By Malaika Fernandes, Consumer Director, Atteline

‘Connected Consumers’ has been identified as one of eight megatrends by Euromonitor International to watch through 2030. With almost half of the global population using the internet as of 2017 and three-fourths by 2030, connected consumers can access information at their fingertips, and they are no longer passive recipients of marketing messages but active participants in the decision-making process. As consumers are now becoming specialists, can communication functions still be generalist?

The conventional debate of “is it better to be a specialist or a generalist?” continues amongst PR and marketing professionals. Still, in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, we have a compelling argument to stand with specialisms and invest the necessary time, money and resources to carve a niche for our agency and teams. With products and services becoming increasingly nuanced, answering specific consumer needs, whether in beauty, tech or healthcare, and consumers growing more sophisticated and discerning, specialised public relations consultancy has never been more crucial. 

Adapting Strategies for the Connected Consumer

The digital age empowers consumers with choice and enables marketers to target specific audiences through highly effective tools. Communications businesses must adapt to this shift brought on by connected consumers to understand the mindset of this new breed of informed individuals with purchase power through focus groups, surveys, sentiment and behaviour audits, and more to refine their offerings, inform strategies, and build the expertise that gives them the legs to withstand this surging demand for tailored communication. At Atteline, we specialise in select B2C communications disciplines on the Consumer team and live and breathe the industry, knowing as much, if not more, than our clients and developing strategies that engage and resonate with these savvy consumers, effectively ensuring our messages are not only informative and valuable but also impactful and compelling. 

The Increasingly Targeted Comms Approach

Communication agencies have recognised the power of data and technology in reaching their target audiences. With advanced tools for audience segmentation, social listening, customised research and insights, integrated agencies are becoming more specialised and targeted in their approach. For example, when talking to luxury consumers in the UAE, we at Atteline recommend hosting curated and experiential brand events; however, in KSA, this strategy is adapted to focus on more intimate co-hosted events with key opinion leaders while considering the cultural and religious sensitivities of our guests in the market. 

By specialising in a particular area of communication, practitioners gain a deeper understanding of their target audience, industry, and the media landscape, enabling them to effectively navigate the complex business landscape, develop relationships with key industry stakeholders, tailor their messaging to resonate with decision-makers, and also navigate how and where to share the message.

The Role of Technology in Comms

Technology plays a pivotal role in the modern communications landscape. From social media platforms to data analytics tools, technology enables communications professionals to gather insights, track performance, and engage with audiences on a deeper level. Specialists who embrace technology and develop expertise in leveraging tools like Artificial Intelligence, Talkwalker, etc., will be better equipped to drive successful campaigns. I recently heard a panel speaker say that AI is just another team member around the table whose talents are leveraged for the success of the campaign, a reality far from the one where AI takes over jobs in the industry! Practitioners can effectively navigate the digital landscape, understand emerging trends, and leverage technology to amplify their clients’ messages.

Healthcare, Sustainability and Luxury-Focused Specialisations

The healthcare industry is highly regulated and requires specialised knowledge to navigate its unique challenges. Professionals specialising in healthcare communications can develop an in-depth understanding of the industry’s intricacies, including regulatory requirements, ethical considerations, and the complexities of communicating sensitive medical information. By becoming experts in healthcare PR, practitioners can promote health-related products, manage crises, and build trust among patients, healthcare providers, and the general public. Luxury brands, on the other hand, operate in a distinct space, also requiring a tailored communications approach. Professionals specialising in luxury-focused communications understand the nuances of the luxury market, the target audience’s aspirations, and the brand’s unique value proposition. The specialised knowledge and understanding of the luxury landscape will enable communications practitioners to effectively communicate the brand’s heritage, craftsmanship, and uniqueness to discerning consumers. By developing expertise in luxury PR, professionals can create exclusive experiences, cultivate brand loyalty, and maintain the brand’s premium image. Professionals specialising in sustainability need expertise in navigating complex environmental regulations, ethical considerations, and stakeholder engagement related to sustainability initiatives. Sustainability-focused professionals promote sustainable practices and products, communicate transparently about ecological impact, and manage crises related to sustainability issues. They understand the intricacies of sustainability reporting, carbon footprint reduction, waste management, and renewable energy initiatives. They can effectively position their clients as leaders in sustainable business practices by staying updated on industry trends and best practices. These three sectors have significantly changed in the last few years due to evolving consumer knowledge, perception, and demands.

As the GCC marketing landscape continues to evolve alongside consumer behaviour, specialisation in public relations has become essential for communications professionals to stay relevant, successful, and stand out from the general pack. Thinking back to the quote, “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but often better than a master of one”, while it benefits specific industries, as professionals, our job is to be strategic consultants for clients and an authority in our specialisms. By specialising in B2C, B2B, technology, healthcare, or luxury-focused communications, communications professionals can develop the expertise needed to engage effectively with their target audiences, navigate industry-specific challenges, and leverage the power of technology. Embracing specialisation will allow practitioners to meet the demands of the connected age and ensure their continued success in the dynamic landscape.

Communications agencies must wholeheartedly embrace refined disciplines across the B2C and B2B landscape, upskilling talent and making this an integral part of their business model. The job still entails discovering innovative methods of communicating with the audience and telling captivating stories that deeply connect, albeit in a more specialised manner. By doing so, we can ensure continued success and relevance in the future.