All posts filed under: Consumers

Loyal – to what point?

As I write this, I’m sitting about six rows back from where I normally sit on this flight. The space around me feels like it has shrunk – again. They haven’t offered me the nice headphones. I didn’t get a newspaper like I used to. I’m not grizzling. After all, they’re such little things aren’t they? And they’re a formula. If you’re a gold flier you get this. If you fly even more frequently than that, you get this. The thing is that formula of recognition is now well entrenched in my flying experience. I’ve gotten used to it – to the point where I usually don’t even notice when it happens, but I very quickly notice when it doesn’t. That got me thinking – What happens when your business model clashes with the economics of rewarding your customers? What do you do when it seems like your brand can no longer afford to give people who buy from you the “bonuses” that they are so used to? First of all, I think it’s important …

Twinkle, twinkle, twinkle …

Markets today operate in a vicious circle of increasing assumption. The more companies deliver, the more customers expect. Business as expected is all the things you must do to confirm your place in the crowd. All that effort doesn’t inspire loyalty, it doesn’t even change the relationship, because it doesn’t change the way you’re seen. And yet it’s a critical underpin. If this part isn’t right, nothing works. We could probably debate how important this “constant and consistent improvement” element is, and it probably varies according to sectors, but I’m going to suggest that it constitutes 70 – 85% of a deeply competitive brand. The remaining 15 – 30% is less predictable. It has to be, because what really alters how much you are valued is what you deliver that’s surprising. Business as unexpected are those things that your customers actually want but may not even have realised they wanted – until they were presented with them. A surprise could be an idea they agree with that no-one else in the sector champions, an attitude …

Reading the minds of millions

Social markets, just like their financial counterparts, are driven by sentiment and the interactions of many. What’s being said about you now – right now – on Twitter, Facebook et al represents your likeability in real time. Some days you’ll trend up – meaning people generally feel good about you. At other times, the mass of opinion will be negative, impartial or absent. Same for your competitors. A spike in your Likes does not automatically correspond to a surge in your brand equity. Equally, a hail of comments is not necessarily a condemnation or an endorsement. It is a reaction. Understanding the sentiments behind these shifts in collective mood, quantifying them and responding to them is important – and yet what you’re seeing through your analytics feeds is often just momentary. They can mean as little as instant celebrity. Your brand is the subject of a meme – and then it’s not. The risk of reading too much into the numbers is that you essentially treat social media as polling booths for your brand strategy, …

Credentials as comfort food

How does the fact that I’m travelling on the world’s biggest airline change my travelling experience? Or the world’s biggest cruise liner? How does the fact that I’m working with the world’s biggest professional services firm change what I get from the lawyer, accountant, engineer etc assigned to me? What more do I get from buying a bottle from the world’s biggest winemaker? Or a toy from the world’s biggest department store? It makes no difference. And yet brands love to emphasise their size or the number of countries they operate in or the projects that they’ve been involved in. They think it provides reassurance. They think it gives them a storyline. It doesn’t. It gives them big numbers but in most cases, it says nothing at all. Credentials in my view are much over-used and much over-rated. They don’t add to the excitement that consumers feel. And, given the complexity of most corporate structures, it could be argued that they often don’t ameliorate the risk of dealing with many entities. Credentials might feel important …

Highs and lows: the new value equation in the social economy?

The dynamics of customer service are shifting. Not so long enough, the ultimate goal was to deliver customers “high tech, high touch” – a highly digital experience that was nevertheless comforting and personalised. Increasingly that framework is becoming a paradox I believe as brands sort new economic models for dealing with cross-channel customers. The current trend of sift online, buy offline is unsustainable in so many circumstances. High tech is jeopardising the economics of high touch. It encourages customers to price hunt, and then to bargain down prices in a physical environment using what they’ve found online as a cost index. The implied “plus” between high tech and high touch doesn’t work. So I think we’re going to increasingly see it change to “or”. And with that shift will come more delineated choices for consumers. Brands will seek to attract customers by experience or by engagement. In fact, the separation of those two thoughts – engagement (focused on cost conscious availability) and experience (focused on one-on-one immediacy) is interesting because it suggests that rather than …

How good are you at saying goodbye?

Brands and customers part company for all sorts of reasons. Relationships are tidal. We outgrow the need for a brand or product, our tastes or priorities shift, we don’t live where we lived or work where we worked or spend our time doing what we used to do all the time, perhaps we decide to pass on the latest upgrade. And, objectively, that’s a healthy thing. Those ebbs and flows provide markets with movement. They ensure that new players can enter and gain new customers and current players can change their position in a sector as they gain or lose followers. Wish them well Most brands have their heads around winning new customers. They seem less certain on how to say goodbye with good grace. But how you do that can, in the longer run, and in the context of your brand, be as important as how you welcome customers in the first place. Wishing them well on the next stage of their journey, and assisting them to start that stage in the best light, …

Why women are driving the rethinking of the sales model (amongst other things)

It’s extraordinary how so much has been made of the emergence of China and India and of the impact of new technology on the world’s economic wellbeing – and yet a factor bigger than either of these dynamics has been largely ignored. The rise in the participation of women in the economy through full-time work – an economic force I refer to as “femonomics” – has contributed more to economic growth than either Asia or online globally, and yet the attention this has received pales in comparison to the space devoted to Silicon Valley and the rise of the subcontinent and the Red Dragon. In the US, the input of women in the paid workforce has risen from just 20 percent in the early 20th century to close to 50 percent today, and it is still rising. According to Gerry Myers, American women now earn, control, and spend trillions of dollars annually. In fact, they are responsible for a whopping 80 – 85 percent of all purchasing decisions. So it’s amazing that so many marketers …

This is your captain speaking …

Just over six years ago, I wrote a post about the futility of pilot announcements. In it, I asked: “Why do pilots always insist on giving us details of the flight plan and our intended altitude? Because, to be perfectly honest, I don’t really care how high we’re flying or the course we’re taking – just as long as we get there. I just need to know they’re present and correct, and in an appropriate state of body and mind to do their job. And besides I have no way of knowing whether it really is 27,000 feet or not, so what’s the point in telling me? …” Every brand would like to tell their audience more about what they do. They like to think that explaining in detail how hard they work and how much they know quantifies the value they add. But what it really amounts to is the brand having a “conversation” with its customers on terms it feels comfortable with. It’s smalltalk, disguised as information. The pilots probably aren’t iinterested. They …

New article: 5 things to do when social media reacts to you

Imagine being flashmobbed. Suddenly hundreds of people run into your reception area with chocolates and flowers and sing a song in your honour. What would you do? Or a crowd appears at your company’s gate and each person there shakes their fist and jeers everyone entering the building. Then, just as quickly, they’re gone. It happens a lot. To firms all over the world. Not literally of course. On Facebook, on Twitter, on YouTube. Brands are hit by a wave of emotion, good or bad, that rolls in, and then recedes, leaving everyone affected breathless and confused. What the hell just happened? The force at work is “critical mass”: the impact that many, many people can have when moving together, with purpose, towards a singular point. It can last minutes, hours, days. It can generate smiles and business, or scandal and significant losses. It can transform people and brands into heroes or villains, celebrities or scandals. Whilst I think a lot of us continue to search for a credible return on investment model for brands …