Getting from What to Why

Increasingly, advertisers are realizing the need to shift gears to attract and cultivate relationships with a new breed of consumer: the digital native. One client recently lamented, “We have always been a manufacturing company who made a great product. It used to be that we advertised the product to the right people and that was enough.” Not so anymore.

Our world is crowded and complex, with more people, brands and communication channels than ever before. Today’s consumers, and especially younger generations (think millennials), are looking to connect on their own terms. They’ve basically rejected the traditional product pitch and posed a new challenge instead: “Tell me who you are, what you stand for and why I should care,” they say. “Then, I’ll decide whether or not I choose you.”

The Internet has created the perfect platform to house, collect and prune these choices, hence the notion of buzzed-about “curated experiences.” Marketers especially must remember that the vast majority of consumers will soon be digital natives who were born and raised online. Given the enormous array of choices, this generation has decided to get very personal. “If the product, company or brand doesn’t fit my image of myself, if we are not likeminded, then I’m out.”

Here are a few brands creating killer emotional connections:


This LOL funny spot shows personality, quirkiness, something unglamorous, with a real people feel. Oh and, it manages to show the “what” along the way.


TOMS shoes are not only stylish and comfortable, the company also prides itself on its commitment to giving back. TOMS encourages a strong emotional connection with its socially conscious (and strategically brilliant) One for One campaign.

Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation

The why here is simply put: because cavities can spread from baby to adult teeth. The why – of supreme importance in behavior change campaigns – becomes a more consultative way to remind parents of the what – avoiding sugary drinks like juice.

In a world of what, consumers may buy once and immediately lose their bond with the brand. With an emotional connection, advertisers gain customers for life, raving fans who will promote them, connect on social media and beat down the door for the next product.


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