What Women Want: Brand Buying Power in 2016 and Beyond

The percentage of purchases decided by women translates into a staggering $18 trillion in earnings worldwide for businesses.

 

More than half of key purchasing decisions are made by women today, product or service. The question is have you tailored your brand to meet their needs? Does the positioning, style, story, tone and focus of your brand messaging capture their attention in a way that’s truly relevant to them? Have you factored in meeting the needs for the discerning female factor if you’re going to successfully capture the attention of this very influential audience and convert their attention into growing sales?

 

Female Factor Bloomberg 600px

Image via www.bloomberg.com

 

 

With more women in the workforce, the increase in female purchasing power has significantly changed the market and consequently how successful brands engage with them. Only recently, a friend who works with Audi, mentioned how the brand is now considerably more female centric in its focus, brand strategy and how they engage this very discerning audience in their various showrooms, together with the rest of their overall brand strategy. The reason is simple, women are now becoming their primary buyers — “they don’t have to go home and ask their husbands, or significant other, about which car to buy, they simply take out their credit card and pay”. Since women make 85% of all purchase decisions today, this is not hard to fathom anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

Whether we realize it or not we live and work in an “experience economy”, so identifying, understanding and connecting with the changing needs of your shifting female audience, on their terms, is essential to your brand success.

 

Take for example, the Super Bowl adverts in the U.S. They’re not just about the ballgame and beer anymore. In 2015 the Super Bowl was seen by 114 million viewers, together with all the advertising campaigns run in conjunction with the big event. As per Nielsen reports, 47% of these viewers, which is close to 54 million, were women. Clearly, the old brand strategies of the past are not going to work with this more selective audience today. Brand strategy, design, management and execution has to change to meet the needs, preferences and demands of these increasingly influential female patrons.

 

Even the choice of beverage brands for Super Bowl has changed. Nielsen[1] reports that while beer spending rose to about $40 million in the week before game, wine was not too far behind. The increasing female fan following has contributed to wine being a primary choice, which in turn has prompted brand owners and advertisers in the industry to rethink their brand marketing strategies. The smart ones who implemented appropriate brand changes achieved record sales.

 

Clearly these developments point to the fact that branding for women is no longer limited to specialist niche categories but an assertive influence you need to get to grips with — fast. Statistics show women are a vast majority of consumers with a rapidly expanding purchasing power.

 

 

Female Purchasing Power Facts:[2]

  • The average American woman is expected to earn more than the average American male by 2028
  • 51% of U.S. Private Wealth is controlled by women
  • Women account for over 50% of all stock ownership in the U.S.
  • Women control more than 60% of all personal wealth in the U.S.
  • Women make 85% of all purchasing decisions across industry sectors – be it technology, cars, houses, pharmaceuticals or any other. [3]

 

While the income for female professionals has increased by over 63% in the last three decades, their male counterparts have seen comparatively limited growth.[4] In fact, the Office for National Statistics have reported that women in their 30s are now earning more than men.[5] But that’s not the only reason why the female purchasing power has increased by leaps and bounds.

 

Women budget, save and buy in a manner that is very different to men. Businesses therefore, need a deeper understanding of what women want, how they think and what influences their choices, how the trends and changes in women’s social and economic status are influencing their buying decisions, and how all of this in turn is transforming female purchasing power and consequently the world and brands around them.

 

Fara Warner[6] offers powerful insights into this paradigm shift in her book – ‘The Power of the Purse (paperback): How Smart Businesses Are Adapting to the World’s Most Important Consumers — Women’. Among several hard-hitting examples, she talks about the powerful De Beers campaign which promoted the idea of women self indulging and giving themselves diamonds instead of waiting for their male counterparts to gift them the precious stones. She said that this is a striking acknowledgement that women had reached a level of economic power where they could afford expensive jewels and weren’t afraid to show them off.”

 

De Beers Women 600px

Image via www.penduluminaction.com

 

 

These changes are happening right before our eyes, and yet a lot of marketers are not yet fully cognizant to the facts. 91% of female consumers feel that advertisers don’t understand them. 7 out of 10 feel alienated by most advertisements out there. [7]

 

A year ago author Kathy Lette[8] criticised brand managers and advertisers for their reported and apparent inability to connect with older women. At a panel organized by Hearst Magazine at Advertising Week Europe, she pointed out that women over 50 have largely been erased from UK TV screens backed up by the fact that 85% of the people over 50 appearing on TV are men.

 

Yet, senior women aged 50 and above actually have a net worth of $19 trillion just in America, according to a study conducted by MassMutual Financial Group–2007. Women will control two thirds of consumer wealth in the United States and other developed nations over the next decade. Their purchase decisions and power will likewise, change considerably.

 

 

Case Study # 1 – Luxury Car Market

Women buy more than half of the new cars in the U.S., and influence up to 80% of all car purchases. It’s the same in other developed nations as well. Similar to Audi’s changing demographic targets, Jaguar is all set to woo their female customers too.

 

In a recent release, Jaguar Australia announced that they are no longer skewed towards male customers. Their strategies for the new 2016 Jaguar F-Pace SUV are focused at the widening and most particularly, female audience. They are confident that this will bring new customers to the brand and double their sales.

 

Jaguar F Pace Suv 600px

Image via http://www.wheelsmag.com.au

 

 

Porsche increased their female buying market with the introduction of the 2015 Macan. They tasted success earlier with their SUV, the Cayenne which broadened their market share. From a brand that was typically geared towards the high-income male gearheads, their bold experiments doubled Porsche’s market share among female buyers.

 

Porsche Macan 600px

Image via http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/

 

 

In fact, these cars outsell the rest of its stable by sizable margins, helping Porsche reinvent their image from the ultimate guy ride into a brand women love. This goes a long way to prove how smart branding can change the most traditional perceptions and market dynamics.

 

2015 Porsche Macan Interior 600px

Image via http://www.hollywoodreporter.com

 

 

Brand Lesson:

Marketers need to work on their brand messaging and positioning so that they can reach the changing demographics of their target audience.

