Year on year, the advertising community descend on the French Riviera fired up for a week of creativity and innovation at Cannes Lions. In recent years, the ‘mobile consumer’ has been a hot topic, but in 2015, the industry noted a fresh concept - the ‘new consumer.’

Fetch stated that it’s no longer about the device, but rather the individual. Brands need to listen to today’s consumers and understand them in order to really connect and engage. So on a whistle stop tour of last week’s event, let’s look beyond the device and get to know the person.

Who is the new consumer?

Today’s Generation Z consumers are savvier and more connected than ever before. A staggering 80% of 15 year olds in the UK own a smartphone, and a third have a tablet. They are constantly consuming content on the go, forever dipping in and out of the vast quantity out there. This choice to consume what they want, when they want, and via whichever device they want means it’s no longer good enough to serve irrelevant, impersonal ads. Brands need to step up to the challenge of understanding who their audience is and how they’re feeling. This is the first step towards delivering effective content.

We heard from Radio One and The Economist this week that building a sense of community is key to engaging with the new consumer to earn and keep their trust. Content needs to resonate and put the individual’s interest at its core — this is what all new consumers crave. Geographical location plays a big part in creating that community.

Take Apple Radio for example; the industry is very excited about the concept, but is it really possible for a brand to connect on an individual level across 100 territories. Consumers like advertising to be personal and relevant down to where they are and what they’re doing.

No time for complacency – no loyalty here!

One of the resounding messages we heard from several industry leaders and creators at the festival is that loyalty is dead. In today’s noisy content landscape, there’s no place for complacency. We’ve all heard about short form content being the holy-grail for the time poor consumer, but what does that mean in reality? Pharrell Williams told us that since 2000, our attention spans have decreased by 25%!

Advertisers now only have nine seconds to engage with the new consumer, so time really is of the essence. With so much choice out there, consumers aren’t going to stick with the same brands for life if they don’t constantly feel engaged with personalised content. Being creative matters and story telling becomes even more crucial to campaigns when there is limited time to play with. Pharrell challenged the audience to unleash creativity through collaboration and believe in campaigns to ensure they are on point every single time.

Without this, consumers, especially millennials, will call brands out in seconds.

It’s not just millennials – the older generation are shopping around

The new consumer isn’t just a millennial. Flamingo acquainted us with the fifty-plus group at Cannes, and they’re not sticking with brands for life either. In an age where they have a larger network, more fluidity and better opportunities, they’re looking for brands to align with that. More so than ever, no matter what generation, consumer attention and engagement must be earned.

The new consumer owns multiple devices, and yes, mobile remains an integral part to any brand’s strategy. However it isn’t enough to just have a mobile proposition. The choice of content is huge for the new consumer! Brands that want to achieve genuine and continued engagement need to deliver the right content, to the right person, at the right time. If content isn’t targeted and doesn’t appeal to them or connect with them personally, it won’t make them feel valued and ultimately won’t work.


By Alvin Bowles, SVP Demand at RhythmOne. 

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