VISUALIZING: Consumers are embracing a visual culture in which imagery represents a call-to-action.
As I write about our next trend, I want to be sure to thank the teens and tweens with whom I regularly share my nightly sojourn home aboard the P7 bus here in Pittsburgh. They have witnessed me trying to get up-to-speed with and grumbling about my new iPhone and have offered me sage advice and some tips and tricks. More importantly, they posed a question to me that that has driven me head-long into the digital world: "Don’t you speak visual?"
Visuals – photos, EMOJIs and video snippets – have become a new vocabulary that not only fuels the growth of Pinterest, Instagram, SnapChat and Tumblr, but has in some ways replaced text and messages as a call-to-action to purchase, consume and take actions in everyday life. As a message guy who has spent decades perfecting the process of identifying the most convincing language for image and product campaigns, I am chagrined yet intrigued at this burgeoning trend we call Visualizing.
Why Visualizing? It seems that consumers, bombarded with data, are increasingly seeking images as a short hand. For Millennials, it’s becoming a native language affecting how they communicate and shop. A recent study in the UK found out that 45% of adult consumers younger than 35 would like the ability to take a photo of a product with a mobile device, then directly link from that photo to a site where they can purchase the product. No need for text about product features – just the picture please!
It’s not just the younger crowd either. Increasingly, clients are asking us not to test textual messages or positioning statements but instead photographic and others images to determine which resonate, set the proper mood and conjure up emotions that are conducive to establishing a proper frame of mind (usually “buy my product” or “support my position”). The trend is toward consumers looking first and reading second; if what they first see doesn’t excite, they move on to the next image (or product).
This trend affects any company seeking to sell a product or service. Images capture immediate attention, and that’s why more and more product development dollars are being spent on package designs, as opposed to traditional marketing and advertising. I still don’t believe the statement “Advertising is Dead, Long Live Packaging,” but Visualizing indicates that consumers place supreme importance on the visual image.
Want to know how companies can profit from this trend?
IMAGE: CC/"Polaroid" by beverlyislike