 

 

Case Study # 2 – Arms and Ammunitions

Increasingly female purchasing power is also reflected in more unconventional segments like arms and ammunitions as well. Reports say that women are the fastest growing group of gun buyers in the U.S. and they are women across all age groups, 25-55, and all regions, from urban to rural according to News Tucson.

 

 

 

 

Brand Lesson:

Female purchase power extends way beyond the conventional segments. Industries need to understand this and act now.

 

 

Case Study # 3 – Pop Music Industry

On the other end of the spectrum, there are also reports on how female buyers are dominant drivers in pop music sales. A case in point relates to a Nielsen study funded by Sony Music, which found that 62% of Adele’s fans are female, between the ages of 25 and 44 years old, and have children. Most importantly these female fans are ready buyers with the desire and ability to purchase.

 

An article by Hannah Karp in the Wall Street Journal, based on data from a number of market research firms, show that female fan following and their purchases have kept the music scene hopping. Their interest spans performers across gender and age groups as well.

 

Adele 600px

Image via www.forbes.com.  Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

 

 

Brand Lesson:

Clearly, brand owners need to re-evaluate their markets, and a brand audit health check may be required to see if brand messaging, positioning, story and so forth are properly tailored and relevant to meet the needs of these different female audiences.

 

 

What Women Want?

So how does a brand owner manager assess and develop the right brand strategy to attract and engage their female customers?

 

Before they can even attract the interest and earn the trust of their potential female customers brands need to analyze their total offering from the female perspective. They need to earn their female customers’ interest.

How can they do this?

 

Businesses should endeavour to identify which media and mode of messaging their growing female audience prefers. Women don’t just fall for the same old awareness campaign routines of bygone years. Traditional repetition and interruption-based advertising doesn’t really work to the same extent as it did historically. Instead they look for a message that they can emotionally identify with.

 

Products or services found in their preferred media are likely to gain more traction. Instead of heavy handed media campaigns and aggressive selling, brands need to develop a deeper understanding of their female customers in terms of their needs, wants, loves, hates and aspirations before developing more indirect and perhaps more sophisticated ‘selling’  brand strategies such as co-branding, limited editions, corporate social responsibility strategies, product placement, luxury or premiumisation strategies, editorials and sponsorships.

 

 

Deeper Insights

CIO’s Bryan Pearson[9] insightful details about how female buyers think and where brands are going wrong with them is worth a read. Touching on the various ways marketers could fulfill the needs of this customer segment he says, A woman’s shopping cart carries more than goods; it carries stories about her and the many influencers in her life. If retailers better understood that journey, they could ensure the correct products are there for her and prolong the tale.”

 

It might also be worth listening to Microsoft’s executive vice president, Peggy Johnson[10] and her theory of one emerging market everyone is missing out on – women. “We all have to think about the emerging markets. And you probably have given a lot of thought to the largest emerging markets, China and India,” Johnson said. “But I think what gets lost is that a bigger emerging market is, surprisingly, women. Women themselves are an emerging market. There are more and more women entering into the workforce themselves. More and more of them are making more money.”

 

 

How can a business connect with this powerful female audience?

What is needed is a greater degree of emotional intelligence in the way a brand is developed through the brand profiling process. The outputs from the process provide in effect the brand’s blueprint or roadmap for why, what, where and how the brand should engage in the market with its primary target audience.

 

Brand profiling also includes evaluating the way in which companies position their products, and how they build an emotional connection with their buyers. Remember customers buy with emotion first and justify with rational afterwards, regardless of gender so you must move the heart to win the mind.

 

 

Characteristics of the Female Buyer [11]

  • Loyal — Women are more likely to purchase from brands they follow
  • Social — Women use Social Media to connect different aspects of their lives
  • Influencer — Women are more likely to tell their friends about their purchases so an advertiser gets a double benefit
  • Spender – Women make 85% of purchasing decisions
  • Frequent buyer – Women shop more. They go back to a store and a brand more frequently than their male counterparts

 

 

Case Study # 4 – Beauty and Personal Care, Understanding the Female Psyche 

If you want a share of the rapidly growing female purchasing power you need to understand the psyche of the female buyer first so you can tailor your brand specifically to meet their needs if you want to convince them your brand is the best solution for what they want.

 

Clairol took something as important, and in many ways, as basic as hair colour and turned it into a winning campaign. They connected deeply with their female audience – women who don’t have to admit that they colour their hair, unless they want to!

 

 

 Clairol Does She Or Doesnt She Hair Colourant

Image via www.hubspot.com and Current360

 

 

 

Dove has been making headlines for some time now.

This Dove commercial does a phenomenal job connecting with the female audience in real world.

 

 

 

 

 

Dove: Real Beauty – This powerful persona marketing campaign stresses how beauty should be a source of confidence and not anxiety. Their Real Beauty Sketches campaign along with a compelling study which showed that only 4% of women consider themselves beautiful, touched chords. The advert went viral and has been viewed over 114 million times the world over.

 

Brand Lesson:

Connecting with the female audience at a core emotional level works far better than the more abrasive direct selling approach.

 

 

Leveraging Social Media

It might seem like stating the obvious but women shop differently to men. They are less influenced by adverts and they research more extensively. According to Michael Silverstein[12] of Boston Consulting Group, there is an imperative need for a very different brand and marketing style. Along with a very different sense of what’s valuable.

 

Clearly, a better use of media diversity is needed to leverage awareness.[13] This is a huge opportunity for social media and for content marketing. As Susan Gunelius[14] has pointed out, women tend to trust the information on blogs and social media sites more and consequently brands need to understand this, and implement effective brand strategies to meet their female customers’ needs.  The depth, significance and resilience of female purchase power will determine the future of branding and marketing, consequently how companies and organisations redesign their selling models.

