a victim of yet another excellent marketing campaign, promising to make my life easier, to hinder my ageing, to melt in my mouth like heaven on earth.

This is how humanity has evolved, but the new generation wants to buy, wants to consume, and wants to have the new big thing. This appeals to brilliant business minds, who translate this greed into another business opportunity. “What the customer wants, we will offer” is the slogan of success, automatically placing the customer at the centre of focus of all marketing and product development decisions.

However, this statement also implies a duality that is quite hidden to the naked eye. Other than products developing analogous to consumer behaviour and demand, it also alludes to the undercover mission of making the customer believe that the product offered is exactly what they need. This begs us to address a question that springs from this concept: are we all just victims of smart advertising?

The foundations of effective advertising

The goal of an effective advertising campaign is to persuade, and the art of persuasion is established through three primary principles that have been historically employed to engage with customers: 1) ethos, 2) logos, 3) pathos.

Advertisements can be seen as the main method by which a company communicates its brand to the world, as well as how it establishes a connection with the customer. What they say must convey the correct message (logos), establish a connection based on trust (ethos), and generate the desired emotion in the customer (pathos).

Data boom

But how can theory be turned into practice? The answer is quite simple: data analytics. Data can provide insights into how to build a relationship of trust, when and how to advertise a product, as well as how to influence what customers feel about products.

Truly understanding consumer identity is key to unravelling behaviour trends that can help companies segment their customer populations, target their most valuable customers, as well as spot essential purchasing drivers. All this will then allow them to tailor marketing touchpoints accordingly. Without data about targeted customer segments, marketing campaigns are rather a shot in the dark.

The current data boom is not only about extracting insight about the age, gender, location, income, and various lifestyle choices of an expansive customer base. Data can be analysed to redefine customer profiles that will then drive marketing campaigns even further, by identifying four vital pillars of effective advertisements:

  1. How to attract existing and new customers
  2. How to make people react
  3. How to take advantage of the detail
  4. How to drive brand perception

Understanding and predicting customer reactions

Firstly, companies need to understand how to affect existing customers and attract new ones by making them think about your product for longer than the mere ten seconds after their first contact with a colossal billboard or a catchy radio advertisement.

Secondly, it is about understanding what makes people react, how to correctly pick your spokespeople and social media strategies. This rarely means thinking within the industry lines – celebrated football stars and singers have advertised for Gillette and Armani underwear.

Image Source

It’s all about the detail

Thirdly, it is about detail, about how advertisements are understood and what they mean to individual customers. It is about the filter you choose on Instagram, the character you give to your tweets because ultimately the viral capability of social media can make or break a brand.

Parisian fashion label Balmain has made its brand popular amongst the fashionable youths by focusing on Instagram posts. Head designer Olivier Rousteing and several of his supermodel friends profusely posted pictures labelled #BalmainArmy on Instagram during the last Paris Fashion Week, making it the most followed high fashion label.

By including social media socialite supermodel sensations like Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid in its campaigns and catwalks, Balmain secured viral social media posting of its brand.

Source: Instagram (Gigi Hadid, Balmain, Kendall Jenner)

Brand perception

Lastly, it is about customer perception of a brand, and looking at sales historically to understand product placement in films and music videos.

Jaguar Land Rover fought for a spot to place their products in the iconic films of James Bond, where cars are a staple for the villain-chasing, woman-wooing spy adventures. This is a great example of subtle branding that comes from understanding what your customers like about your products, and about your brand.

Not all customers are speed-loving cliff-jumping spies with a licence to kill, but this fantasy appeals to a large part of both the film fan base by creating an image of prowess, power and desirability for the Jaguar Land Rover cars. It is all about intriguing and captivating customers’ emotions, trust and desire.

Source: Jaguar Land Rover, Live Trading News, MGM

Steering marketing strategy

Both as an individual consumer, and as a population of consumers, we are all candidates for behavioural analysis. Human behaviour is largely repetitive and hence predictable, so the combination of analytics and trend recognition with marketing is undoubtedly a field that will provide invaluable insight for uncovering pioneering ways in engaging digital generation of customers and steering brand development.

Analysis of sales following the application of a smart, catchy social media advert such as Balmain’s Instagram posts, or the analysis of social media traffic following a smart product placement like the Range Rover in James Bond films, could ultimately reveal how a novel application of logos, ethos and pathos can engage consumers.