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The Influencers

Marketers: Why We Need to Be Gatherers, Not Hunter Gatherers

RAPP, 2 months, 2 weeks ago

INFLUENCER: Aimée Bryan, Planning Partner at RAPP, on the difficulty of 'switching off' in the digital age

Marketers: Why We Need to Be Gatherers, Not Hunter Gatherers

This autumn, the second season of Channel 4’s ‘Hunted’ is back on our screens. 12 fugitives outsmarting ex-police and remaining on the run for 28 days. Dom Bird (C4 Head of Formats) has been quoted as saying he believes that the new £100,000 prize pot will see the fugitives and the hunters alike, ‘raise their game’.

Which for me begs the question, what price is freedom?

And maybe more poignantly, what possibilities does freedom have these days?

I struggle to see how, against the landscape we’ve mentally and physically created for ourselves, anyone stands a chance of evading ‘capture’ for 28 days. I seem to struggle to disconnect myself for even a long weekend! 

However much we actively decide we want to switch off for a few days, it’s hard to shake the devil on your shoulder, whispering sweet FOMO nothings in our ear. If it’s not the phone buzzing in your pocket, it’s the tablet/laptop/spare phone in your bag, crying out to be heard. The lure of Facebook and Instagram voyeurism. 

For whilst those stronger willed amongst us may run and succeed in tuning the voices out, you’re unlikely to successfully hide. The gingerbread trails we unknowingly scatter behind us are imperishable nowadays.

Everywhere we go, everything we do, you can be assured that someone is tracking our every movement, our every action. Those hunter gatherers of data intelligence; smartly repurposing all that information into usable ways to connect us back to the life we’re desperately trying to evade! Apps like Strata or Tinder letting your followers and ‘friends’ know where you are in the world. And whilst you might choose not to communicate with certain individuals, you can be sure that Messenger or WhatsApp has let them know when you were last ‘on grid’. Proactively choosing not to contact them.  And all that played out within the public domain, before you overlay how the financial or retail industry can start probing into what your new found ‘freedom’ prompted you to eat, drink or wear. And the Ubers of the world tell us whether you chose to enjoy the experience alone or not.

We know from our own research that today’s consumers value choice, control, convenience and clarity alongside their desire to be part of a community. But when being part of that community comes at the cost of personal choice and control, how quickly do we start jumping out of those communities? Actively seeking more personal solitude and shutting ourselves off? Today’s liberated, confident consumer doesn’t want to feel trapped within the confines of a permissive or submissive state, where we have to report or request the need for a little alone time. 

I’ve recently been starkly confronted by this reality. As a friend, I question the behaviours some of my personal community demonstrate towards each other. And as a marketer, I realise that if on a personal level we’re struggling to manage the balance between respect and invasion, it’s even more imperative that we take a long, hard look at the activities we undertake as businesses. 

As humans first, and marketers second, the last thing we want is for our customers to feel ‘hunted’. So let’s collectively start thinking twice before we hit that ‘send’ button. Before ‘off we go a-stalking’ let’s consider whether our actions will feel invasive. Whether they’ll feel like they’re overstepping the line of the relationship we hold. Or the relationship to which we hold the right.

What if as friends, family and marketers alike, we consider ourselves more ‘gatherers’ than ‘hunter gatherers’ in the data space? Less hungry to consume and seek out. More grateful to receive and share. To respectfully consider the community code and not to overstep.

You can be assured that I’ll be watching ‘Hunted’ with avid interest. Hoping to pick up tips on how to better escape. After all, whilst you can run, persistence trumps solitude in our society these days.