Posts tagged "customer relationships"

Customer experience impacts brand preference

Wondering what the #1 Priority is for Brand Selection?

July 7th, 2021 Posted by brand advocacy, brand marketing, brand strategy, consumer behavior, Consumer insight, Customer Experience, Insight, Personalization 0 comments on “Wondering what the #1 Priority is for Brand Selection?”

International survey confirms path to brand preference decision

Where should you place your bets for growth? Is it optimal product technology or top-of-mind brand awareness? While these issues remain important, they are not the number one driver of brand choice and preference according to a recent Ipsos study of 8,000 consumers in the U.S., UK, France and Germany. Read on for the reveal.

The study exposes a significant strategic weakness

The Ipsos report laid bare a decided absence of customer-centrism in how businesses operate. For all the sermonizing about the importance of consumers to brands and business growth, it is interesting that so few know the real details of their customer’s lifestyle needs, wants, aspirations and behaviors. This insight is required to build deeper brand relevance and personalization, two components of optimal strategy that surfaced from the survey conclusions.

It appears that CPG businesses, especially legacy brands, are constructed primarily around a focused model that is systemically preoccupied with product development, operations, manufacturing, distribution infrastructure, supply chain, sales/marketing and cost management of same. Appears it may be tough for an older dog to learn new tricks.

  • “Customer first” is a relatively new trend in business management, seen more often in digitally-native brands where the entire proposition was invented on the back of laser-focused consumer relevance and ongoing interactive conversation and experimentation.

Further it is more difficult for marketing to connect and engage without heartbeat-level insight into those you wish to sell to – their lives and lifestyles. Relevance in brand communication is nourished by an uncanny sense of what matters to the user’s personal aspirations and needs. “You get me” and “you help me to ________” are ultimately more important in consumer-brand relationship construction than an awesome product, which is now table-stakes on the list of consumer expectations.

Here’s where to invest if sustainable growth is a priority for you and your organization:

The survey confirmed customer experience is the number one motivator of brand selection!

  • 77% of consumers choose a brand based on positive experience.
  • 64% will avoid a brand based on a bad experience.
  • Women (66%), Millennials (70%) and GenZ (68%) are most likely to head for the exits after a bad experience.

In fact, brand switching starts to gain traction after just one bad experience. Moreover, negative experiences and unresolved issues are also catalysts for dissatisfied word-of-mouth and social channel sharing.

  • Interestingly, the fastest growing consumer cohort now is 55+ and also the most ignored, given historic brand preoccupation with wooing younger audiences. That’s leaving big business on the table!

Here’s some added texture on the survey findings

  • Consumers do research ahead of a purchase, so anticipation is higher right out of the gate.
  • They expect to receive a seamless, friction-free and positive experience with your brand.
  • Brand recognition and stellar product technology is important but not the decider.
  • Customer experience is the tipping point on brand selection decisions.
  • Failure to understand customer needs is the critical, pivotal Achilles’ heel.

U.S. consumers, especially, are looking for personalization and real-time responsiveness on their questions including chat options with a live agent not a bot. In fact, more than 40% of consumers want personalized solutions based on a granular understanding of their interests, buying behaviors, demographics and psychographics.

Retail everywhere

The study demonstrates the incredibly important opportunity brands have to add value at all touchpoints along the path to purchase, whether online or at the store. For consumers, the channel is irrelevant with respect to expectations. They believe it should be friction free, simple and helpful no matter where they purchase.

  • What’s often missing is an embedded view that customer needs and wants come first rather than the company serving its own operational quirks or self-protective policies.

With consumer /user experience being a pivotal moment on the path to purchase and repurchase, it only stands to reason it must be served with skill and intuitive judgment on addressing the customer’s wants. Thus ongoing, always-on investment in consumer insight is a required commitment to make all of this work successfully for sustainable brand growth.

If you’re looking for deeper insight and fresh strategic thinking on the path to improved consumer experience, use this link to start an informal conversation.

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Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, The Healthy Living Agency. Traditional brand marketing often sidesteps more human qualities that can help consumers form an emotional bond. Yet brands yearn for authentic engagement, trust and a lasting relationship with their customers. Emergent helps brands erase ineffective self-promotion and replace it with clarity, honesty and deeper meaning in their customer relationships and communication. For more information, contact [email protected] and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.


