Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cats make the best brand barometers

I like to observe…no I love to observe. And one of the things that I’ve observed with a bit of wonder is the phenomenon of the Cat Craze.  I may have been uber late to the game, but I became more observant of this after the success of ‘Grumpy Cat’ memes in late 2012 and his 2013 SXSW Mashable House guest appearance.  At first glance it could be excused as a simple exercise in humor and snark. I mean who doesn’t like the opportunity to make fun of a grumpygus? But it went beyond ‘Grumpy Cat’.  It became an explosion of cats in all shape, colors and forms of emotional expression.  If you don’t be believe me, just see the jump in Google Trends from October 2012- May 2013. (and that’s just for angry cat and cat meme) 

But what if the craze was reminiscent of a bigger change, a change in attitudes, in perception? In 2010, The University of Texas at Austin conducted research on people who identified as a cat person, dog person, both or neither. People who identified as cat people were lower in extroversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness, but higher in neuroticism and openness. If I were to make a loose left field connection, what could this possibly mean on a broader scale?  It could mean an increase in introversive tendencies. It could be an increase in stubbornness and indifference.  It could also mean that high stress living is here to stay.  An upside would be openness…but that could even mean a reluctance to stay committed to any one thing.

Take a moment to let the possibilities sink in. 

Maybe not at any one time, but a few of these characteristics are the same challenges that brands are up against everyday.  Beyond breaking through competitive clutter, reaching consumers may get even more difficult as their expectations of engagement change.
Of course, there is a way around it….a red laser against the wall.

I kid! I kid! Of course not, but a similar device all the same, disruption and authenticity. 

I read an article yesterday morning from Fast Company that Airbnb utilized 60 people to distill their 2014 business goals down to one sheet of paper, but with this one sheet of paper they plan to disrupt the hospitality industry as a whole.  AND in a way that is true to their brand and the people who love them.   They mentioned a cleaning service, but I could see food, transportation, luxury, as well as entertainment extensions that would ring true for their brand as well.

In short…although they may not all be your target, imagine building your plans to shock and awe the grumpy cats.

Here’s a cute picture of Benedict Cumberbatch with a space kitty to put a smile on your face just in case you need a meow today.

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