Aspirational Marketing

Until recently, the idea of a tastemaker or an influencer was centered around the idea of what could be. Often, content posted by influencers was so out of reach for the average consumer that it mostly served to make onlookers feel bad about themselves. In the name of aspiration, marketers continue to turn to those influential individuals who seem to exist on a different plane than most.

But is this concept helpful or hurtful? And when juxtaposed with the idea of inclusion and “realness” in today’s digital marketing, the idea of the out of reach beauty posting perfectly filtered photos may be reaching the end of its time.

But aspirational marketing still remains one of the cornerstones of marketing principles. Give consumers something to aspire to be — by purchasing this product, consumers can improve their lives. They can attract a partner. They can feel better about themselves. They can lose weight. They can be more attractive. All of these concepts are considered when creating marketing materials around the idea of aspiration.

The definition and look of this type of marketing is shifting, however. With platforms such as Facebook and Instagram beginning to test out features such as removing likes, the tone of aspirational marketing is beginning to look a bit different.

Aspiration is no longer synonymous with making a consumer feel lesser-than. While the same theme rings true — by purchasing a product or otherwise becoming a customer, the person’s life will somehow be improved or a problem will be solved — the theme of aspiration is more inclusive and less alienating.

What does this look like, exactly? Well, consider the example of Bon Appetit magazine, which is putting its editorial team front and center in an upcoming issue. Launching a full multi-platform campaign using their editors more like influencers, the magazine is seeking out a new kind of aspirational. Instead of relying heavily on existing influencers, why not tap into existing talent?

This look accomplishes different objectives. For one, it brings the content to a more relatable level. Seeing “real” people in campaigns (Dove’s body campaign is another example that comes to mind here) is more inspiring for consumers because they can see reflections of themselves in these materials. Just as the beauty industry standards are shifting away from otherworldly perfection to realistic depictions instead, other industries are taking notice of this trend.

This new breed of aspirational marketing ties in well with the current social conversations surrounding diversity and inclusivity. As more industries attempt to tackle the issue of social media and the internet’s general propensity for making users feel lesser than, marketing is following suit. While still presenting solutions to a problem or ways to improve one’s life, more brands are looking for authenticity in their aspirational marketing campaigns. This, in turn, resonates better with consumers who seek more genuine connections now than ever before. And this level of inclusion and thought outside of the box is one we can all aspire to get behind.

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.