John Lewis

John Lewis recently came out with an emotive ad centred around fatherhood. In typical John Lewis fashion, the ad went viral, gaining an overwhelming positive response on social media and via news outlets. But what exactly makes the ad effective? Its tagline ‘For All Life’s Moments’ is a bit of clue to its success. Targeting life moments can help make your brand stand out from the crowd. Here’s the behavioural science behind it and how your business can use life moments to create an effective campaign.

Pulling on the right emotional strings

There is a fierce competition for customers attention. Your ad needs to be relevant and able to establish an emotional connection with your audience if you want to stand out in a crowded marketplace. John Lewis does this exceptionally well. The ad shows every aspect of parenthood, from the mundane sleepless nights and stained shirts, to the milestones like first steps and birthdays. This makes it highly relatable to those who shared the same experience. In fact, the positive response came largely from fathers who praised the ad for how it ‘got them completely’.

Your brand needs to target these relatable life moments if you want to have the same effect. In order to cut through the clutter you need to talk to your audience directly. When forming your creative think about who your audience are and what will resonate with them. Remember relevancy and establish an emotional connection that makes your messaging stick out and stay with them long after your 30 second ad is over.

The power of life moments

The genius of the ad does not end with creating an emotive connection, it also taps into the topic of life moments which is rather effective in advertising. Life moments, such as moving house, going to university, getting married or retirement, are some of the most memorable and emotionally charged moments in our lives. As such, advertising that taps into these core life events can create a genuine connection between the brand and the consumer.

While most of our daily decisions are habitual, these life moments serve as disruption of the status quo. For example, moving to a new house changes where you shop and go to the hairdresser, but it may also entail predictable one off purchases, such as buying a table or a sofa. This is both a threat and opportunity for brands.

Brands who have customers that are transitioning during these life moments may need to spend extra effort to keep them. On the other hand, it is an opportunity for brands aiming to acquire new customers as they are more willing to try new things. Richard Shotton found that consumers in moments of transition can be as much as three times more likely to change brands than those who are not.

There are also some more predictable moments of transition. We are more likely to make changes in our existing habits before a new time period such as New Year’s Eve, Wedding Anniversaries or turning a special age like 21 or 30. Katy Milkman calls this the ‘Fresh Start Effect’. She theorised that in general we want to be consistent with our older selves, however, during these transitional periods, the link between the past and the present weakens allowing us to establish new habits and behaviours.

Digital advertisement provides various ways of targeting customers who went through a specific life event:

  1. Google provides information on what people search for that can be indicative of the kind of life event they have gone though.
  2. Meta allows targeting based on age and the change of their relationship status.
  3. LinkedIn can be used to target users who recently changed jobs.
  4. YouTube allows you to target people who recently moved house.

To put this in practice, Total Media has been capitalising on these insights to drive successful campaigns to clients from different verticals. For example, Carabao’s marketing effort strategically used selected mediums to best reach prospective customers at the precise moments where they were most likely to change their habit and consider purchasing an energy drink. In this case, social media channels were used to target key moments, and Display and DOOH was used to reach prospecting customers during their lunch break and after work.

With these capabilities advertisers have the opportunity to reach the right customer base. However, it is ultimately on the brand to craft the right creative and messaging that will resonate with their existing and prospecting customers, as well as to identify the locations and moments where they are most receptive.

What should brands do next?

The first step is to understand your audience. Who exactly are the people you are trying to resonate with? This could be as simple as a furniture company targeting people moving house, to a clothing brand looking to target New Year’s Eve outfits or birthday dresses. Once you get a clear idea of your audience you can begin thinking of what life moment to target, and what media you will use to do exactly that.

Here at Behave we help brands understand their audience, as well as finding the best way to communicate with them. For more information on how life moments can help your brand create an effective ad contact our expert team today.

Daniel Hegman - Associate Consultant

Author:Daniel Hegman - Associate Consultant

Daniel completed an undergraduate degree in Politics at SOAS and a postgraduate degree in Cognitive and Decision Sciences at the University College London. At Behave, Daniel combines his academic training and first-hand experience in digital advertising to help clients develop innovative and effective ways of reaching their current and prospective customers.