The Swirl: May 15, 2017

This week, we’re doing things a little bit differently. Carter Barnett - one of the Swirl co-founders and weekly writers - had the opportunity to attend Iconosphere (one of the best consumer insights conferences out there) in Las Vegas. As we know, understanding consumers is the basis for effective advertising. So in this case, what happens in Vegas isn’t staying in Vegas. You’re welcome. In this edition: consumer attitudes, millennial parents, and the new retiree.


Post-truth (adj.) - relating to circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief. Also the 2016 word of the year.

So what does this mean for us? Basically, this means that consumers are extremely skeptical of everything today - including brands. And even if your brand is completely honest, consumers are on high alert. You can thank crises like Volkswagen emissions for that. Main point: don’t lie, be prepared for an attack (even if it’s a rumor), and react with empathy.

For the general consumer...

SwirlNotes: Fun fact: 51% of consumers believe advertisers have an outdated view of moms and don’t understand them. And this doesn’t just apply to parents. Turns out marketers are missing the mark with a lot of consumers. Eek...


Many of us spend a good portion of our work lives trying to determine what really drives consumer decisions. And we know it involves more than demographics, but what else? According to Iconoculture, it has a lot to do with these things called consumer attitudes. What are attitudes, you ask? Attitudes are made up of a combination of values and motivations. Values meaning what we consider most important to us (ex. family, education) and motivations meaning what influences us (ex. life stage, society). Values generally remain stable over time, and motivations change over time. The secret sauce is understanding how they work together. Brands that do tend to be uuuber successful. So, next time you’re thinking about your audience, think about what’s important to them and what’s influencing them.

BEST PRACTICE: Xfinity taps into family time.

For the millennial parents...

SwirlNotes: Contrary to popular belief, millennial parents aren’t that different from everyone else. They share a wide range of commonalities with previous generations when it comes to raising kids. What’s unique are the external factors changing the way millennials have to think about parenting.


Millennial parents today don’t have it easy. Childcare is expensive, the amount of parental information available is overwhelming, and new technology is posing a threat to their children’s safety. In simpler terms, millennials are working harder to afford their kids and worrying more about the decisions they make. Apparently some creepers out there have figured out how to hack into baby monitors. So yeah - parenthood today is stressful. And millennials with kids have a lot of fear. From food to “screen time,” they worry about every decision they make. So, what should brands do? Marketers should demonstrate empathy and can win by embracing real moments, disposing all judgment, and committing to helping them survive these hard times.

BEST PRACTICE: Chatbooks celebrates real moments.

For the boomers...

SwirlNotes: Never call a boomer a senior. For one, half of the boomer generation hasn’t reached 65 yet. But more, they hate old-school terms for aging. Mainly because they don’t see themselves as being old yet. Unfortunately, most brands haven’t quite grasped this.


Eighty percent of boomers feel that advertisers are making mistakes with them. Ooph. This has a lot to do with marketers portraying boomers as “old” and focusing on things like poor health rather than good times. Wake up call: boomers are more optimistic than the silent gen, and using past marketing tactics to target seniors just won't work anymore. Boomers grew up in a time of indulgence, and it's becoming very clear that this mindset isn't going away any time soon. We've known for a while that boomers think of retirement differently, but it seems like brands just can't catch up. Now is the time to officially make the shift. Given the mass amount of boomers and their tremendous spending power, we promise you'll be glad you did.

BEST PRACTICE: Chase helps boomers retire on their own terms.


What will life look like post-smartphones? Thanks to new innovations like Alexa and the Apple watch, it’s happening faster than you think.