Educating the customer. Where does it fall between brand mission, brainwashing and altruism?

Most of us were lucky and were educated by fairy tales and legends during out childhood.

Those thinking that their time has passed should not despair. We are now surrounded by other educational stories: a long and happy life, which is guaranteed by a membership in an exclusive gym, where through the help of a metal bottle and a bamboo toothbrush we can achieve eternity. We are well aware of who benefits from changing customer needs, but are the new age meteorologists predicting that companies who are changing behavior only produce brainwashing always right? Let us briefly take off our metaphorical tinfoil hats and agree that not everything in this case is harmful to the consumer.

The transformation of a pirate

How many conversations about music conclude without mentioning any music platform? 83 million loyal Spotify Premium listeners in 2018 corresponded to 43 percent of the global market – more than Deezer, Apple Music, Pandora and, to be honest, any other music platform in the world. As they grow up, they are slowly inviting the global music industry to eagerly bite down and check the sturdiness of gold between their teeth.
While 13 years ago, the global recording market was in decline. Sites such as Napster and Pirate Bay had created a society where music – like fresh air and green grass – had to be accessible everywhere, anytime and without additional charges. In such an environment, Martin Lorentzon and Daniel Ek offered users a platform better known today as Spotify, which, while offering high quality music, requested $ 10 per month for access to its database. The price isn’t steep, but torrents are free…
Luckily, it turned out that even the hardiest online pirates can turn face when receiving favorable conditions. The opportunity to get a premium quality service for a trial period with no commitment was also effective. For although a customers don’t want to part with their money, they are even less likely to want to lose what they already have. This is how Spotify’s convenient subscription method and design was able to attract investors and their first customers. Over time, these features have pulled the entire music industry out of the financial rut it was in, building a productive modern digital subscription model and becoming one of the most successful consumer re-education models.
“With time” often means “following trends”. The convenient media that has emerged has led to a downturn in the CD market, but how does it adapt to the growing demand for vinyl records? While millennials find themselves scouring basements for dusty old turntables, Forbes is seriously predicting that by the end of this year, the new vinyl will surpass CD sales.
The environment is surrounded by phenomena that are initially considered marginal and now occupy an increasingly larger part of life: the circular economy based on the Zero waste movement, organic and vegan products, smart and electric cars. We can see how companies are increasingly profiting not from appealing to the needs of consumers, but rather changing them. And the price, which is increasing with the quality of the goods has very little to do with anything here.

The monomyth – stories changing lives

Every good campaign tells a story that shapes the client’s image before and after. Before is a tasteless breakfast, car congestion and flabby hands. After is the polar opposite filled with vibrant colors, a shining smile and a firm six-pack.
It is a universal fairy tale, a monomyth, which was covered as far back as 1949. by American comparative mythology specialist Joseph Campbell. The journey of any hero be it Snow White or Mr. Skywalker begins with an unplanned separation from home and the world that the hero knows. Sometimes it happens impulsively and sometimes it is forced upon by circumstances. A guard is place at the threshold between the present and the unknown world, only those who prove their motivation and potential receive passage through the portal. On the path to understanding the hero encounters plenty of helpers and even more obstacles, only after overcoming the last task can the hero reach apotheosis and triumphantly return back home. Although the physical finish line is also the starting point, the character ends the journey changed beyond recognition. The hero will never revert to his or her original self.
This construct may seem absolutely literary, but is indispensable in most walks of life, it is present from psychoanalysis to marketing. For example, in 2018 The Apple HomePod ad, goes through all the steps in just over 4 minutes and reaps tons of accolades. An ethical high quality product invites the customer to experience this metamorphosis in just over a few weeks and to integrate it into his or her daily routine. Adopting a client to a legal and convenient mobile application, a daily ride to the gym, a healthy diet or a water thermos may require several attempts, but it is an investment into a newly reborn and loyal customer.

Something new, something superold

Consumer upbringing is not a recent invention. Toothpaste manufacturers understood that a daily ritual must leave the customer changed as early as the turn of the last century, because of this to this day dental hygiene products give us a fresh minty taste in the mornings and in the evenings.
Benetton, an Italian clothing manufacturer, is today associated with its controversial advertisements, which invite conversation on sexuality, racism, venereal diseases and social inequality in a large-format. Campaigns that started in 1992 have been subject to wide negative backlash that criticized the brass and open way of presenting sensitive societal problems. However, with them the opinions of radicals started blooming, which reminded the world that there is still something to talk about. In this way, the clothing manufacturer successfully (emotionally and financially) established itself as one of the most powerful siphons of tolerance and consciousness in the minds of consumers.
The ultimate goal of such a company is to make the client recognizable from everyone else. In this case, the customer becomes a trademark advocate and a walking ad column. All of this because the company gave him or her the chance to transcend and become at least a bit better. What’s more, the phrase “Content is king” is a favored mantra of communication specialists, while in the service industry “Quality is king” reigns supreme. Maybe the same can be said about transformation? “It took me a while to get used to it, but now I would never go back”, the words of a loyal customer who has already acquired the aforementioned apotheosis through the product.
After all, you can’t be angry. If the brain is brainwashed, then only to make it cleaner.

Be the first to get the news!

We constantly monitor news and trends in the world of communication and then pack everything into our newsletter. Want to stay up to date? Just sign up with your email and INK will take care of the rest.

    You’re done – the INK Newsletter can finally make its way into your mailbox. Thank you! Good deeds come back in good letters.