New research has examined the role of echo chambers in Australia and their impact on society, media and brands, offering guidance to marketers on how to escape the sea of sameness surrounding their industry.
The independent study conducted by the human and cultural strategy team of FiftyFive5 and Nine’s marketing solutions division, Powered, examined the rise of echo chambers with a nationwide survey of more than 750 Australians consumers, and marketers, complemented by four conflict focus groups.*
“For marketers, the sea of sameness is becoming all consuming,” said Toby Boon, Nine’s Director of Strategy, Insights and Effectiveness. “This was highlighted in many brands’ COVID-19 responses which saw a plethora of ‘we’re here for you’ messaging, yet consumers had little understanding of what exactly that meant in reality. Brands need to understand the echo chamber they operate within and how to break out of it to better engage with Australians.”
According to the research, 63 per cent of marketers identify as functioning in an echo chamber, versus 44 per cent within the general population, while 69 per cent of marketers identify with feeling validated when surrounded by like-minded people, versus 55 per cent of the general population.
This highlights the opportunity for brands and the need to invite different, alternative voices into marketing conversations to break free of the industry tropes and generate new, unique forms of marketing to engage with new audiences.
For brands wanting to enter social conversations the research highlights the important of authenticity, with consumers ready to call out virtue signaling and empty platitudes.
“Brands must be careful how they articulate their point of view in the world. People do want to hear from them but only if there is a shared interest, not a shared interest campaign that is moonlighting as a profit driver,” Hannah Krijnen, FiftyFive5 Director said.
“If a brand is to have a point of view on topics of cultural significance, it must be nuanced and educated and not fall into the binary tropes of a cultural debate or conversation. Brands need to prove that the work has been done, that they are coming from an informed place, and the point of view is part of their world. Brands need to ensure they know where they exist in culture and where they don’t.”
The research also highlights the importance of brands acting before communicating to avoid empty platitudes that fail to create a genuine consumer connection.
“Brands shouldn’t jump into a topic because they feel they have to – that creates an echo chamber in itself,” Boon said. “Brands can talk to their consumers on topics relevant and important to them, but consumers are ready to call out an empty platitude. Brands need to be ready to back up their communications with clear action. The days of applying a filter over a logo in solidarity are over.
“However, brands can choose to remain focused on producing and selling their product. Having a point of view doesn’t work for every brand, and it’s equally important to know what works for your brand and what its mission is.”
*It should be noted the research period covered both Australia’s devastating bushfire season and the beginning of Australia’s COVID-19 pandemic however in market research was completed by the time the Black Lives Matter protests started.
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