Marketing best practices: How to be relatable


Unless your marketing, copywriting, and advertising departments are all somehow made up of your target consumer, matching their tone of voice is always going to be challenging. 

So, short of overhauling your team every time your consumer positioning shifts, how do you capture the tonality and vernacular of your audience? How can you write from a perspective you don’t hold without sounding like a fraud?

They key lies in consumer insights, and of course, trial and error. But, thankfully, there’s been plenty of this at the hands of other companies for us to learn from. Here, we see recent best efforts.


The Cut

The Cut Instagram

For a media company to consistently produce content (that, I perceive to be) witty, relatable and relevant is no easy feat. 

Here is a fashion blog, owned by New York Magazine, able to product content ranging from stories of new motherhood and latest runway shows, to “14 Cardigans for Fighting Aggressive Office Air Conditioning” and “You May Never Have Things Under Control, But You Can Have a Pajama Set”.

The contrastingly sardonic and lighthearted humor mirrors a voice within today’s youth – self-aware and self-deprecating.  Sex and the City references prove nostalgic for Millennials and ‘vintage’ for Gen-Z, something that’s always in demand.

Combine that with a new merch store, with t-shirts referencing their most Insta-worthy headlines, including “Rihanna is my Pope”, “John Mayer’s Newest Song is About Bath Bombs”, and “I Survived Union Pool”, and you’ve got authenticity that comes from both a young editorial staff and contributors, and well chosen pop culture references. 

Therefore, while it may not be completely feasible to overhaul a team, bringing in consultants or a test group to see how they perceive your company or client’s upcoming efforts may be worthwhile. Even just sending it to staff member’s family/friends and seeing what they think. It doesn’t take many people to determine if the tone sounds accurate.

Additionally, choosing the right visual and verbal references, if any, will be key too. Qualitative information is key, and media seems to be getting it right. And with media posed to be successful partners in new retail strategies, understanding this research focus is a smart move.



Spotify Instagram

Spotify first made a splash in its advertising tactics with billboards. Based off of their 2015 year in review, where consumer data was analysed for demographic trends, they used the same mass of data to look for punchline worthy moments.

Highlights included: “To the person who listed to “Sorry” 42 times on Valentine’s Day, what did you do?” and “Dear 3,749 people who listened to ‘It’s the End of the World As We Know It” on the day of the Brexit vote, hang in there.”  The ads were also made on a local level, with specific neighborhoods and venue references depending on the demographic information collected in their research.

Next in 2017 came another effort, with a new year theme, resolutions were stated, based off of user data. Examples ranged from the hilarious “Take a page from the 3,445 people who streamed the ‘Boozy Brunch’ playlist on a Wednesday this year”, to the political “Deliver burns as well as the person who streamed ‘Bad Liar’ 86 times the day Sean Spicer resigned”.

Most recently, they are currently running a campaign “Love What You Love”. The multi channel operation includes out-of-home placements and video spots all surrounding consumer tastes and preferences. 

In this case using the consumer’s own words and behaviors was the best bet to reach them authentically. Here raw data makes sense for the base of their consumer profiles. There is no hidden caveat here, it doesn’t get much more personal and in touch than somebody’s playlists. 

From Spotify, we can learn the idea of using consumer feedback and usage to our advantage. In any company, what people order, purchase, stream, etc the most all points to a bigger picture. 



Hinge Instagram


Then we meet somewhere in the middle with the dating app Hinge. Positioned as a dating app for relationships, and trying to disrupt the “’swiping-mad’ hook-up trend, its prior efforts have included a two minute-long video about a dating hellscape that many found relatable. 

This changed with their latest campaign. A series of OOH ads related to local areas, similar to Spotify. They use long-form copy to take pieces of a user’s profile, such as their favorite meal or how they spend a typical Sunday, and apply it into an sweet, aspirational yet realistic scenario of how a first date could go, knowing that information. 

The long-form style actually makes for a ramble-like story, aligned perfectly with the “Let’s be real” tagline.

This campaign combined the best of both The Cut and Spotify. Though more similar in nature to Spotify since they are both brands launching campaigns, not a media endeavor, the combination of use of humor, consumer data, well placed references, and location specific copy makes this campaign the best of both worlds. Which brings us to how your company can tackle this brand positioning.


Action Points

Determine relevance: Before considering the how behind this marketing practice, first you have to consider if it is right for your company. It is easy to see these efforts and think, “I’d love to reach my audience like that.” But consider your audience. Is it constantly shifting? Is it a wide range so that both demographic and psychographic information varies heavily? If so, using niche language and tone may alienate the clients you don’t target right away, which could be hard to re-obtain if your brand image/values change in their eyes.


Establish research methods: We saw that in different cases, the use of qualitative and quantitative research took precedence. The one that is right can be determined by the kind of information you have available to you, what you need it for, and how you want to use it creatively past a “who are we targeting” scope.


Consider partnerships: Finally, consider brand collaborations and partnerships. It’s a means of appealing to more specific targets, splitting both the cost and reward with a partner. But, as always, choose this collaboration wisely, as the point here is authenticity.


Interested in more consumer insights? Download a sample of our monthly Youth: ICYMI report here, part of our Insight subscription.

Know what’s next. Become a WGSN member today to benefit from our daily trend intelligence, retail analytics, consumer insights and bespoke consultancy services.