As the machines take hold, why understanding humans matters more

Starcom Melbourne's head of strategy Roger Lintzeris reflects on four distinctively human consumer trends that will keep advertisers connected to their audience.

As marketers, it’s easy to get distracted by the latest whiz-bang technology. LLM (large language model) this, metaverse that. But while the machines may be getting smarter and more useful, we can’t lose sight of the humans. After all, they’re still the ones we’re trying to connect with.

Let me distil four current consumer trends that should matter more to you than any algorithm.

Trend #1: Community and Belonging

We’re more disconnected than ever thanks to technology, divisive politics, and everyone glued to social media. People are craving real human connection. Not just online either – they want to join tribes and be part of something bigger IRL (in real life).

What’s this got to do with advertising? Brands that bring people together around shared passions, interests and values will win loyalty. Think less mass grey advertising, more facilitating meaningful communities. Sounds like gaff, but applied the right way you’ll have an army of brand ambassadors.

Miele is fostering human connections with their cooking demonstrations run out of their Experience Centres across Australia. The high-end appliance maker is bringing foodies together over their shared love of baking and cooking. Customers can learn the secrets of cake wizardry, discover how to make the perfect pizza (pro tip: no pineapple!) or embrace the rich cultures of the Lunar New Year through the unifying power of food and Miele’s expert team of chefs. It’s fostering collective interests, a sense of community and a whole lot of love for the brand behind it.

Miele is bringing foodies together with their cooking demonstrations run out of their Experience Centres across Australia

Trend #2: Finding Joy

Between pandemics, wars, inflation, and Greta Gerwig missing out on an Oscars nomination, times are bleak. People are fighting back by seeking out joy, fun and living in the moment – even for life’s simple pleasures.

From an advertising perspective, it’s time to lighten up that media mix – give people delightful escapism and excuses to celebrate. Partner with brands outside your category to add a dose of the unexpected.

Starcom and our client, Bega Group, recently sent a pack of Zooper Doopers into the stratosphere with a little help from comedian Tommy Little – why? Because it’s fun and exciting to see stuff go into the sky and freeze! It brought joy to Aussies, especially on these balmy summer days.

Trend #3: Margot Robbie Energy

The intersection of technology, celebrity culture and psychology has birthed the era of hyper-individualism. Everyone thinks they are the lead in their own feature film.

Help consumers express their personal brand by letting your audience customise and personalise. Work with diverse content creators who give different perspectives and remember, there is no such thing as TMI (too much information) when it comes to data-driven personalisation.

Sounds complicated and expensive, but even in simplicity it can breed success. For several of our clients we’ve been utilising Meta Advantage Plus and Google Performance Max as two platforms that automatically personalise creative messaging based on individual data signals and optimise to those that are performing highest.

Trend #4 Imperfection is Beauty

The Instagram era of perfectly curated lives is over. People are now comfortable flaunting ‘messiness’ and imperfections as a genuine flex.

Don’t be scared to get gritty. Ditch stock images for authentic content in all its glory. It’s about shifting the perception of ‘imperfections’ to be something that makes your brand unique, not trying to hide them. This is a cache of cultural capital if done right.

Tourism Tasmania has been the poster child for this with their Off-Season campaign. The creative celebrates the unique and oddly wonderful combined with a media blueprint that allows the messaging to come to life in the most honest and real way.

Tourism Tasmania’s Off-Season campaign is an example of celebrating the imperfect

Of course, with exponential change we need to stay ahead of tech disruption. But let’s not forget there will always be humans at the heart of what we do, as irrational and marvellously unpredictable as ever.

So, put down the microchips and pick up a mirror. Getting inside the heads and hearts of the delightfully flawed species that is homo sapiens – that’s where the real magic happens.

Roger Lintzeris is head of strategy at Starcom Melbourne 


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