Resonating with Consumers in an Ever Changing World
It’s an exciting and crazy time to be a consumer. It’s an even more exciting and crazier time to be a marketer. Consumers’ perceptions of brands are now formed by limitless influences, some stemming from the brand itself and others outside the brand’s control. This puts immense pressure on marketers and brand builders to stay on top of all the tangibles and intangibles that combine to form consumer beliefs. Let’s be sure we don’t lose sight of facets of the brand that are most valued and controllable. We’ve been partnering with many clients on Brand Health assessments lately. These assessments always demonstrate the multitude of brand components that make up brand equity and drive brand choice. When thinking about your brand’s health, be sure to keep these in mind.
Made Withs/Made Withouts: Consumers are paying much more attention to ingredients and the way products are made. Marketers have to evaluate the impact of calling out things products specifically include – for example, “With Probiotics” in consumables, “With Vitamin B” in personal care; and things products specifically exclude, such as, “Non-GMO” in consumables and “No Sodium Lauryl Sulfate” in personal care. This makes for labeling challenges because there’s only so much space on the front of a package. Try to be ahead of the consumer curve in this arena by constantly tracking what’s important to your core users and what may be important to them in a year or two.
We Believe: Value systems matter to consumers. Who your brand is and what it stands for now goes beyond what’s in the package. And value systems are what can catch fire (both good and bad) in consumers’ social media. Remember last year when Zappos offered free pet adoptions through Best Friend’s Animal Society from Black Friday through Cyber Monday? Animal (and shoe) lovers throughout the U.S. shared that time and time again on Facebook, Twitter, etc. It gave us all warm fuzzies about Zappos, halo-ing over to helping us believe they’re a company with a soul. Cleary few brands can afford something of this scale, but all brands can communicate a promise with heart. Your challenge is to find the promise that most aligns with your equity and product line. Consumers are very forthright in telling us what fits and what doesn’t with a brand if we ask them the right questions.
Shipping and Return Policies: “If it’s not free shipping and returns, it’s not for me.” This sentiment is shared time and time again about brands that have a strong ecommerce factor. It’s a key element in driving choice and loyalty. While consumers likely know that real “free shipping” doesn’t exist, they use it as a sign that the brand/company wants to make the purchase experience seamless. If your business model requires you to have an explicit shipping charge, ensure that your customer service team does everything in their power to make the consumer feel valued. Consider including a “thank you” note in the box with each purchase or perhaps redesigning your receipt so it’s gracious and on-brand.
Go forth marketer, and ensure your Brand Health is as strong as possible