 

 

 Women On Twitter 370x229

Image via https://www.clickz.com

 

 

Women are proactive when it comes to using social media for their research. 76% of internet users are women which says a lot for their preferred mode of communication in the 21st century. A Nielsen study shows that women spend close to 10 minutes social networking while men spend a little less than 7 minutes. [15]

 

For businesses, this is an incredible opportunity to grab the attention of the changing demographics and harness this potential market. A study into which social media is used more, and for what purpose will pave the way for a more focused marketing campaign.

 

 

 Who Uses Social Networking Sites

Image via http://www.pewinternet.org

 

 

Case Study # 5 – Sports & Fitness, Leveraging Social Media for Female Buyers

Nike’s ‘Better for It’ Women’s Campaign went beyond the traditional formats to utilize the power of viral videos, in an eight-episode scripted YouTube series. Focusing on the average athlete’s insecurities and the various obstacles on the way to self-improvement, it aims to ignite a woman’s journey towards empowerment through sport and fitness.

 

Nike Margo Lilly Poster 600px

Image via http://www.adweek.com

 

 

Brand Lesson:

Creative storytelling can be leveraged to differentiate, create rapport and showcase how one brand may affect many aspects of one’s lives – from achieving physical fitness to reaching emotional equilibrium.

 

 

 

 

 

Case Study # 5 – Auto Repair

This small auto repair business, Victory Auto Service and Glass, started out as one shop in the suburbs of Minneapolis. Clever brand messaging and a winning social media brand strategy involved really thinking like their primary target customer, developing a thriving Facebook page, encouraging customers to connect, tag photos and promoting their community.

 

 

  Victory Auto Service And Glass Minneapolis

Image via http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com

 

 

Today, the business has 5 locations to boast of, over 1700 Facebook fans and over 3,100 YouTube views. Over 60% of fans and people “talking about” their Facebook page are females. [16]

 

 

 

 

 

Brand Lesson:

If you can think like a customer, you can connect with them on a deeper level, attract more of your target audience and grow faster.

 

It’s given that social media is now a ubiquitous part of every day life and business. It has leveled the playing field and given small and medium size businesses opportunities to leverage growth with incredible creativity, which in turn has enabled them to harness the power of hitherto untapped resources, progress more rapidly and become more profitable.

 

Take advantage of newer technologies to grow your market share with the fastest growing audience segment — women in today’s world.

 

Key learnings for brands to consider:

• Re-evaluate your customer demographics

• Closely examine your analytics

• Rethink your brand profiling specifically for women

• Develop different female buyer personas so you can tailor your brand strategy more effectively

• Reassess your social brand strategy

• Evolve new brand messaging and outreach

 

 

Questions to consider:

• Do you really know your target female audience? Have you done an in-depth study of your target demographics and developed your brand purchasing personas for each target audience type?

 

• Are you truly harnessing the power of the emerging technologies? Is your brand strategy leveraging social platforms as well as the power of new media?

 

• Is your brand messaging powerful enough to resonate with your female audience? Have you fully developed your brand profile, using a system like the Personality Profile Performer™, so you can build your brand to be irresistible to your ideal audience, make your brand stronger and increase your profitability?

 

• Are you still talking to your customers or talking with them? Are you building relationships or dictating a message with your brand strategy?

 

• Is your brand speaking the language of your customers? This is not a one-size fits all scenario, because what will appeal to a 25 year old girl will not appeal to a 55 year old woman. Brand profiling will ensure your brand tone-of-voice and messaging is properly developed to meet the needs of, and attract your primary audience.

 

You may also like:

 

Brand Profiling: How Brand Performance and Purpose are Inextricably Linked

 

Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling  

 

The Profit Power of Cult Brands, Why and How to Create One

 

Brand Profiling: How to Use Emotion to Make Your Brand More Profitable

 

Brand Audits: 10 Things Successful Brand Owners and Managers Must Know  

 

Brand Revitalisation and Relaunch: The do’s and don’ts of doing it successfully!

 

Brand CSR: The Business Case for Successful Branding and Social Good

 

Co-Branding: 13 Tips for Growing Your Brand Through Strategic Partnerships

 

 

[1] Nielson Report, http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2016/02/07/super-bowl-ad-costs-soar—-but-so-does-buzz/79903058/  ‘Super Bowl ad costs soar — but so does buzz’. February 2016

[2] Gallup, http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/178616/unleashing-power-purse.aspx ,‘Unleashing the Power of the Purse’

[3] Women in the Economy, http://www.thefemalefactor.com/statistics/statistics_about_women.html

[4] Forbes, http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2012/07/16/the-20-best-paying-jobs-for-women-in-2012/#56d471303830

[5] Office for National Statistics, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2841740/Now-women-30s-earning-men-time-female-workers-staving-gender-pay-gap-having-family-later-life.html

[6] Fara Warner, http://farawarner.com/fw_site2/Book.html ‘The Power of the Purse (paperback): How Smart Businesses Are Adapting to the World’s Most Important Consumers-Women.’

[7] Ali Hanan, http://www.theguardian.com/women-in-leadership/2016/feb/03/how-advertising-industry-fails-women , ‘Five facts that show how the advertising industry fails women.’ February 2016

[8]NicolaKemp,http://www.campaignlive.com/article/brands-slammed-ignoring-older-women/1340327#Da7IblcMpAxmPUA8.99,  ‘Brands slammed for ignoring older women’, March 2015

[9] Bryan Pearson, http://www.cio-today.com/article/index.php?story_id=020001UILPC8 , ‘What Women Want Retailers To Know About Their Shopping Carts’, February 2016

[10] Peggy Johnson, http://www.winbeta.org/news/microsofts-executive-vp-business-development-peggy-johnson-warns-missing-emerging-female-market

[11] Marketing to Women Quick Facts, http://she-conomy.com/facts-on-women

[12] Michael Silverstein, https://www.bcg.com/documents/file22016.pdf, ‘Women Want More’, 2009

[13] Kim Rocco, http://powersportsbusiness.com/blogs/service-providers/2016/02/08/are-you-missing-out-on-sales-check-your-email-database/, ‘Are you missing out on sales? Check your email database’, February 2016

[14] Susan Gunelius, http://www.corporate-eye.com/main/social-media-trends-among-female-consumers-in-2012/   ,“Social Media Trends Among Female Consumers in 2012”, March 2012

[15] Nielson Report, http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/reports/2012/state-of-the-media-the-social-media-report-2012.html

[16] Social Media Examiner, http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-case-study-victory-auto/

 

Top 10 Brands for Customer Experience and What You Can Learn From Them

If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” (Jeff Bezos) – CEO Amazon.

