Sphinx PR- End of year thoughts.
The below is simply our thoughts on the year and how things have changed!
The 2016 US election has severely damaged trust in all messaging across every channel regardless of individual political beliefs. This represents a global change in consumer behavior, impacting every nation and every genre in similar although subtly unique ways. Branded impressions have increased with conservative estimates over 25% since last year and right now people spend 10 hours on social media each week. Images and humor penetrate faster than deep dives and heavy text.
Video longer then a trailer is perceived as something that takes time to process and will be relayed to delayed viewing.
On the B2B side, even established, long-term contacts have been under heavy levels of stress and instability for an extended period of time. Response times on press releases/eblasts and reviews have doubled since last year. Reviews are often taking a solid month or longer.
These new numbers represent a new normal, not a special case. Furthermore, they can be exacerbated without warning when conversations are interrupted by The Drama of the Day. As political actors take to social media and communicate directly with their audiences, they muddy communication channels. A new bill, a new scandal, a new gaffe can now do more than just overshadow a product launch or a review; it can preempt it entirely. These longer lead-times and volatility should be expected to last until the next major market and/or political correction.
In spring of this year, the air started to slowly leave the room. A simple financial concern at both a retailer and consumer level began as all levels started tightening their belts. By July, consumer spending in both liberal and conservative geographic areas had started to drop on higher ticket items. By the end of the year, smaller publishers were reporting abysmal convention sales even at places they had historically seen as evergreen shows. The one exception to this downward trend is that small price point items seem partially immune for now.
All geek genres are becoming more insular at the core consumer level. This appears to be a direct reaction to the new mass market (or "casual market") interest in things like superheroes, sci-fi, costuming, and games.
This casual interest is driving core fans to react with gatekeeping; Whatever each “tribe” sees as “standard” is becoming a sign of both comfort and strength. What's changed is the internet's ability to both formalize these "standards" and enforce them globally.
On the one hand, many creators and publishers are still in markets with (seemingly) fixed prices. Which means that to increase annual revenue, publishers and creators are forced to sell more product. Since consumers are spending less individually, that's left many publishers and creators feeling like they need to diversify their offerings, their consumer base, or both.
On the other hand, many fans and retailers feel that publishers and creators are losing touch with them. They report feeling stress from "demands" that they buy more product to keep "up to date," or they feel alienated as new ideas and new consumers are challenging how the nerd community sees itself, its heroes, and its stories.
Furthermore, the creep of political discussion into nerd markets is fueling the market-wide feeling of desperation as fans, retailers, and even creators take to social media to lament the "loss" of their fandom. Politics has only strengthened tribal tendencies, making reactions faster, more coordinated, and more toxic.
Where we go from here?- Direct face to face connections with your consumer is the strongest way to build your business at both a consumer and retail level.