Have brands lost sight of their power to shape consumer demand?
New research from Dentsu Aegis Network, highlights how many brands have lost some of their power to shape consumer demand as a result of their pursuit of personalisation. And in trying to meet every individual need, they’ve often diluted their own identity.
Developed in collaboration with Longitude (a Financial Times company) and drawing on interviews with industry experts, Dentsu’s latest report finds that many bold brands are now reasserting themselves, deepening consumer relationships across five key dimensions. Some of the key findings of the research include the following points:
Create shared experiences: We live in an era where ‘Everyone’s an Expert. Consumers choose their influences and influencers and they’re choosing to listen to them over and above the message’s brands have selected because of the shared experience created with others guided in the same direction. What’s more, the digital economy has given consumers the ability to choose the time, the place and even the device in which they receive these messages – the shared experience does not need to be shared at the same time for it to have a collective appeal. Brands can steer customer purchasing by capitalising on shared experiences and the power of influencers.
Make it easy: Do consumers actually want less, not more, choice? It is paradoxical but the more choice consumers have, the harder it is for them to decide, and the less likely they are to buy. The rise of the subscription business model is testament to this paradox. Brands who look to create bundles of services or products have the advantage that the consumer feels less of a ‘decision’ barrier to beginning the relationship and completing a purchase.
Solve human problems: “Great brands solve a customer’s problem before they know they have them,” says Johnny Devitt, CMO, DAZN. Brands that make life simple and show an understanding of needs and motivations will be respected and even loved.
Choose words carefully: The first step to solving a problem is knowing what the problem is. That requires listening to what the market is saying. Presenting something new that solves problems and satisfies desires the customer was not aware of breeds a sense of authenticity—even authority—around a brand. However, there is a fine balance, consumers want to feel that they have a say in how the products they buy are produced. Essentially, they want to be listened to, but they don’t want to do all the talking.
Open up brands: In a time of increasing scepticism, closer customer relationships can be forged through transparency – People need to feel they can trust the brands they are interacting with to build positive associations.
According to Dave Winterlich, chief strategy officer, Dentsu Aegis Network Ireland: “The findings in the research ring true in Ireland as much as anywhere else and we’re seeing the same trends emerge. Some of these things are nothing new, they are just basic human truths reimagined for a more digital society. Sociability is a basic human need, social media is a platform that facilitates this and removes geographical or proximity boundaries. Shared experiences in life, culture and even communications bond people but today marketers rely less on those shared live collective experiences, which although they are huge events tend to carry significant premia in cost,”
Winterlich adds that “we live in a world where we have an abundance of choice whether that’s products, brands, things to do or content. Brands need to help make choice easier for people, we see decision paralysis set in for things like travel when people need to decide where they should go before they start planning a trip.
“We do a lot of work with Aer Lingus to curate content and provide destination inspiration, the role the brand plays here is to act as a helpful guide given the abundance of choice and price available, this job is increasingly complex so we look to machine learning to help piece the various components of the jigsaw together so it’s personalised to the individual based on their interests. The brand has to have a certain level of trust and that trust must be earned over time,” he says.
“Similarly, on solving human problems, if we take travel, people are so time poor that the annual holiday is too precious to waste, a problem a brand can solve is to de-risk that by giving them an insight to new places, curating content from people they trust maybe. Brands need to be open and honest, they need to involve consumers in conversations. We’ve had clients who were nervous about engaging in social media campaigns, worried that they would open pandora’s box to a world of negative sentiment, mostly it doesn’t happen once you engage people in a tone fitting for your brand and your audience. Brands jumping on cultural trends and trying to force their way into the conversation never goes well. When engaging consumers in anything, particularly social channels, you should tread carefully, as a brand so you have any right to talk about this subject matter, it all goes back to what you stand for as a brand and as long as you stay true to that it’s usually received well.”