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Health and beauty, fashion and fitness, home and travel … the lifestyle vertical has no shortage of brands striving to compete for consumer’s attention. For emerging lifestyle brands entering this vertical and seeking to build their audience, the competition is intense, and the rules for building engagement with customers continue to evolve. Today, engagement is all about interacting with consumers, not talking at them, and content marketing provides the medium to stimulate those conversations. Emerging lifestyle brands shouldn’t overlook the following three content marketing strategies to claim their stake among the competition and foster an audience following for their brands.
Image via Flickr by wuestenigel
It seems like an often-repeated refrain in content marketing circles, but it’s true: You have to understand your audience. That understanding involves identifying with its needs and desires. Emerging lifestyle brands that are able to deliver consumers content that speaks to those needs and desires can communicate authenticity through their intentions. Dash Water is a great example of a brand carrying forth on that commitment.
Dash Water began with the idea of taking misshapen and unattractive fruits and vegetables that couldn’t be sold in British green grocer markets and turning them into flavoring ingredients for zero-calorie sparkling spring water. In an interview with Marketing Week, co-founder Jack Scott noted that accessibility was a key market need upon which Dash Water delivered. “I see it as more of a lifestyle brand that offers something credible that tastes good and doesn’t have any of the artificial sweeteners or sugar. We want to be accessible to all. We’re not selling a £6 [6 pounds British currency] juice that only certain people can buy.”
The brand’s social media platforms are replete with tasty tidbits of content that appeal to consumers concerned with their environmental footprint as well. A May 15, 2018, Instagram post breaks down the numbers: “We’ve sold over 500,000 cans saving approximately 4,000 cucumbers, 6,000 lemons, and 9,500 raspberries, all of which would have otherwise gone to waste.” Other samples of posts on the brand’s social media channels communicate the value of affordability and creative uses for the product, including inexpensive ice pops made with the flavored water and eco-friendly plant containers fashioned from the product packaging.
“[Lifestyle brands] have a premium, aspirational brand identity that suggests a certain quality of lifestyle,” says Deborah Weinswig, a retail analyst for Fung Global Retail, who also noted that lifestyle brands continue to dominate the upper end of the retail sector in an interview with AList. “They are often younger brands, rather than heritage luxury brands. The brands have distinct design characteristics that consumers like to be recognized as wearing or owning.”
While emerging lifestyle brands can capitalize on this continuing trend, the stories they tell need to be compelling to stand out. Mediocrity and copycatting won’t cut it. Taking on the likes of Tito’s, Stolichnaya, and Grey Goose, for example, requires unabashed boldness. But for one spirits startup, boldness is a part of its brand story.
“Created to enhance the modern social experience,” Holla Vodka has positioned itself as the antithesis of the snobbery and elitism traditionally associated with drinking vodka. Holla Vodka eschews the notion that you have to drop a paycheck to have a fun time with your vodka. Through its brand communications, it taps into the emotions of a young adult audience in a way no existing vodka brand is doing.
“Your vodka is boring. You already knew it, but we just want to confirm it. We didn’t need to be fancy. We know we’re fresh. We have a simple mission: to provide an exceedingly fun social experience. After all, isn’t that what we’re searching for when we’re out for the night? So put down your boring cocktail and give us a shot.”
Emerging lifestyle brands shouldn’t be afraid to take some shots at being bold with their own creative storytelling, and what that storytelling looks like will be different for every brand. Perhaps that story unfolds over a short video series. Perhaps it’s creating compelling data visualizations, such as infographics or animated videos, which detail exactly what your brand does and why it does it better than anyone else. Use multimedia forms of communication to reach audiences on social media and video platforms. Whatever mode you choose to take, be bold and courageous with your brand story.
To get seen on the lifestyle scene, emerging lifestyle brands need a community of ambassadors to actively share content. Those ambassadors come in the form of customers and partners whom you shouldn’t overlook as active stakeholders in your content marketing strategy. But cultivating user-generated content can have as much impact as the content you create on your own.
American Eagle used this approach to create content for a cause. What began with a brand promise to use only model photos that weren’t professionally retouched led to an initiative to call attention to the unhealthy body image standards placed upon women. American Eagle pledged to donate $1 to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) each time an Instagram user posted an unretouched bikini photo with the #AerieReal hashtag. In fiscal year 2015, American Eagle saw its sales increase by 20 percent as a result of this marketing campaign.
In addition to showcasing the power of what brand ambassadors can do, the American Eagle story offers another takeaway that emerging lifestyle brands shouldn’t ignore. People don’t just want pretty content; they want content that’s actionable. Companies that raise the profile of important causes such as eating disorder awareness resonate with consumers who value doing business with brands with a social sustainability mindset. That type of commitment not only generates great engagement with your content, but it can also help you communicate your company’s values and establish yourself in the lifestyle vertical.
Delivering great content for an emerging lifestyle brand requires leveraging the power of bold storytelling, building your base of brand ambassadors, and placing audience needs and desires at the heart of your messaging.