A few weeks ago, the advertising community, RhythmOne included, descended on the French Riviera for seven days of creativity and innovation at the 62nd Annual Cannes Lions Festival. In recent years, the ‘mobile consumer’ has been a hot topic, but in 2015, the industry noted a fresh concept - the new consumer. It’s no longer about the device, but rather the individual; brands need to listen and get to know the new consumer in order to really connect. It’s time to look beyond the numbers and devices and meet the person.

Meeting the new consumer

Today’s consumers are savvier and more connected than ever before. They are constantly consuming content on the go, forever dipping in and out of the vast quantity out there. This choice to consume what they want, when they want, via whichever device they want means it’s no longer good enough to serve irrelevant, impersonal ads. Brands need to take up the challenge of understanding who their audience is and how they’re feeling. This is the first step towards delivering effective content.

At Cannes, Radio One and The Economist informed us that building a sense of community is key to engaging with the new consumer to earn and keep their trust. Content needs to resonate and put the individual’s interest at its core — this is what all new consumers crave. Geographical location plays a big part in creating that community. This is also enforced by how Google and Facebook continue to showcase how “fans” are the most powerful consumer there is…and personal interaction is paramount to establish meaningful connections. Take Apple Radio for example; the industry is very excited about the concept, but is it really possible for a brand to connect on an individual level across 100 territories? Consumers like advertising to be personal and relevant down to where they are and what they’re doing.

We also heard from Twitter’s humorous VP of Data Strategy, Chris Moody, who discussed viral hashtags including #TheDress (receiving 4.8 million tweets in one month), UN’s #HeForShe and #PutOutYourBats. He focused on the everyday moments of a new consumer’s life. Brands must pay attention to these moments in order to harness their power: they’re constant and provide consumer insights around specific interests. For example, there are two million tweets a day about fashion!

Loyalty is dead

Several industry leaders at the festival believe that loyalty is dead because in today’s noisy content landscape, there’s no place for complacency. We’ve all heard about short form content being the holy-grail for the time poor consumer, but what does that mean in reality? Pharrell Williams told us that since 2000, our attention spans have decreased by 25%! Advertisers now only have nine seconds to engage with the new consumer, so time really is of the essence. With so much choice out there, consumers aren’t going to stick with the same brands for life if they don’t constantly feel engaged with personalized content. Being creative matters and storytelling becomes even more crucial to campaigns when there is limited time to play with. Pharrell challenged the audience to unleash creativity through collaboration and believe in campaigns to ensure they are on point every single time. Without this, consumers, especially millennials, will call brands out in seconds.

Beyond millennials and mobile

The new consumer isn’t just a millennial. Flamingo acquainted us with the fifty-plus group at Cannes, and they’re not sticking with brands for life either. In an age where they have a larger network, more fluidity and better opportunities, they’re looking for brands to align with that. More so than ever, no matter what generation, consumer attention and engagement must be earned.

Yes, the new consumer is on mobile, but being on mobile is not enough for brands anymore. If content doesn’t appeal to them, connect with them personally and make them feel valued, it won’t work. Targeting shouldn’t be treated as a mechanism in the advertising ecosystem, it’s much more than that. Brands must target with quality.

The choice of content is huge for the new consumer. Cannes has shown us that brands that want to achieve genuine and continued engagement, need to deliver the right content, to the right person, at the right time.