How to capitalise upon travel trends: Five comms strategies

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By Heather Bull, Hill + Knowlton Strategies

Trends can seem overwhelming. 

But if your company wants to thrive in what is predicted to be the VUCA – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous – decade, keeping abreast of them is integral. 

Here are my top five recommendations to make trends work for your company….

1.    Reframe the role of trends  
A trend is simply data that tells us behaviour is changing. We can then use that data in three ways: to spot opportunities for growth, manage reputations and mitigate risk. 

But trends don’t stay in one bucket. They can easily shift from growth to risk if you’re not paying attention to them.

An example of this is consumer expectation towards sustainability. Back in 2012, sales data from Sainsbury's showed that despite shoppers being more price conscious, sales of sustainably sourced food rose by 8.5 per cent. There was the opportunity.

Fast forward nine years, and regulators are all over this topic. From the bags we use to the cars we drive, the operating space to claim any first mover advantage is diminished.

Sustainability is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s business critical. 

2.    Stay true to your purpose
But does that mean you need to jump on every trend as it emerges? 

No. You must utilise the trends that align to your purpose. 

And what do I mean by purpose?

At H+K, we believe Performance + Purpose = Preference. With expectation around company and executive leadership higher than ever before, Purpose driven communications is essential. 

I have seen companies like Pampers, Dove and Skittles navigate this well. But then I have also seen Pepsi being accused of appropriating a racial protest movement to sell fizzy drinks. 

If you don’t have a credible right to speak on a topic, don’t do something just because it’s ‘on trend.’ 

3.    Know your audience
When you have identified the authentic trend you believe is an opportunity, you need know your audience. Who they are. Where they are. What makes them tick. 

I appreciate that sounds obvious, but how many times this year did you think the phrase ‘we really need to do this on Clubhouse’ has been uttered this year without understanding who is on that platform?

When you understand your audience’s influences, passions and time, you have some powerful insights from which to build a campaign. Here’s an example of adidas using its understanding of its 16-24-year-old football fan audience to launch its new Predator boot. 

4.    Say one thing, five times
So, you’re armed with your audience insight. Now what are you going to do?

Say one thing. Five times. 

It’s been said that we’re bombarded with 4,000 – 10,000 ads every day. The secret of a successful campaign, therefore, is to make your content different to the role of each channel but keep your message consistent. 

To do that, you need all internal stakeholders across marketing, brand, and comms aligned on the goal. And then you need ALL your external agencies briefed at the same time. 

It might be painful at the start – many companies are fragmented lines of communication – but I promise you will see ROI if you structure your briefs this way. 

5.    Use the 70/20/10 rule
When you know your trend, what drives your audience, and have an aligned key message, it’s time to get creative.

Amplifying a trend under the 70/20/10 rule (70 percent for bread-and-butter content, 20 percent for innovating what already works and 10 percent for experimenting) is a great way to carve out budget for ideas that tap into trends.

When you carve out budget for trends, you get Boots owned beauty brand Soap & Glory tapping into gaming and creating a first-of-its-kind Rec Room game, thereby reintroducing the brand to a younger audience. 

When you carve out budget for trends, you get Ford creating Mach-Eau – a premium fragrance made with hints of gasoline - to highlight that its new electric car delivered the performance many drivers associate with petrol. 

And when you carve out budget for trends, you get to share a Coke with Heather. 

As these examples show, using the 70/20/10 model can not only identify your future 20% - or even 70% - content, it can reap big rewards in helping to gain new fans and reset perspectives.

And there you have it – five simple strategies that can help brands understand, and take advantage of, travel trends. Which one will you capitalise upon today?

Suitcase Essentials is a quarterly debrief that packages up H+K’s top travel insights into one destination. Download a copy here