The Fresh Brand Brew(Change Points in Consumer-Brand Relationships)
As we cruise through a chaotic and often messy marketing and branding landscape, how often do we pause to sink-in the fact that many of the consumer-brand relationships have changed dramatically. All of us now have to deal with a fresh brew of brand related issues. This post is about a few of these Change Points.
1. Last Mile is the First Mile.
Today last mile dictates most of our brand purchases - from toothpaste brands to apparel, durables and consumables!
Choice can give freedom. But too much choice can also paralyse the decision-making process. Therefore, it's far easier for the consumer to process brand information, messaging and new experiences at the retail point(last mile) rather than processing it between the first(mass media messaging) and the last mile.
2. The ROI on image-based advertising shows a diminishing trend. Increasingly we are finding that image-led advertising - celebrity image, glamour, hyped promises through environment creation - is for entertainment and aesthetic consumption alone.
The actual consumer purchase on many counts is on purely rational parameters, convenience, value-based offers or a combination of these factors and have very little to do with the brand image that ad agencies create.
3. Brand Baskets. Today, text-book defined brand loyalty is on a precipitous decline. Consumers are not loyal to 'only image' brands anymore. They do not generally stick to a single brand, or to its philosophy. In most cases it's a consideration basket of brands that the consumers date. Multiple brands for the multi-tasking mind and the multiple-avatars that they don...Brand relationships aren't monogamous any-more!
4. Flash Brands. The other interesting 21st century occurrence is a Flash Brand - the fast rising-from-nowhere people and product brands, backed by aggressive/ often manipulative marketing and a combo of PR + Buzz + consumer participation. Of course very often they disappear as fast as they come. But we must try to understand their creation and DNA. Harry Potter, Shilpa Shetty, iPhone can all be bracketed under the 'Flash Brand' cluster...
5. Rise of Authenticity. Consumers these days value brands that have authentic stories...Decades of image manipulation and false promises(new improved, more improved, most improved) have left them cynical about most brand messages. Tag-lines seem repetitive and sound like election slogans. Tired and non-credible. Consumers straight away are screening hype and manufactured statements. They prefer brands with a more authentic and conversational tone.
6. Inconsistency Rocks.The other thing which has fundamentally changed is that many consumers now expect their brands to be inconsistent and surprise them regularly. This is a marked departure from the 'consistency is King' school of brand thinking. Brands now need to be more creative than consistent in their final expressions... And this calls for greater risk-taking and intuition skills on the part of advertisers and marketers. If we look at the case studies of the most popular brands around us, all of them have embraced discontinuous change more readily and rapidly than the also-rans!
These are some of the Change Points in consumer-brand relations. Do write back with your comments. And expect some more 'Fresh Brand Brew' soon. Ciao...