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Unilever's Knorr is focusing on motivations of flavour and 'foodiness', not just demographics

Knorr's 'Love at First Taste' campaign

Brands focusing only on marketing to demographics are missing out on a huge opportunity, according to speakers at The Drum’s Future of Marketing conference.

For Unilever’s Knorr, the brand is concentrating its efforts on targeting to consumers based on their interest in foodiness and flavour as well as demographics, according to senior global director Ukonwa Ojo, who explained how the brand tries to find ‘commonality’ with its consumers.

“I like to talk about the concentric circle of what the brand cares about and what real people care about – we only have permission to talk about the connection that’s in between. So while a succinct message is important, I think it’s important to understand what consumers are passionate about in that channel, and what they want to hear about from the brand.

“Wherever that intersection is, I think that is where the magic happens. Hopefully in that intersection we find commonality that is rooted in the purpose of the brand.”

Where consumers are “open” to seeing content about food and flavour is a key priority for Knorr, Ojo added. “Where they’re really open to messaging about [foodiness and flavour], it just makes it a very effective investment for us to be speaking to them on their terms and in a channel where they’re open to it.” The shape of that content will vary from channel to channel, but come from the same brand purpose, she added.

Darren Goldsby, chief digital officer at Hearst, said traditional demographics don’t always play out for the publisher. “When we publish a brand like Good Housekeeping there’s a demographic expectation, but it isn’t always the case. And there’s a content expectation, but that isn’t always the case. If you’re marketing to a demographic based on an idea that’s in the back of your head as opposed to what’s going on in the outside and what’s going on with the content in front of you, then you’re missing a massive trick.”

By recognising the various functions of its content – for instance, inspiring, informational or intent-based – Hearst, whose flagship brands also include Men’s Health and Cosmopolitan, can use content to better understand the motivations of its readers in order to better inform and engage advertisers. Goldsby likens the approach to that of a content marketing agency.

“From an advertiser perspective I want to be able to show that that person has a greater intent to do something, that there’s a relationship with the content. So I look at the tools that digital marketers use and I want to use those in my commercial campaigns, because I want to say ‘look, we are a marketing agency – we’re a content marketing agency.’”

We are Social’s marketing director Tom Ollerton argued that making inherent assumptions about various demographics – for instance, that younger audiences consuming content on a mobile device won’t want to watch content longer than a few seconds long – is a misstep as audiences will watch something for longer if they have the motivation and interest to do so at that moment. “The reality is, the length of the content should adjust to the motivations of the audience.”

It’s particularly easy to fall into the trap of assuming commonalities when it comes to ‘millennials’, said Ollerton. “Thinking a 20-year-old boy and a 35-year-old girl have anything in common is bananas. They’ve got almost nothing in common other than they have important moments and motivations to them. If someone wants to learn how to make a casserole, they’re not going to watch [the content] for five seconds – it’d be a pretty shit casserole, so it’s important to think about the motivations to them.”

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