Can Brands Survive on Storytelling in an E-Commerce Future?

What started as marks and symbols on the walls of caves around 40,000 BCE soon became letters, paragraphs and eventually books. It became apparent that stories forever more will be the lone voices travelling through generations and garnering the interest of many. Whatever form they took, humans have shown an increasing fascination towards words to relay some form of meaning.

Michael Wayne Rosen in his blog writes “we make them up, we use them, we are in some sense made by them”

Then a correlation between stories and human nature suggests that it’s a cycle, being the influencer and the influence. Despite the changing forms such as the cave walls, the leaf stories, or the earliest book “Gilgamesh” written on clay tablets, the meanings attached to them became significantly important and brought up the question of why they still matter. What do we, as humans, take away from them? Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, Gone with the wind. Why do they still resonate with the millions today? What caused them (their content) to become immortal and everlasting?

While at first, we couldn’t quantify the level of responsiveness over the years that stories received, we do know that as these forms became redundant, industrialization brought in printing presses, this allowed the stories to become widespread. We observed that with the changing of eras, the stories also evolved to appeal to a wider and dynamic demographic. The damsel in distress was replaced by the strong female narrative. And these changes were brought in as the world progressed towards the information age also known as the Digital era. This brought in pouring amounts of information. We needed data analysts to organize and make sense of it. Open borders allowed information exchange. People started seeking inspiration from different cultures, movies and stories. The new era helped stories to become ubiquitous and connected everyone; forms and the content adapted to cater to the people.

So, what did it mean for the businesses and brands whose marketing strategies we have seen evolve from being focused only on the product to offering experiences and stories?

Who saw the power of storytelling and used it to let their brands become more prominent in the eyes and hearts of the consumer. Marketers have often resorted to using storytelling as an important content marketing technique.

Goody, has built their entire brand on a very powerful and insightful story. The story of a woman who wants to amaze her family and friends, the story of every woman.

Another example is of Almarai. We all have seen their TVC’s as they managed time and again to create a positive response from their customers. Their products centre around happy families, backed by their high quality and packaging. Their 2016 campaign video was shared 1.3 million times by its second week. The story tells us how a new mother wants nothing but the best for her child. And the best decision she can make is to give the best nutrition available. Nadec Dairy is another reputable brand who, in their TVC, managed to communicate brand values of freshness, consistency and high quality to the audience by showing different everyday situations where their product can be consumed easily. Be it in classrooms, workplace or homes. In all three examples, we see how brands have used video marketing to interact with the customers to show first class content. Grab attention and drive them to buy their product. As social media became more prominent these brands used Twitter, Facebook and other tools to build their brand and humanise it. This also allowed them to collect data in real time.

The digital era guided marketers in the direction to employ these tools at the right time to maximise their effectiveness.

But it leaves us wondering as to how long can they still rely on such methods? What happens when we have exhausted all options by benefiting from emotional appeal tactics?

Just like how ads in the past have been based on sarcasm and humour to get people to buy products, what new methods do we look for in the future? An increase in online shopping such as at Alibaba Express, Amazon and eBay, show that online transactions have increased and even though e-commerce is growing at 23% year-over-year, we find that content consumption has also increased by 57% in the last two years (Hubspot). We also see the role that technology is playing, like Siri and Alexa that uses algorithms for its searches giving its users the lowest priced product available. Non-branded category searches have increased while branded products consumption through online shopping has decreased. A contributing cause of this decline might be companies like Google.

“… 20% of Google searches on Android handsets are input by voice.” (Christian Rebernik).

As more people get access to devices such as smartphones and tablets, e-commerce sales grow right with it. E-commerce allows people to do comparison shopping who want the best price for the products. Similarly, online consumers can find products that they might not be able to find it in the local mall. Some brands have resorted to omnichannel shopping to maintain and increase their customer base. But at this point, it’s vague to say whether e-commerce will dominate future consumer patterns or storytelling will continue to influence consumers for a considerable future. Will emotions continue to play the same role for marketers? Or, will people begin to put convenience above emotions?

This post is part of the Jampack thought leadership initiative to inspire professionals worldwide

Plan B is part of the Jampack group. We are a group of diversified companies delivering all the P’s of marketing under one umbrella.

#shoppermarketing #ecommerce #future

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