 

89 percent of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience in 2016 according to a recent Gartner survey, compared to only 36 percent four years ago. If your customers don’t like the customer experience they have with you, there’s a high probability they won’t buy again and they’re highly likely to share their poor brand experience with everyone they know — online!

 

Steve Jobs Quote Customer Experience 600px

 

 

Here we’ll take a look at who has been delivering a great customer brand experience and how they’re doing it really well, contrasted with others on the opposite end of the scale — with actionable learnings for you to take away from both.

 

The latest reports on customer brand performance are eye-openers and worth reflecting on when you review your own brand or give it a customer performance brand health check.

 

 

Common Brand Experience Traits for Top Brands

One factor that definitely stands out is steadfast perseverance. What has attracted customers before, and will attract them in the future, is perceived value. The brands that have continued to deliver highly regarded perceived brand value, from a customer perspective, and continued to unwaveringly improve upon it, are ruling the day.

 

This perceived brand value has nothing to do with affordability but everything to do with user experience, a unique experience that creates strong brand loyalty and engenders long lasting customer brand champions.

 

Amazon 600px

Image via http://i.huffpost.com

 

  

Who’s Got Exemplary Customer Service Really Covered?

  • 1.         Amazon
  • 2.         Apple
  • 3.         Nordstrom
  • 4.         Lush
  • 5.         First Direct
  • 6.         LL Bean
  • 7.         Air Asia
  • 8.         Uber
  • 9.         Net-A-Porter
  • 10.      Worldwide Stereo

 

Let’s take a closer look to see how these brands have a made real difference to their customers’ lives, and consequently massively grown their profits too.

 

 

Case Study #1 AmazonLet the Customer Rule

How Amazon created a brand around its customers?

When it comes to perceived value and web-based customer service, Amazon wins hands down. It has repeatedly demonstrated to the world that, when done correctly, with meticulous attention to detail and tireless focus, they are the byword for customer service. In reality, despite many detractors and ever-growing competition, the retail, or rather the e-tail giant, has proved that customer service is a fine art. It’s no wonder than many fail, despite best intentions.

  

The core vision

One of the reasons Amazon excels at customer service is because their core vision blends in with their founder’s original mission seamlessly — make customers the primary focus and deliver unflagging perceived value. They’ve built their entire customer service brand strategy, and in extension, their brand around this mission.

 

 

 

 

 

USPs:

What stands out first is their incredible returns policy, which is the first thing to reassure the buyer that they will be taken care of, even if they dislike their purchase. In other words, their money is safe, if in doubt.

 

Another outstanding feature is the Amazon fast response times. Unlike many other instances where a customer might hold for an eternity on their phone, waiting for customer service with other brands, with Amazon you connect swiftly.

 

With the recent additions to their call service centers, thorough follow-ups, and thoughtful tips for buyers, Amazon has consistently continued to prove that it is the guru of customer service. [1]

 

Lesson Learned:

Consistent reliability, every time

 

 

Case Study #2 AppleIs this an iPhone 6s?

How the brand inspires pride and ownership?

Technology companies in general have delivered an overall great customer service experience, which when you think of their reach, is not an easy task.

 

In the collaborative survey conducted by 24/7 Wall St. and research survey group Zogby Analytics, Apple had 40% of its customers vouching for its customer service. [2] For a company that has reinvented the word innovation, this figure is important.

 

How the brand functions?

First comes the customer, followed by the technology. Jobs said, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back towards the technology.”

 

Powerful words that still define the way the company works. It is a brand that stands for exclusivity and innovation. Today it is also a brand that stands for its customers. [3]

 

USPs:

Its customer satisfaction rating has improved by nearly 5 percent from 2014, helping it move its way closer to the top spot in the customer service Hall of Fame. Apple’s increased sales figures, a 30 percent increase in 2015 from the year before, also suggest a satisfied customer base.

 

Apple Store San Francisco

Image via www.msn.com, © AP Photo/Eric Risberg

 

 

What’s more, it has also ranked exceptionally high, a 4 out of 5, for employee satisfaction. Employees not only take pride in working here but they also identify with the brand and are active champions of the brand, a fact that reflects in their customer service and in the way customers identify with the brand.

 

In order to excel you have to innovate. You also have to identify a need and fulfill it and then ensure that the service you provide is truly exemplary. From the product design to the unique Genius bar, Apple has ensured that customer experience is not just good, but unique every time.

 

Lesson Learned:

How Apple does it? They innovate. Every time.

 

 

Hugh Mac Leod Gapingvoid Creativity Is The Fuel

Image via www.gapingvoid.com, © Hugh MacLeod

 

 

Case Study #3 NordstromLuxury is Approachable

How the brand has been reinvented?

The luxury brand has become the absolute role model for customer service with their seamless returns policy. The atmosphere is still that much loved and wonderful blend of convivial warmth together with subdued luxury tones, that makes shopping there a really enjoyable experience.

 

Their customer service agents are helpful, well trained and knowledgeable. While their recent policies have included more frequent promotions, their teams have been simultaneously trained to deal with the increased foot-fall and expanded customer mix.

 

Nordstorm 600px

Image via http://i.cbc.ca

 

 

USPs:

According to experts, what stands out however is their incredible price-matching policy across the country, similar to John Lewis in the UK. If an item has a price-drop anywhere else, no matter which store it is, they’ll match that price right away for their customer. [4]

 

Online shoppers can even get benefits like free shipping on every order and paid return shipping. The brand message has slowly evolved from classic to timeless and secure with customers made to feel important and cared for.

 

Lesson Learned:

Feel good luxury

 

 

Case Study #4 LushBeauty is Naturally Indulgent

What should be the brand focus?

