The world of marketing is changing, and not just because of the rise of social media. Consumers are becoming more discerning than ever, and they’re not afraid to show it. Competition is rife today, and to stand out, brands need to pull out all the stops. Collaboration is the new way brands compete.
When brands collaborate, they don’t compete against one another. In fact, they work together to accomplish common goals. Think of it as a partnership between two or more brands, each of which contributes something unique to the partnership. Instead of a zero-sum game, collaboration offers brands more opportunities than competition.
Collaboration over competition is a brand behaviour that’s sweeping the industry. Today, more and more brands are shifting from pitting brands against one another to working together to accomplish common goals. This new brand behaviour focuses on what brands can accomplish together, and not on what brands can do alone.
Let’s take a look at the reasons why this shift is happening, and what it means for brands today and tomorrow.
The Rise of Collaboration
Internet and social media have turbocharged the ability for brands to connect with their audiences. In the past, a brand might have had to go to great lengths to connect with their customers. Today, brands can talk to their customers without ever leaving their desks. This has exploded the reach of brands and the types of conversations they can have with their audiences.
The rise of collaboration also ties into consumer behaviour trends. Consumers are discerning, and they’re more likely to try something new if they can compare it to something they’ve tried before. The Internet and social media have given consumers the ability to compare experiences. It’s easy to get a sense of how other people are using a product or service and what they think of it. This has made it easier for consumers to try something new.
Why Is Collaboration Over Competition Happening?
In the past, brands competed against one another to stand out. When brands competed, there was no room for collaboration. Brands vied for attention, fought for sales, and competed against one another for consumers’ attention. Brands didn’t sit down and figure out how to work together to accomplish common goals.
There’s only so much attention, sales, and attention to go around and brands have come to learn that they can’t all win. When brands competed, they didn’t think twice about using suboptimal methods to win the game. They didn’t think about how they could work together to accomplish common goals.
What Does This Shift in Brand Behaviour Mean for Brands?
Consumers are looking for experiences they can connect to. These experiences don’t have to be in-store or online—they can be anywhere between two people talking, two people experiencing, or two people enjoying a brand’s products or services.
The rise of collaboration means that instead of just selling a product, brands can connect with their customers on a deeper level. Instead of just discussing a product on social media, brands can create user-generated content that goes way beyond the typical customer testimonial.
These are examples of how brands can collaborate with one another to create authentic connections with their customers. These connections will resonate more deeply with consumers and drive sales.
Examples of Collaboration
Following are just a few examples of brands working together to accomplish common goals.
Ford x Tinder
Car giant Ford had a unique Brand Collaboration with one of the biggest dating apps of today’s time Tinder with an objective to promote its latest offerings to the young generation and enhancing the brand value and customer base. The collaboration involved selecting 5 couples for a carpool karaoke style blind date in their very famous offering Ford Mustang.
Uber x Spotify
Uber is the very famous ride-hailing app and Spotify is the music streaming app and both the brands came forward for the Brand Collaboration as they share similar goals of innovation and cater to the same target audience. The customers waiting for their Uber ride to arrive were presented with the option of connecting to the Spotify and becoming a DJ for their trip by creating a playlist of their choice and enjoy the same during the course of the ride.
Warby Parker x Arby’s
Warby Parker and Arby’s teamed up for a fashion collab based on their similar names, putting out a line of WArby’s merchandise. A pair of glasses with a meat marbling pattern and a “Nice to Meat You” tote bag were among the wacky collection. While some thought the team-up was a bit too much of a joke, the brands did cater to cause-driven young consumers by donating proceeds to VisionSpring and No Kid Hungry. And while the premise may have been to get a laugh, the line quickly sold out.
Dove x Netflix
Recently, Dove partnered with Netflix to produce a short film about body image. In the film, a woman says she’s not sure why she’s like she is, but she knows she’s not supposed to change herself. This resonated with Dove’s brand mission, and the result was a positive body image message from one of the world’s largest brands.
McDonalds x Chipotle
In the food industry, McDonald’s has partnered with Chipotle to create McWrap sandwiches. The McWrap is a wrap that includes a portion of salad, and Chipotle beans. Chipotle has also partnered with Yum! Brands to develop Keto Salsa. This low-carb salsa is an alternative to traditional salsa, but it’s still delicious.
These examples show that collaboration is possible across all industries and business models. And in some cases, it seems the more disparate the brands involved, the more alluring the collaboration.There is no reason why brands can’t work together to accomplish common goals and create memorable and authentic connections with their customers.
It’s clear that young consumers are interested in seeing the brands they know think outside the box and create something new with an unexpected partner. In fact, 55% of Gen Z and Millennials tell us that brands who partner with startups are innovative, and 45% say they would like to see their favorite brands take on other industries.
The Benefits of Collaboration
The benefits of collaboration for brands are numerous.
Firstly, brands can feel more authentic and sincere because they aren’t trying to compete against each other.
Second, collaboration can help brands solve problems together. When one brand is the problem, another brand can be the solution. And when two brands work together, they can achieve more than either brand could achieve alone.
Collaboration can be a great way to strengthen relationships with customers and tie them to your brand in new ways. For example, Samsung partnered with the UnitedHealthcare Professional cycling team to create an immersive virtual experience for cycling fans. By inviting fans to “ride along” with the team, Samsung tapped into a long-term interest in cycling and fans’ desire to feel connected to their favourite athletes. This partnership allowed Samsung to reach new fans and strengthen its relationship with existing fans in a unique way. Furthermore, by inviting fans to join the team, UnitedHealthcare created an authentic and sincere experience for fans, while tapping into a loyal, long-term interest in cycling and delivering content that fans actually wanted.
How to Harness the Power of Collaboration
When brands shift from competition to collaboration, they must be intentional about how they position themselves and the partnership. For example, to harness the power of collaboration, brands need to think deeply about how they want to be perceived. With this in mind, they can identify who they want to partner with and what they want the partner to contribute. With the partnership in mind, brands can create the right content to bring their partners to life.
As we’ve seen, the competition between brands is fading. To stand out in this shift in brand behaviour, brands must make collaboration a priority.
But how do you bring this brand behaviour to life? By questioning what you do, not who you do it with. With so many options for collaboration today, it’s easy for brands to get carried away with too many partnerships. The key is to go with the right partners, in the right amounts.