'Humaning' is the latest marketing buzzword, thanks to Mondelēz
It’s time to recognize that people who buy products are—wait for it—humans.
That's the new mantra of Mondelēz International, which has cooked up a marketing approach it calls “humaning.” What the heck does that mean?
“Humaning is a unique, consumer-centric approach to marketing that creates real, human connections with purpose, moving Mondelēz International beyond cautious, data-driven tactics, and uncovering what unites us all,” the snack marketer announced in a statement. “We are no longer marketing to consumers, but creating connections with humans.” (Before you ask, those italics came from the company.)
OK, so the maker of Belvita biscuits, Ritz crackers, Sour Patch Kids and lots of other snacks would like to forge relationships that go beyond transactions. It wants to formally announce its desire to come out with campaigns that inspire people to do more than snarf a full sleeve of Oreo cookies after a stressful day.
That’s fine. The world could use some feel-good messaging, particularly in 2020.
But why in humanity is “humaning” being added to the marketing buzzword mix? And does the world really need another new term just weeks after the phrase "brands for humans" was doing the rounds at ANA's Masters of Marketing event?
Mondelēz already does plenty of what others might call purpose-driven marketing. Purpose has long been a buzzword in the industry. It’s shorthand for the types of creative work plenty of consultants and surveys suggest people are ready to see: things that make them feel better about which brands they choose to support with their dollars.
Mondelēz is also tying this “humaning” push to show the work it is doing to improve the diversity and inclusion within its organization and within its ads. It’s joining Unstereotype Alliance, which aims to get rid of harmful stereotypes in media and ad content. It’s also signing with FreeTheWork, which helps marketers find creators who are underrepresented. That's all work that can be done without a new buzzword.
“People are craving connection and a human experience from brands—particularly in what has proven to be an incredibly unusual year,” Martin Renaud, Mondelēz’s global chief marketing officer, said in a statement. “We want to make brands, campaigns, initiatives, and a culture of humaning that truly connects with consumers as people and genuinely has an impact on the world around us."
What does “a human experience” or a “culture of humaning” entail?
Yes, people, who are humans, enjoy snacks together. Some nice people have even been spending more time sharing their Oreos at home during the pandemic or even sending them as gifts to people they can’t see in person right now. The company even did a survey last month and found that snacking has continued during the pandemic.
There’s lots of data to, um, digest, in the company’s new “State of Snacking” report. Globally, 46% of adults admitted they’re snacking more and 42% saying they are snacking the same as they did before the pandemic.
Parse the data however you want, but it doesn’t feel like something that needs a completely new marketing approach. Because, guess what? People are already buying the products. Mondelēz’s so-called organic revenue rose 4.4% in the third quarter, even with impulse purchases severely limited due to COVID-19, and topping the 4.2% growth in the same period a year earlier.
Whatever marketers want to call potential buyers of their products, they are—until robots take over—humans. There’s no need to verbify the act of being human and give it a new name.
Still, there’s precedent here. Mondelēz was concocted to convey the idea of a “delicious world,” as Ad Age wrote when the snack maker’s moniker was unveiled in 2012. “Monde” evokes the Latin word for “world” and “delez” conveys “delicious.”
That’s right: it’s a corporate name with, one might say, a purpose.