Putting a definite smile on their customer faces is the focus for natural cosmetics firm Lush, with the help of their welcoming and very knowledgeable staff. The ‘happy atmosphere’ of the store enfolds customers like a welcome balm, who typically leave with or without buying, feeling in a better mood and good about themselves.

 

They garnered a whopping 89 percent of the votes and came out as the winner among UK’s top brands. According to the leading industry surveys from KPMG Nunwood and Which?, retail brands like Lush have made significant impact with their customers and consequently increased sales, simply by creating the right environment for their customers consistently. [5]

 

USPs:

Most people would think that a brand like Lush has been built on the premise that they are offering an exemplary range of products. Actually, when you look closely you will see that their entire brand strategy is focused on making their customers feel good and confident through their exemplary natural products, coupled with their proactive CSR strategy and giving back for greater social good. A fine difference but difference nevertheless.

 

Lesson Learned:

Create a brand personality associated with a warm and happy feeling, together with giving back for the greater good. People buy with emotion first and justify with rational afterwards — regardless of gender or cultural background, so you must win the heart first if you want to move the mind.

 

Lush 600px

Image via www.thisismoney.co.uk, ©Alamy

  

  

Case Study #5 First Direct – Your Money is Safe

First Direct was a close second with 86 percent of the votes, no doubt ruing its fall from the winning position that they held the year before. But it has nevertheless carried on its tradition of great customer service, which has been reflected in the surveys.

 

Much praise was heaped on it for its high-profile switching deals, as well as making the change process really easy for customers too.

 

Lesson Learned:

Making money management easy

 

 

Case Study #6 – LL Bean – You are the Heritage

Across the Atlantic it is LL Bean which came out on top. The heritage retailer has received five stars for its outstanding customer service and courtesy that left customers feeling positively happy, a word that is often not often associated with customer service today. Worth noting when you consider that according to another study, nearly one third of all consumers would rather clean a toilet than talk to most companys’ customer service agents! All LL Bean customers are responded to and quickly, one can even speak to an LL Bean representative in close to 30 seconds and get email responses within an hour.

 

Lesson Learned:

So what makes LL Bean so popular? They have made their brand easily identifiable for each and every customer by being so approachable. One just doesn’t take pride in the product but spreads the word for others.

 

Ll Bean Boots 600px

Image via http://www.businessinsider.com, Flickr/jimshooz7

  

  

Case Study #7 AirAsiaConnecting Anywhere, Anytime

How to overcome existing barriers?

We live in the age of constant connection and social media and this list would be incomplete with at least one brand that rules that space. The winner surprisingly is an airline, a category that has been historically notorious about customer service.

 

 

 Air Asia Airline 600px

Image via www.tommyooi.com

 

 

In an age where news, especially bad news, spreads faster than we can blink, keeping up with great customer service is a definite challenge. AirAsia, with JetBlue a close second, has changed our perceptions about customer service and interaction in the airline industry.

 

How have they succeeded?

 

Mastering the emerging technologies

With an outstanding Facebook presence, easy to navigate and helpful web pages, fast customer response time across all social and online platforms, AirAsia is rocking the virtual space.

They have over 3 million likes on their Facebook page which is not just a content sharing space but one where they have actively engaged their customers and readers.

They respond.

 

They make it a point to respond to all queries and comments and fast. Their representatives are always friendly and personable and available 24×7.

Fun promotions like “Free Seats Challenge,” one that offers 12 winning customers a year’s worth of free seats on flights doesn’t hurt either.

 

Lessons Learned:

You can reinvent around perceived barriers.

 

They have reinvented their brand by reinventing the way we look at airlines today. Instead of expecting hassles and hold-ups, one can experience instant connection and responses.

 

It immediately changes brand perceptions as it simultaneously engenders customer confidence and goodwill, before they potentially become irate — which is particularly important in a sector where unscheduled delays or unpredictable problems can make travelling more arduous.

 

 

Case Study #8 Uber – Customer Service Redefined

How a new brand becomes a giant?

Expert reports have revealed one brand that has been touching the thousand to million mark, in terms of customer service, and across the world it’s Uber. [6]

 

What started as simply easing of commute worries has now transformed into a whole new concept of transportation. With its ingenious and virtually seamless innovations it has now integrated itself into our daily lives together with a very robust customer following. Very soon, we will see it as a one-stop travel planner too.

 

Lessons Learned:

Identify a need, even in a crowded marketplace.

Innovate a service by adopting the latest technologies.

 

Uber 600px

Image via www.sfexaminer.com

 

 

Small and New Can Win Too

 

Case Study #9 Net-A-Porter – Be a Relaxed Shopper

The online retailer came next for its best phone-based customer service, an aspect of business very few brands can testify to.

 

Their outstanding one-to-one communication, in this era of mass communiqués have touched hearts and moved minds.

 

It is still a growing brand but it has effortlessly managed to hold its own against the goliaths by virtue of its incredible customer service.

 

Lessons Learned:

This focus on customer has indeed paid off with spreading word-of-mouth referrals.

Word-of-mouth, after all, is still the strongest brand strategy when leveraged for the right reasons.

 

 

Case Study #10 Worldwide Stereo – Customer is King

 

It’s not always the giants that rule either. In the world of behemoths, one small company that has made its mark in sales and customer service is the World Wide Stereo.

 

 

 

 

 

This electronics and audio store not only offers an amazing (and ever-increasing) array of innovative products, but has also garnered a reputation for its stellar customer service.

 

It’s fast becoming the place-to-go when you want an out of the box product that no one else has — and which often has sizable discounts too.

How they do it?

 

They hold their own against the big retail brands with their expedited two day delivery, and even a free next day delivery in some cases.

 

 

 Worldwide Stereo

Image via http://membrane.com

 

 

They stand by their products and are known to quietly upgrade orders and deliver a faster and better service. They even boast a custom home installation team, something many of us have never even heard of in this twenty-first century. [7]

 

Lesson Learned:

They have created a brand that stands for the customer, all the way.

