Brand Strategy Web3 Digital Strategy

Getting personal: how brands can harness cultural association in web3

By Maira Genovese, Founder & president

MG Empower


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March 14, 2023 | 8 min read

How did Phlur sell its new fragrance without a scent? By selling a feeling, not a product. Maira Genovese of MG Empower talks about how to lean into culture and capture feelings, not things.

Woman behind sheer white shirt

To resonate with people on a personal level, brands should tap into what's culturally relevant / Andy Henderson

How many of us have bought something not because we needed it, but because we were sold on the feeling we thought it would give? Probably all of us.

As humans, we subconsciously try to connect the dots with every decision and action we make, and that includes our individual association and relationship with a brand. The subconscious mind is far more powerful than we give it credit for.

As web3 continues to evolve, so will consumer behaviors. This means brands are on the lookout for ways to stay relevant and strengthen their presence within it. But we need to remember these spaces are decentralized – there’s a lot going on involving all-consuming, boundary-blurring, immersive experiences. So, to make it work, brands need to connect with their audiences on a much deeper and personal level.

Remember: good marketers sell products, great marketers sell solutions, and excellent marketers aren’t marketers at all – they’re storytellers. And what’s one of the most impactful ways to tell (and sell) a story? Cultural association.

Tap into joy

‘Cultural association’ is being used as an umbrella term here, but really, it refers to a mixture of components brands can get excited about for their web3 strategies. And, like a well-written fairytale, if the storyline is strong enough, it’ll be passed down through generations.

Over 25% of product purchasing decisions are driven by cultural relevance. From this stat alone, we’re humbled in the reminder that the value isn’t only in the product or service itself, but rather in how the stories behind it emulate a sense of real connection for consumers to experience and enjoy.

On top of this, 45% of consumers think brands should be involved in, or announce their position on, social issues and movements. This is especially relevant for brands that are trying to tap into Gen Z and emerging generations, as they feel even more strongly about this. Other incredibly effective areas that help build this include philanthropy, transparency inclusivity and staying current.

A brilliant recent example of this is the launch of ‘Missing Person’, a new fragrance by Phlur. Here, the scent was marketed in a digital space, meaning people were unable to sample the product in any way before purchasing it. Despite this, the product sold out in five hours and created a waiting list of over 200,000 people. But how did they do it? By selling a feeling, not a product.

Instead of focussing on notes, they focussed on the feeling of ‘smelling someone you miss’. A prime example of how tapping into personalization can skyrocket your brand in a digital space.

Touching on presence

At some point in time, we’ve developed these experiences in the form of being physically present in IRL moments. And that’s still apparent as 85% of consumers have expressed that they still want to have a physical experience, hinting that in-person connections are unrivaled, until now, where new technology allows us to bring a sense of presence into the virtual world.

This is what gives web3 such potential; it allows the two to blend together, providing quite literally, the best of both worlds. But be mindful about what consumers really enjoy. The possibility and flexibility to connect in both realities. Even though web3 provides tons of opportunity, brands shouldn’t neglect traditional channels but instead curate multichannel touchpoints that integrate seamlessly for an omnipresent, always-on customer experience.

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Use data to learn

This hybrid ecosystem is also leading us to revisit the way we collect, read and analyze data. In order to create strategies based on stories that truly resonate with the lives of communities, brands must ensure they are living and creating the data they capture, and always using it to test, learn and nurture relationships with their audiences, especially in such complex landscapes where people are navigating across online and offline realities.

At the end of the day, the secret isn’t in aid of a particular space, tool, platform or even product, but instead, the story that resonates best and most with your community. The fact is, anyone can copy a brand’s product or service but nobody can replicate a brand’s cultural positioning, its credibility and relevance to a specific context and the links it creates in people's lives. And this is, of course, a concept that will champion success in web3.

We’ll be diving further into cultural association at this year’s SXSW. If you’re attending, join us there.

Brand Strategy Web3 Digital Strategy

Content by The Drum Network member:

MG Empower

MG Empower is a global integrated marketing agency that empowers brands with data-driven storytelling. As part of the DXG Group - a world-leading group of Hubspot...

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