March 30, 2023

Why “New Year, New You” is the Worst-Performing Retail Digital Marketing Campaign


retail digital marketing campaign

People have long been fascinated by the idea of reinvention. It’s an alluring concept. But, is reinvention an effective approach to a retail digital marketing campaign? Does it have a positive effect on consumers, boost conversions, and ultimately sales? The answer might surprise you. 

Persado data shows that in retail digital marketing campaigns between 2015 to 2022 (5,696 message permutations), “new year, new you” was the worst-performing phrase across channels, including email, social media, and push notifications, when tested against other messaging. That’s seven years of data showing that this common phrase fails to inspire much action in the form of brand engagement. Research shows that fewer Americans are even making New Year’s resolutions. According to Forbes, more people now prioritize mental health over physical changes when making New Year’s resolutions. Retail brands might want to exile “new year, new you” from their digital marketing campaigns. But first, it’s important to understand the reasons why today’s retail shoppers aren’t buying in. 

What is your retail digital marketing campaign communicating? 

Marketers need to pay close attention to the message their digital marketing campaigns send and how the language they use makes customers feel. Shopping can be an emotional experience. The words brands use across the customer journey evoke emotions that motivate customers to act … or not. Words aren’t just part of the user experience. In many ways, they ARE the user experience. Words connect brands to customers in an innately human way. 

Persado provides the only Motivation AI platform that generates personalized language at scale. We use Generative AI to create messaging that personalizes the digital experience across every stage of the multichannel customer journey and motivates customers to engage and act. Our enterprise-grade Generative AI creates content that is proven to perform based on over a decade of marketing message data and billions of customer interactions. 25% of adults in the US have received digital marketing messages generated by Persado Motivation AI.  

In an analysis of 21.6 billion consumer impressions from email marketing campaigns sent throughout 2022, the Persado Content Intelligence team identified the top 10 best-performing and least-performing words and phrases. The lowest-performing ones like “don’t miss out” and “last chance” evoked negative feelings of scarcity and the need to put in additional effort. The same goes for “new year, new you.” In a retail digital marketing campaign, it suggests that the customer is flawed in some way and needs to invest effort, time, and resources to improve themselves. With those emotions at play, it’s no wonder customers don’t take action. 

Cultural shifts further explain why “new year, new you” digital marketing campaigns tank in retail 

Let’s face it: “New year, new you” is a cliché. Brands have used it, friends and family have said it, and maybe you’ve even said it to yourself. It’s been overused in marketing and in conversation. There’s also more behind the low performance of this phrase in digital marketing campaigns.

Consumer sentiments are changing at a faster rate than ever before. Based on recent movements and massive cultural shifts, the tone and connotations of “new year, new you” are outdated and don’t support the needs or values of today’s inclusive, diverse, and body positive consumer. 

A recent McKinsey report details the rise of the inclusive consumer, who skew younger, tend to be female, and are more racially diverse than previous generations of consumers. The inclusive customer, however, also includes both men and women across various ethnic backgrounds, income levels, and age groups. Their beauty standards have evolved with cultural shifts toward body positivity, mental health, inclusivity, and diversity. 

Exclusivity is out and inclusivity is in

Many brands that once relied on exclusivity have successfully rebranded to reach the inclusive consumer. Throughout the late 1990s to the early 2000s, Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) played up exclusivity and lacked diversity. Their previous marketing strategies along with A&F’s revolutionary rebranding were profiled in the Netflix documentary White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch. Today, forward-thinking brands (including A&F) reach consumers by appealing to present-day social values of inclusivity, sustainability, and diversity. The inclusive beauty movement has also transformed the beauty industry with more racially diverse product options, gender-neutral makeup, and more. In addition to more diverse product options, marketing in the beauty industry has gone from aspirational to inspirational as beauty brands that bring diversity to their marketing over rigid beauty standards experience brand growth. 

Top DTC brands like Good American, SKIMS, and Summersalt are leaders in inclusive marketing and practices. They put inclusivity, body positivity, and diversity at the center of their marketing by offering a range of sizes and using models of diverse backgrounds, body types, and ages. These brands all emerged between 2016 and 2019. In a short time, they’ve experienced tremendous growth and brand recognition. Even Victoria’s Secret recently rebranded in response to falling sales and changing cultural norms. 

Unlike the inclusive, body positive marketing strategies that today’s retail consumers respond well to, “new year, new you” alludes to inadequacy and promotes traditional standards of beauty. 

Which words and emotions result in high-performing digital marketing campaigns?

So what should your next digital marketing campaign say to get your customers to act? Consumer sentiments change constantly and different messaging performs best on different channels and with different audiences. What worked for your brand a couple years ago may now have the opposite effect. While there is no sure one-size-fits-all answer, the Persado Content Intelligence team found that long-term value and gratitude recently resonated best with consumers. 

Winning digital marketing language in fashion and retail according to our 2023 Customer Motivation Report included “Tried and true” and “You’re going to reach for this again and again (and again).” For more insights into today’s consumer and the brand messages that resonate with them, check out the full report

Consumers want to feel good about themselves and their purchases. They want to be reassured that they’ve made a smart decision by investing in something they will use for a long time. Today’s customers respond to quality and longevity at far higher rates than they do to the latest sale, fleeting deal, or the desire to reinvent themselves. They also want to feel like the brands they are loyal to appreciate them and their business. 

Request a demo to discover how Persado Motivation AI helps brands personalize messaging across the digital experience and stay ahead of changing consumer sentiments. 

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