 

 

Building a Brand with Customers at its Heart

According to the StellaService report, the brands that measured well are accessible to their customers via multiple channels: phone, email, online live chats, and have outstanding shipping and return policies too. [8]

 

 

Delivering Value

When we look at all the brands that have made it to the top positions for customer service, we see one thing in common – perceived brand value.

 

When you analyze performance more closely these brands have taken that concept to a completely new level. This is not the value for money concept in terms of the cheapest solution but rather the complete brand experience and the perceived increased brand value that engenders with its customers.

 

A great case in point is a premium brand like Apple with a premium pricing strategy – it is considered a top brand that offers value because of its outstanding product quality and great service. Every customer interaction is focused at making customers feel important while ensuring the product is accessible so it enhances peoples’ lives.

 

Customers need to be able to count on their favoured brands and the brands in turn have to focus on meeting and exceeding their customers’ expectations, and work their deliverables around those expectations.

 

Amazon delivered innovative support through their May Day button on the new kindle, where customers get support at the click of a button from a live person. No calls, no hold times, no chats and no waiting for email responses. This close attention to detail is what creates a sustainable brand. This is the value all brands should strive for.

 

Brands working on reinventing themselves or on their way to create a distinctive brand presence should focus not just on their products and sales, but also on their after sales service because word-of-mouth is still the strongest sales voice in the field.

 

A quick look at preferred customer service attributes:

  • Time Saver
  • Fast Turnaround
  • Price Match
  • Great Positive Emotive Feelings
  • Great service

 

 

Monopoly is so Last Year

There is also much to learn from the brands that did not do so well in the surveys and consequently what not to do! Interestingly, cable, satellite and wireless service providers reportedly fared quite badly on both sides of the Atlantic. Their long-running problems with low customer satisfaction are unfortunately very much a part of negative customer experiences according to the latest industry surveys.

 

 

What not to do

According to customer ranking research and survey results, despite the continued poor performance they still appear to suffer from a lack of urgency to improve the quality of their customer interactions. This could explain the continued customer complaints and dissatisfaction. [9]

 

One reason for this apathy could be the limited competition these companies face which somehow undermines the need for appeasing the customer faster, but hardly anything can explain this sectors indifferent attitudes reportedly experienced a little too frequently. The moment there is a new kid on the block, a challenger, disruptor and innovator, no matter how small, customers will switch.

 

 

Key Learnings to Consider:

•  A brand is built through its service – both sales and customer service

• If customer experience isn’t one of your top priorities long term, you’ll lose

•  Be reachable, always, anytime on multiple platforms

•  Expect what the customer expects, exceed their needs and design your service to meet those demands

• Innovation is the key to keeping customers engaged

•  Never be too complacent for the next big thing is always round the corner

•  Engage the customer on social media

•  Customer service is must and core to your successful brand strategy

•  Value is not low price, it is a great consistent brand experience

•  Offer true value, every time

 

 

Questions to Consider:

• Do you know what your customers really want? When did you last conduct a brand audit health check?

 

• Have you made your customers central to your long-term goals, or is it still revenue? It’s never about just the money.

 

• Do you have a robust team in place to deliver world-class customer service, 24×7? Are they also well-trained and fully inducted brand champions?

 

• Is your brand strategy totally sales based or is it customer service focused as well?

 

• Are you creating a sustainable brand through your customer support network?

 

• Are your customers talking about your brand beyond their brand interactions? Have you integrated a CSR strategy into your brand strategy?

 

• Do you offer true brand value in terms of a complete brand experience?

 

 

You may also like:

 

Brand Profiling: How Brand Performance and Purpose are Inextricably Linked

 

Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling  

 

The Profit Power of Cult Brands, Why and How to Create One

 

Brand Profiling: How to Use Emotion to Make Your Brand More Profitable

 

Brand Audits: 10 Things Successful Brand Owners and Managers Must Know  

 

Brand Revitalisation and Relaunch: The do’s and don’ts of doing it successfully!

 

Brand CSR: The Business Case for Successful Branding and Social Good

 

Co-Branding: 13 Tips for Growing Your Brand Through Strategic Partnerships

  

 

[1] Matt Granite, Money Expert, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20QoVsWsD58 ‘The top 5 companies for customer service’. April 2015

[2] 24/7 Wall Street, http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/generalmoney/the-2015-customer-service-hall-of-shame-and-fame/ar-AAdiO5T, ‘ Companies with the best customer service’, July 2015

[3] Shep Hyken, customer service and experience expert, 24/7 Wall St.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2015/07/24/24-7-wall-st-customer-service-hall-fame/30599943/, August 2015

[4] Matt Granite, Money Expert, http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2015/04/22/save-of-the-week-best-customer-service/26180985/, ‘The top 5 companies for customer service’. April 2015

[5] Which? Survey, http://www.which.co.uk/home-and-garden/shopping-grooming-and-wellbeing/reviews-ns/best-and-worst-brands-for-customer-service/100-big-brands-rated-for-customer-service/, ‘Best and worst brands for customer service: 100 big brands rated for customer service’, May 2015

[6] Brittney Helmrich, Business News Daily, http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/7578-social-media-customer-service.html#sthash.pFzb6Eu5.dpuf, 10 Companies That Totally Rock Customer Service on Social Media’, December 2014

[7] Matt Granite, Money Expert, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20QoVsWsD58 ‘The top 5 companies for customer service’. April 2015

[8] STELLA BENCHMARKS, https://stellaservice.com/benchmarks/, 2015

[9]   24/7 Wall Street, http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/generalmoney/the-2015-customer-service-hall-of-shame-and-fame/ar-AAdiO5T, ‘ Companies with the best customer service’, July 2015 

 

 

Brand Recall: 8 Strategies for Building a More Profitable Brand

82% of all high level corporate executives in the US stated that their customers had higher expectations of their companies than just three years before, 60% of executives found it difficult to please their customers, and 42% stated that consumers are using social media to shame their company into meeting increased customer demands, according to a Lithium survey.[1]

 

Obviously there is significant room for improvement in the marketplace amongst brand owners. Building a powerful brand is challenging, but consistently providing a great customer experience is central to any successful brand and consequently the quality of recognition, recall, referral, repeat purchase and overall brand affinity achieved amongst your primary target audience.

