In today’s busy, complex and evolving marketplace, brands need to cut though more than ever to get noticed. Having a superior product or service is no longer enough. And to grow, brands now need to better understand what motivates their audience to buy.
The reality is that decision making is instinctive and emotional. The biggest indicator of purchase intent is actually how we feel about a brand. It’s how that brand tells us a compelling story in a simple straightforward way that draws us to that brand. And building that relationship and a dialogue with consumers should be simpler than ever before, with today’s social media platforms and emerging technology like voice search. But is it really necessary to create this emotional connection, to create brand love?
What are the benefits? And can every brand do this?
Although it’s not easy, there are significant brand benefits to nurturing a relationship with emotionally invested consumers. Brands that engage customers meaningfully have the potential to increase basket size, purchase frequency and gain significant profit. Research into loyalty and emotional engagement by CapGemini found 70% of emotionally engaged consumers spend up to two times or more on brands they felt loyal to, compared to less than half (49%) of consumers with low emotional engagement.
So, it’s clear that building emotional connections can make your consumers more engaged and loyal. This should result in spending more and your brand becoming top of mind, ensuring you beat the competition. They can also become your biggest brand advocates with UGC (user generated content) quickly becoming an invaluable marketing tool to brands.
One of my favourite examples of a brand getting it right is Coca Cola. In recent years their brand positioning has been all around sharing, joy and happiness. Coke are clever with their smaller intimate projects to promote sharing and the joy of people meeting and coming together. It’s a wonderful thing to be synonymous with people’s fondest memories!
Over the years I have seen many Coke projects taking simple insights and making heart-warming stories to build brand love. For example, the first day of college is always hard, getting to know new people and finding your way around. Coke leveraged this insight and placed a vending machine of free Coke on campus. However, students could only open their Coke bottles by matching it with another Coke bottle, thus making these students talk to new people.
There are numerous ‘open happiness’ campaigns from around the world which also leverage local insights in more meaningful ways, like this one where Coke helps workers working abroad use their bottle caps as currency, to enable them to call home from a special Coke booth:
So, how can brands build emotional connections?
1) Understands your audience - so you can be relevant
Knowing your audience and understand what makes them tick is key. Audience segmentations isn’t just about age, sex & geography, today it’s really about understanding your consumers attitudinal profile. Once you understand what makes them behave in a certain way or their core interests you can tailor your content to be more relevant and appealing.
2) Know your brand purpose & positioning
I believe a brand’s purpose should be a higher order philosophy, point of view or reason that they exist in the world. It should guide everything the brand does, providing both a vision to judge its activities against and a direction to guide future activity. In its most simple form, purpose is purely the reason why your brand exists!
Savvy marketers are starting to understand that purpose doesn’t have to be lofty or out of reach, they don’t even need to push through some big societal change. Your brands purpose should be deeply rooted in the brand itself and what it stands for and most importantly what makes it different. Finding that ownable territory and becoming known for something is vital to engaging your consumers.
3) Learn what customers expect in return
Brands must learn what customers expect from them in return for their emotional investment. Consumers increasingly expect brands to provide two-way interactions often in real-time as well as differentiated or personalised shopping experiences. While emotion is the key driver in influencing customers spending behaviour, brands must use empathy and understand the value of their offering to consumers.
4) Anticipate their needs
Just as customers expect a more personalised experience, they also expect brands will leverage the data they've shared to predict their next likely action with a brand. By 2020, 51% of consumers expect companies to anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions. Brands can add value for customers by demonstrating they understand their needs and are committed to creating a better brand experience for them.
5) Create a unique experience
Your consumers what to be rewarded for their interactions with your brand, essentially, they want to feel special and valued. This could simply be a more personalised approach on your website, sample size products with a certain value of order or advanced invitations to sales or events. It could even be a one of a kind reward or experience like a VIP event that makes your consumers feel part of an exclusive community.
So, no matter the size of your brand, I believe making an investment in your initiatives to drive an emotional connection with your consumers will significantly increase your brands value, growth & engagement and should even attract new consumers.
of consumers expect companies to anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions by 2020