The best brand marketers now instinctively adapt their products and campaigns to handle mobile-first millennials – it’s the new normal, and therefore true brand innovation needs to come elsewhere.
While everyone has been focusing overwhelmingly on digital engagement, some leading brands have noted the resurgence in physical formats such as vinyl. Let’s explore this subtle but potentially incredibly important shift in consumer attitudes, look at who is jumping on the vinyl trend, and what you can learn about brand positioning and new product development.
Vinyl is back in a big way
The exponential growth of vinyl sales follows years of decline, but in 2017 Sony announced it will open a new vinyl factory in Japan.
As this Rob Lefebvre says, writing for Endgadget on the 2018 annual report from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), “Records are still cool”.
And fascinatingly, digital downloads are in fact outsold by CDs, vinyl or other physical media. The trend to note here is that consumers clearly feel there is something significant about the need for tangibility, to hold and experience something that feels real.
More lagom than hygge
The all-pervasive global cultural movement of hygge – the Danish way of living, which, loosely translated, means a mood and atmosphere of comfort, familiarity and cosiness is clearly connected to the resurgence of physical formats; its emphasises on cozy, comfortable and quality living can be directly linked to the qualities of vinyl and the practice of putting it onto a turntable.
However, it is potentially in a new Scandinavian culture phenomena – the Swedish ‘lagom’, that we can find a lesson for brand behaviour. Lagom is the recognition that there is need for balance between things (in our case, physical and digital).
IKEA is getting the party started
Talking of Sweden, and to get the party started, IKEA has embraced this trend by creating new products in collaboration with Teenage Engineering, a collective of creatives known for making music and designing electronic instruments like speakers and synthesizers, in order to help throw a great party at home.
IKEA conducted a survey finding that 65% of all 18-29 year olds millennials play music to get a “homely feeling” meaning that music is important in the home. The resulting collection ‘Frekvens’ will consist of products such as an electronic choir, vinyl player and party lighting:
Frekvens from IKEA
Key Lesson; are you aligned with what your customers are seeking – a shared attachment to enjoying things collectively.
Most good marketers are instinctive as well as knowing how to work with hard data, so ask today – does you new campaign ‘speak’ to your consumers in an honest, relatable and truthful way? Equally, do you have the right partner to deliver a credible voice that complements your existing offering?
Shinola – from watches… to turntables?
Challenger brands are also making big plays behind vinyl in their product and communication. Shinola, more famed for its awesome leather goods and watches loved by Bill Clinton, has branched out into audio products, and its new runwell turntable. The turntable is Shinola’s first audio product, and is deliberately geared towards the discriminating audiophile and easy to use by any music enthusiast:
Key Lesson: Here we see a radical departure in product set from a company more famous for watches and leather goods. But it does not feel jarring due to the style of presentation, the clean design that mirrors the other product set, and the commitment to the aesthetic.
Shinola has delivered these new products authentically using their own brand tone, iconography and content style. This means it sits in the ‘family’ of products.
Sonos – also integrated with your records
Equally, Sonos, a wireless music company more associated with Spotify and Apple Music issued guidance on World Record Day about how to get the best of their audio with vinyl. There’s a permanent guide on their website:
Key Lesson; Here Sonos stays’ true to its wireless digital music identity but does not hide from the preferences of some of its users. Note the use of language designed to engage and recognise difference – ‘Some love it for the warm, pristine sound quality or the crackly nostalgia of hearing the needle glide through the grooves. Others enjoy the tactile experience of opening a record, laying it on the turntable and focusing their attention on just one thing – sonic equivalent of cracking open a paperback’.
Incredibly inspiring to read and very grounded in customer preference.
How can brand marketers apply this trend to their company?
The brands mentioned in this article are appealing to a mindful and intentional way of consumption. In forming your own response to this trend, don’t forget to:
- recognise that digital is not your only playbook for innovation. What new products could you introduce to connect to your audience?
- consider ‘feel, warmth and taking time’ when getting your message across – it does not have to be all bite-sized, snackable content.
- act with both a reverential nostalgia and a fresh approach – what partner could help you integrate what you do with new technology or a new lifestyle choice?
Above all, make sure your campaign and products point towards your empathy towards the consumer search for a feeling of connectedness and authenticity.
Be true to yourself and your customers and everyone will win.
For more on brand and creative strategy, get yourself down to the Festival of Marketing 2018, October 10-11 in London.