 

A positive brand exposure and customer experience is essential for developing brand trust and significantly improving brand recall, as a recent Macquarie University study has shown to be the case for durable goods. It is important to note that the study also revealed that advertising had significantly more influence on brand recall than merely personal experience for Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG).

 

In order to improve brand recall in an oversaturated modern market, brand owners need to adopt highly effective and proven brand strategies. Here we share with you eight of the most important strategies, with several examples of both large brands and smaller emerging brands utilizing them to great effect.

  

  

Top 8 Brand Strategies for Enhancing Customer Recall and Affinity

 

1. Invest in Developing Your Brand Profile, Proposition & Purpose

The process of increasing brand recall begins with intelligent brand profile development. Your customers need to be given a reason to choose your brand over other similar options. When we work on creating a brand proposition for our clients using the Personality Profile Performer™ System, we ask them to answer a number of seemingly simple questions: 

  • What purpose does your brand serve? What’s its Big Why?
  • What unique benefits do you offer that can improve your customers’ lives?
  • How would you define the idea or proposition behind your brand in a single sentence?
  • What kind of personality, messaging and tone do you envision for your brand?

The results of this initial brand profiling process sets the foundations for all future branding decisions and communications strategies. Defining what your brand stands for may not seem complicated at first glance, but these essential questions that you need to answer play an instrumental role in determining your future success, or lack thereof.

   

  

2. Create a Strong Brand Story Which Your Primary Audience Can Relate to

The most successful brands have a deep understanding of how their primary audience thinks. They know how to entice their consumers through creative storytelling, and they do so using sophisticated story creations processes like our Story Selling System™. By telling a compelling and engaging story about the company’s history, its philosophy and core brand values, you can create a positive association between your brand and the ideals that your target audience holds dear.

 

To truly understand the power of a good narrative, one need only look at Apple’s success in establishing themselves as a brand for forward-thinking and discerning individuals, who aren’t afraid to go against the grain and value quality and performance above all else.

  

  

 

  

  

Over the years, Apple has done a magnificent job of keeping the “rebel genius” narrative alive, and has proven to be a highly effective branding strategy. The reason it works so well is that it appeals to people with a specific mindset that transcends gender, race, age and generational differences. The story of Steve Jobs – a talented young man with an idea who overcomes adversity and ultimately builds a corporate empire – is compelling enough that it saw a movie adaptation starring Ashton Kutcher.

  

There is yet another biographical film, aptly named “Steve Jobs”, scheduled to come out later this year. While not every brand has the budget or influence to finance multiple Hollywood movies, Apple’s masterful storytelling can serve as a source of inspiration and a valuable guide for any aspiring brand.   

 

A great brand story is your primary means of developing an emotional connection with your audience, and a fundamental way to inspire trust through its relatability. According to a 2012 Nielsen study[2] 58% of all online consumers worldwide trust the information on company websites and other owned media, and 50% trust the information they receive in emails that they have signed up for on company websites. There is always a compelling story behind a successful brand, but it must be carefully developed and told in the right way.  

 

 

3. Brand Audit, Research and Look for Gaps in Your Competition’s Brand Strategy

A brand audit health check can be viewed as a diagnostics tool, a way to evaluate your brand’s awareness, customer perceptions and the effectiveness of your current brand strategy. It can point out any problem areas, potential outside threats and new market opportunities. A thorough review of your business and marketing plans, your communications and brand collateral, your internal and external audiences helps provide your company with a clear perspective on the most effective brand strategy and business structure. 

 

To build a powerful brand, a company needs to be aware of and tracking what their main competitors and other industry leaders are doing. Another important piece of the puzzle is developing an understanding of your primary audience. Market research is key to acquiring deeper knowledge of the preferences, needs and behaviours of your target demographic together with developing buyer personas for each of your audience types. This knowledge will enable you to develop highly tailored brand strategies and exploit gaps in your competitors’ brand strategy.

 

For a good example of a smaller emerging brand exploiting a serious weakness of a much larger and well-established competitor, we can turn to Made Eyewear. Warby Parker had already become extremely popular, with many smaller companies attempting to copy their products, when Made Eyewear started gaining some traction in the market.

 

 

Made Eyewear 600px

Image via www.madeeyewear.com

 

  

However, the emerging brand had something that their competition didn’t – they owned and ran their own lens company in China. This enabled Made Eyewear to produce quality products at incredibly low prices, which in turn enabled them to offer unprecedented customization options through which each individual customer could express their own sense of style. Made Eyewear had the ability to engrave the stems, as well as mix and match different colour lenses and stems, to create a truly unique pair of glasses – and offer customers the ability to try out multiple frames with prescription lenses at prices that no competitor could match.

  

  

  

 

  

By controlling the entire process from how the moment the product was made to the moment it reached the customer, they were able to find a competitive edge over much bigger and well-established brands.

 

 

4. Invest in Great Brand Logo Design

Creating a great brand logo is about much more than merely designing a small image that will feature on your products, website and promotional material. When our clients come to us with a brand logo design request, they are usually looking for an expert to help them develop their brand identity. We find a lot of companies struggle with defining and articulating their brand’s proposition and purpose together with answering the questions outlined in the first item of this brand strategy tips list. A good logo serves the purpose of crystalizing your brand’s message and its core values, and allows you to communicate these to your audience with maximal efficiency.

  

  

 

  

  

Your logo should be appropriate to the market and your primary audience, and it needs to be unique and highly memorable. It is the first thing that will come to people’s minds when they think about your brand, so it plays an important role in recognition and brand recall.

  

By simply placing their brand logo in the upper corner of their YouTube ad, Libresse managed to improve their brand recall by an astonishing 300%.[3] Even the viewers who only watched the ad for a few seconds before clicking away were noticeably affected.

