In today’s environment, brands are constantly evolving in order to stay relevant. No longer are the days of catchy slogans and attractive logos enough to sustain a competitive advantage. While those things are part of the overall formula for success, the main question brands should be asking themselves is whether they have a full understanding of consumers’ needs. Creating cohesion is one of the toughest attributes to achieve for a brand but is arguably also the most important. In my research, I’ve been able to identify the 10 motivational factors of the consumer and how brands can leverage these, which I’ve detailed in my book, Expand Grow Thrive.
Brands work when they lock into people’s needs — when they do what is expected in smart ways, at one level, and when they anticipate and surprise at another. Because of the ever-changing environment, this has to be a continual process that will evolve through changes in attitude and expectations. In my experience, the brands that successfully do this are the ones that become an important part of the customers’ lives, as they are seen as symbols of good quality of life.
Customers judge themselves as being trendy, informed, cool, in charge, well-off and so many more factors, based on the brands they have access to, brands they can afford and brands that friends also use. These brands become methods of endorsement of consumer aspirations and providers of reassurance in their working lives. Because of this new positioning that brands have taken in customers’ minds, they are constantly competing in popularity contests.
This popularity contest is not necessarily just among each other but also against the sentiment of millions of connected consumers who can praise or condemn with frightening speed and notable force. Social media, review sites, blogs and the like can be viewed as a megaphone capable of reaching millions with a positive or negative message.
As stated in The Gen Z Effect, “Like it or not we inhabit an incredibly hyper-connected, information-saturated world, and we are suffering from a severe form of global attention deficit disorder as we are incessantly bombarded by more and more information stimuli.” Verification, trust in individuals and organizations and, therefore, brands, is earned and then endorsed in real time.
The implications for brands in this evolving climate are significant and, in order to stay relevant, brands must strive to be connected to consumers’ lives and patterns of thinking and remain structured to cater to them. By having that type of connection and understanding, the development of a highly integrated ecosystem will start to form.
Throughout personal research and experience, I’ve uncovered three tips for how brands can become highly integrated and desired.
Look Beyond One Income Source
As consumers expect more and more of what they used to pay for to be offered for free, the requirement for brands to categorize what is worth paying for and why has never been more crucial. For that to happen, brands need to look closely at their value propositions and their channels to arrive at models that are monetized around reward.
For example, many brands rush to create digital channels for their consumers, as the world today is predominantly digital and it can create such a large reach. However, digital channels don’t convert to cash easily. In order to counteract this lack of conversion to cash, brands should develop multiple types of offerings — physical products at different price points, that complement each other.
Cater To Customers Throughout All Stages Of Their Lives
It is important to not only focus on media as a way to increase awareness. Focus on where and what channels customers can potentially encounter your brand throughout their lives and how those occasions and experiences can reinforce what people know about the brand and prompt them to see the brand in a new way. This reinforces the importance of understanding your customers’ wants, needs and expectations.
Continuing to meet and exceed the needs of consumers who expect to be wowed is tiring, to say the least. And just as attention spans are shortening, so is patience. Brands must, therefore, increasingly pace the frequency of their product releases and how they will fill the voids between those releases to keep interest at a high level.
Brands with plenty to say need to back that up with the right amount of products and services to buy and pace these appropriately to elevate interest and meet demand. Success in the connective economy is literally about connecting the dots and doing so at the right time. Knowing which dots to join, where they are, when to join them and at what margin, are the determining factors.
For this reason, senior marketers need to have more integrated discussions with their sales, product development and licensing teams about how they can achieve the best brand presence possible in each market rather than relying on traditional launch-and-maintain strategies.