Monday, 21 October 2013

Brand Experience - Focus on the real meaning

The term “brand experience” is often misused and miss quoted. Academically speaking it’s the experience your brand gives a consumer and so how they emotionally react or connect with it. This is based on whether it fulfils and is responsive to their needs, and very simply how it makes them feel.  Retailers spend millions trying to get that bit right when you walk into a store. Unfortunately it has now also become a catch all phrase that encompasses a whole new area of marketing.  

Many brands are now creating activities and events that allow consumers to experience a brand. This used to be the lady in the supermarket handing out the latest spread on a crumb of a cracker or the thimble of a new drink to try. Today this has evolved to a whole new level.

The best example of this comes from brand giants Procter & Gamble who in 2006 launched Charmin Restrooms at New York’s Times Square. These promised the best bathroom experience in the entire city. Over 400,000 consumers visited the restrooms in the first year of opening and US sales increased by 14%.

If you have ever been to Dublin you have probably visited the Guinness Storehouse. This is one big brand experience, not a tourist attraction as it’s often mistaken and presumed as. Land Rover has a global brand experience director. They plan to get 2m customers taking part in branded experience events by 2020 offering a range of experiences including Land Rover Adventure Holidays in 42 global experience centres.

Clearly only big brands have brand experience directors. However every company should be thinking about the academic definition as what is really important. What impression does your brand give to your target audience at every touch point they have with it from when people call you, go on your website or even pick up a leaflet or see an ad? Does it fulfil your customers needs better than the competition and are you responsive to that? Spend time thinking on those and you will be further ahead than your competitors.

Tim Youngman is Director of Marketing for Archant 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Marketing People vs the World (again)

A piece of research I read this week once again did what it was supposed to and challenged my thinking about how much I really know about our customers.

The research was a survey of 1,000 consumers and 350 marketers. It looked at what marketers think consumers do and think and then the reality of their actual behaviour.

For example when asked for what was the preferred channel of communication for customer service was, the sample of marketers thought that 8% of people would want to use Facebook and 7% Twitter. When they asked the consumer sample, the reality was only 2% would use Facebook and a mere 1% Twitter. The traditional channel of email was vastly under rated by marketers with 17% thinking people would want to use it versus 32% of actual consumers who said they preferred it.

A similar disconnect was highlighted when both sets were asked about which devices were used to access the internet. The marketers thought that 18% of consumers would use a tablet and 23% a mobile. Again the reality of consumers was of the 1,000 only 6% used a tablet and 9% a mobile.

To be honest I was not really surprised by the results because as a profession we are regularly at fault of jumping on whatever the current bandwagon is. In our defence this is normally driven by the continuing pressure to innovate and be thought leaders. Likewise, if you walk round a marketing conference delegates are usually dripping in new shiny tech toys compared with the people they then go to try to market to.

Most of us who work in a business that sells products or services will know our own products exceptionally well. We know our own industries well and our competitors and their products. However when it comes to our own customers there can be a difference between what we think their behaviour, views and needs are and what the reality actually is.

So all this just highlights a very simple reminder. Understanding your customers, their wants and needs and how you can help them achieve them will help differentiate you from your competitors. Research, in what ever form you choose to use, from studies to simple chats over cups of tea, is always worth the investment.

Tim Youngman is Director of Marketing for Archant