 

 

 

  

There are numerous aspects of effective logo design that should be considered – things like the choice of colour and shapes can have a profound effect on how the brand is perceived. You can delve deeper into colour psychology here and here to found out how colour psychology influences brand strategy.      

 

 

5. Humanize Your Brand and Engage Employees as Your Brand Ambassadors

Brands that make an emotional connection with their target audience achieve the greatest success. Despite the fact that many people believed that technology would eventually cause us to become isolated, social media statistics seem to show the complete opposite to be true – humans are social animals, and we have a strong desire to involve other like-minded people in our lives. Our brains are wired for face-to-face interactions, and consumers tend to trust word of mouth significantly more then other marketing strategies.[4]

   

Statista Social Network Facts

Image via www.statista.com

 

  

The level of trust that the general public feels for companies has dwindled over the past decade, but there is a way to reach out and earn some of that trust back – engaging your employees as brand ambassadors. As this Edelman global study has shown, consumers are highly receptive to brand promotion efforts coming from company employees.

  

  

Edleman Trust 2015 600px

Image via www.edelman.com

  

  

You can turn your employees into brand ambassadors gradually. Making social sharing an integral part of everyone’s workday is an effective way of nurturing brand advocates.[5] Apart from this, you can further humanize your brand by being highly receptive to consumer feedback, offering various perks to your loyal customers and providing exceptional customer service.  

 

 

6. Eliminate Factors that Jeopardize Your Brand Reputation

When building a brand it is also important to identify all the potential reputation risks that could undermine or destroy your hard earned reputation and nullify all your marketing efforts. We won’t cover all the details or get overly technical in this paragraph, as it is quite a vast topic, but we will provide some insight into the basics.

  

If we set aside things such as common security threats, e.g. corporate espionage and cyber-attacks, the number one reputation risk are social media blunders. Even the largest brands in the world, with impressive online marketing budgets, keep damaging their reputation with inappropriate comments, hashtag misuse, and attempts at exploiting tragedies.[6]  

 

A brand must have a preventive approach to reputation risk management, i.e. companies should strive to discover and eliminate potential risks, rather than try to deal with the fallout after the damage has been done. This can be done by focusing on a thorough exploration of all factors that can jeopardize your brand reputation by high level executives, regularly scanning the internet for potential risks and enforcing a strategy of proactive reputation risk management.

 

 

7. Reach Out to Your Target Audience Through Social Media and Build Connections

We have already mentioned that engaging your employees in social media sharing can help you create a powerful team of brand ambassadors that the public will trust, but social media can be utilized in an even more direct way – to connect to your target audience firsthand.

 

This approach has many advantages:

  • Consumers provide you with useful feedback
  • Loyal customers are given a behind-the-scenes look at your brand
  • You can organize giveaways and offer additional content
  • You can enhance your customer service
  • By encouraging social sharing, your loyal customers become your brand ambassadors

 

Social media can be used to help you tell your brand’s story in great depth, and you can make your consumers and products themselves a part of the narrative. The British luxury department store Harrods offers excellent customer service through open social media communication, and their efforts, such as their immensely successful “Twenty Ate Days” campaign that focused on promoting each of the 28 different restaurants within their store, have yielded impress results.[7]

  

There are a multitude of different social media platforms which your brand can leverage to build it’s own unique online strategies for improving brand recall – e.g. posting “How to” videos and reviews on YouTube, sparking conversations with consumers on Facebook and so forth. The skill lies in choosing the platform most suited to your product or service and your primary target audience. 

 

 

8. Be Consistent in Your Brand Strategy

Even though some companies revamp their brands every few years, household names like Nike have remained true to their core brand values, mission, promise, logo and slogan for a long time. They adapt their campaigns and brand strategy to suits evolving market trends but their fundamental brand DNA remains unchanged. They stay focused on the essentials – they market their shoes to athletes and pride themselves in a high level of sports performance.

   

   

   

 

  

Your branding must be consistent to be successful, i.e. grow from the same core brand philosophy, values, mission, promise and focus on a consistent brand voice and messaging, together with consistent quality brand collateral design across all your touchpoints, both on and offline.

  

  

You might also like:

   

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

  

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

  

• Brand Sponsorships: The Best Brand Ambassadors Are Already On Your Payroll 

  

• Brand Management: Top 10 Tips for Managing Your Brand Reputation

  

• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand

 

• Brand Strategy: 6 Lessons Learned from Tourism Queensland, One of the Most Successful Branding Campaign’s Ever

  

• Brand Voice: Differentiating Through Your Own Brand Language and Attitude

 

• Humanizing Your Brand : Why It is Key to Commercial Success

 

• Brand Strategy: 7 Winning Components of a Market Leading Brand Plan

  

  

So, what do you think?

• Is your brand message clear, and in keeping with the preferences of your target audience?

  

• Does your brand have a compelling story that connects with people on an emotional level?

 

• Is your brand logo a worthy representation of your core brand values and your brand message?

 

• Are you making an effort to humanize your brand and reach out to customers on social media?

 

• Do you know what factors can negatively affect your brand reputation, and do you have a comprehensive brand risk management strategy in place?

  

  

[1] Lithium (San Francisco), “Corporate America Under Pressure From Consumers’ Rising Expectations (Press Release)”, June 2015

[2] Nielsen (New York), “Global Consumers’ Trust In ‘Earned’ Advertising Grows In Importance”, April 2012

[3] Think with Google, “Libresse improves brand recall by 300% with logo placement”

[4] Kimberly A. Whitler, Forbes, “Why Word Of Mouth Marketing Is The Most Important Social Media”, July 2014

[5] Sandy Gibson, SocialMediaToday, “Cognitive Dissonance: Why Social Sharing Creates Employee Advocates”, February 2013

[6] Eric Samson, Entrepreneur.com, “10 of the Dumbest Social Media Blunders Ever”, June 2015

[7] Businesscasestudies.co.uk, “Increasing Brand Awareness Through Social Media Communications (a Harrods case study)”