Are we becoming more rude? 

This question was inspired by a recent read, Kit Yarrow’s Decoding the New Consumer Mind.  One of the recurrent themes was the fact that we are more distracted and as a result, more rude in our interactions with others.  Ironically, however, we still seek deeper emotional connections via engagement in our virtual worlds.

What she’s saying can’t possibly be true! I have never…

  • Carried on multiple simultaneous conversations both in person and via text…yikes, GUILTY.
  • Sat at the dinner table with my ears on our conversation and my eyes and hands on my phone… yes, GUILTY.
  • Forfeited an in-person conversation opportunity for a Facebook discussion thread…again, GUILTY.

Ok, verdict rendered. I am the rudest person on the planet…and I’m assuming none of you have ever been guilty of similar behaviors, either. 😉

We (or at least, I) have succumbed to ever-present distraction… and have possibly become a little more rude in the process.

While there are a number of questions about this trend’s impact on society, as a marketer, I’m wondering how this impacts how we should talk to more distracted people.

  • We can be ‘louder’ – Be the BIGGER distraction.  Spend a ton on media.  You can be loud, outrageous, funny.  It may be seen.  If you’re one of the lucky few, it may even go viral.  But today’s viral is often tomorrow’s old news.
  • You can be relevant – Rather than interrupting your customer, what about engaging with them?  What do you know about what your customer values – and when would they most appreciate what you have to say or offer? Part of the battle is understanding not just what to say, but when to say it.
  • You can touch the heart – I was taught to evaluate advertising creative based on a number of criteria, including how it touched the heart.  It’s a couple of years old, but I still think about this Mom’s First Birthday commercial from Pampers Japan. When communications can be honest and insightful about common human concerns, it can not only cut through the clutter, but stick.

I’m no psychologist or sociologist, but in a way, a good marketer does have to be a bit of one.  What are some of the things that are core to the human condition today… and how can we respond?

  • Many people are lonely.  We are almost always (digitally) “connected”, but are ironically oftentimes physically and emotionally lonely.  How can we lend a warm human touch to a colder, more distant world?
  • We are taunted by inadequacy.  Comparing our lives to our perception of others’ on social media is a burden.  How can we help people restore their confidence?
  • We live in self-built silos. We feel more worldly, as we seemingly have infinite access to information and one another.  But we consume selectively, and see the same world through [fill in your name here]-tinted glasses.  How can we unify a highly fragmented world?

I know these sound like tall orders for someone marketing something seemingly banal, like deodorant or cleaning products.  But when you uncover the layers of why someone uses these products – it becomes apparent that the drivers are surprisingly emotional.

Tapping into the core of human condition may be one of the keys to capturing the hearts, minds, and attention of our distracted (and, well, slightly rude) consumers.

What gets your attention?


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