April 16, 2020
Saturday Night Live’s first At-Home edition this past weekend was the latest example of media and entertainment properties finding creative ways to broadcast and connect with their audience. Whether it’s Tom Hanks hosting SNL from his kitchen, the Today Show’s Carson Daly appearing from his living room with his kids in their pajamas or CNN’s Anderson Cooper broadcasting from his home office, the stay-at-home orders have given us a unique peek into the home lives of musicians, athletes, actors, media figures, politicians and dozens of different experts.
Having access to the private lives of celebrities and public figures is not new, as reality TV and social media opened that door years ago. But having access in a way that strips away the artifice is rare. The fact that we’re all going through the exact same thing makes us feel more connected. Why? Because under these circumstances the connection feels more authentic, more relatable.
In a similar way, this access to people’s personal lives has taken over the workplace. Our co-workers and customers are now seeing where we live, meeting our families and being introduced to our pets through videoconferencing. We’re joining calls with messy hair, wearing our go-to weekend sweatshirts and sitting in our favorite chairs.
Videoconferencing platforms are enabling a new level of human connection. The question for brands is: will this create a paradigm shift in the way consumers expect to connect in the future?
Brands spend millions of dollars on marketing programs that seek to build emotional connections with consumers. The novel sense of human connection that’s been growing since the outbreak of COVID-19 could lead to a permanent shift in the way brands establish closer ties with consumers.
Imagine what this could look like: A pet food company’s marketing lead shares their visit to the vet to get their dog vaccinated, including the challenge of getting their dog in the car. The head of consumer insights at a baby products company conducts a product preview from their living room with their kids running around in the background. A brand manager from a kitchen appliance company discusses a new promotion as they and their family clean up after dinner. A video game developer shares a photo of them testing a new game in their basement with their dad taking a nap on the couch nearby.
If brands give access to the lives of the employees who make their brand what it is, and can do so in way that everyone can relate to, will consumers feel more connected to the brand? More trusting? More loyal?
As we think about how this crisis impacts the ways we connect and communicate, brands need to seriously consider the role that real, raw access plays in their efforts to create meaningful connections. Now more than ever, consumers are less interested in the manufactured, scripted or staged. So, whatever brands do, they just need to be human.
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