Lucky brand not so lucky anymore

January 19th, 2017 Posted by Brand preference, Retail brand building, shopper experience, Uncategorized 3 comments on “Lucky brand not so lucky anymore”

Retail experience paramount to brand relationship

I love this quote – it demonstrates how quickly things can dramatically change:

“In twenty minutes you can sink a battleship, down three or four planes, hold a double execution. You can die, get married, get fired and find a new job, have a tooth pulled, have your tonsils out. In twenty minutes you can even get up in the morning. You can get a glass of water at a night club – maybe.” Raymond Chandler, Farewell My Lovely

You can destroy ten years of retail equity and loyalty in five minutes. Failed policies and poor training can set in motion what we affectionately refer to as the spiraling vortex of doom.

Retail is experiencing one of the biggest relevance squeezes in history as more demanding consumers grow less tolerant of missteps and violations of the customer-comes-first code. Too many options exist now and choices abound, especially online, waiting in the wings to rescue consumers from bad retail behaviors. Here’s a poster child example…

Jeans. I wear them everyday, and for the shift to casual attire in business I thank the gods of cultural change. So jeans are a thing for me – an essential wardrobe component and thus a sartorial priority. I care about my jeans.

I have been a decade-long exclusive and devoted customer of the Lucky brand of jeans. I like the fit, the price, the color options – and their retail store is just a few minutes from my home – so convenient. For these attributes I have rewarded Lucky with my jean purchases for more than 10 years.

I recently got a pair of Lucky jeans as a gift from my wife, who knows my preferences for the brand. But the size wasn’t right and the fit choice not my favorite. So I went back to the store to exchange for another style. The clerk saw me walk in with my pair of jeans in hand and the scowl on her face suggested she might not be pleased to see me.

I explained my need and she asked for a sales receipt. I said I didn’t have one as it was a gift. But all the assorted tags and stickers were still affixed including price tag thus it was clearly a brand new, never worn pair. I further explained that I just wanted to exchange for another style and would be happy to pay any price difference as needed. She said she couldn’t help me because no jeans of the size I wanted existed in the store.

Now please know I’m not a doormat in these situations, and made it clear I would like to find a solution. So the manager is enlisted – he tells me the store location is closing, that remaining inventory is to be sold off and thus why my size isn’t and won’t be available. I ask for a credit I can use for an online purchase.

He says he can only give me $12 (they cost $100) for the jeans because that’s the policy when closing out store inventory. The discussion goes on as I attempt to talk them into finding a creative way to make me, their decade long faithful customer, happy. Nothing doing. I said: so you’re telling me I’m screwed? Manager: pretty much. I left with my wrong jeans in hand. It was policy he said that dictated the intransigence.

Most of the time we don’t consider the where’s and why’s of our loyal behavior other than the ability to execute a pleasing purchase. Within five short minutes the friction filled in-store experience abruptly ended 10 years of brand preference and loyalty. I wondered how many other customers had been ‘touched’ by this unlucky brand of policy punishment.

If customers are merely walking wallets and the relationship is purely transactional then the future will belong to e-tailing where algorithms remove the human issues. If retail is to be successful, customer relationships must be looked upon with the greatest respect and cherished completely end-to-end in operations and the care and feeding of customer experience.

In my case, the ‘surprise and delight’ of previous retail experiences at Lucky turned to ‘frustration and consternation.’ Good luck, Lucky…

The recipe for improvement here begins with drinking at the cultural well of customer devotion. When the company ethos and mission are embedded in building lasting relationships with those that walk in the door, the behaviors at point of sale will go more smoothly through the ups and downs of business change.

Training can’t be underestimated or underplayed as a vital link in cultivating the right customer experience. Well-trained employees present the face of the brand and influence the perception of value and being valued. Finally, policies can help or ultimately destroy brand reputations. Policies that are not customer-friendly virtually guarantee outcomes of unhappiness and separation.

Jeans are not purchased; happiness is. And unless this concept of where value truly exists takes root fully inside retail organizations, it will be harder to keep the brick and mortar system healthy in the face of online convenience and frictionless digital purchase.

Brand franchises are built on the feelings people have while in the presence of a brand or retail banner – so this key factor in the relationship should be respected.

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Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, the healthy living agency. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies.  Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact [email protected] and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

Marketing Strategy and Customer Relationships

Key to Marketing Plan Success: Mining Current Customer Relationships

November 30th, 2015 Posted by Growth, Insight, Retail brand building, Uncategorized 0 comments on “Key to Marketing Plan Success: Mining Current Customer Relationships”
You know the old adage, “If I had a dollar for every…”

Well, that phrase couldn’t be more true when it comes to the number of times I’ve observed clients make new customer acquisition the priority and strategic center for brand marketing campaigns.

There’s a natural allure and nearly reflexive assumption embedded in marketing-think that recruiting new followers and believers to a brand is the first order of business. Reach new customers and then sell more product, right?

Well, at the risk of making a heretical statement from an agency executive, I say no.