In this age of digital marketing, businesses are trying to reach us through all possible digital means. It could be through sending us hundreds of spam emails, through pop-up ads on our browsers, through sending commercial sms, what not? In fighting back all these marketing efforts to stay focused on what we really like to hear and see, we invented ways to keep spam mails in our spam folder, we use ad-block extensions in our browsers to keep those annoying ads off our views, and many times we can block or blacklist numbers that are sending spam texts. Here you go– as the advertisers got tools to reach us, we got tools to prevent them from reaching us! Here is a point to make. Rather than emphasizing on new tools and techniques to spread the message, focus on the message itself that people are willing to listen and spread. New tools hardly can work wonders unless people are really willing to accept what you want to say. We always find a way to ignore, even if it requires new tools and technology to make that “ignore” happen. It is time to ignore consciously since too many things are there where I “want” to put my priorities on and ignore the rest. We might need more and more of this “ignoring technology” in future!
Habit can play a great role in sustaining brand loyalty. Habit can be seen as a display of high degree of automaticity in purchase behavior. If so, brands need to see how customers can be “automated” in buying a particular brand than the other. Of course, this habituation takes time and effort. The question is how this can be done. Does it take strong positioning? Does it require wide availability?
Forming a habit could be a formidable task for brand managers, though not impossible. It may originate not only from strong positioning, but also from convenience of access through wide distribution, consistency in delivering promise (reward), and sometimes a “convenient price”. Habit would be much easier to form for day-to-day disposable and cheaper products than for higher-end luxury products. No wonder why we inadvertently pick Alpenliebe from the jar instead of other brands. No wonder why we step in the closest store to our homes in order to save time and effort. Despite higher brand image of “Firebox”, we choose “Vorosha” because it is widely available to our nearest stores. Once we get habituated to “Bikash”, we don’t even want to consider other options of mobile banking. How about habit of using free internet from Facebook (http://www.internet.org) via Robi would change our internet consumption pattern in future? Next time, sustaining and reinforcing “Habit” could be in your branding agenda. (For a quick review, watch this presentation on the book titled “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg).
Salesman cannot be silent, it simply won’t work unless he/she is already selling a hyped product. So what would you do? Put salespeople round the clock around customers and retailers? That’s not the case we mean here as silent salesman. It is the 24/7 communication tool that almost acts like a salesman when your real salesmen are not around. You got it now, it’s your packaging!
Packaging is the “dress-up” of your product that reflects the character and personality of the brand. The hard parts are the choice of symbol, color and composition of text that would do the job when customers look at the package. The “Wow” factor needs to be there for initial trials to occur. Granted that mere attractive packaging without ensuring core quality would backfire, yet the communication value of a well thought-out packaging design is unquestionable. Unfortunately, many times, brand managers would put more time on designing product and advertising plan rather than on conducting extensive research and testing on packaging design. Packaging has tremendous rational and emotional values to confer upon the minds of customers. Please take care of this silent salesman!
Apple devices have been known for its user-friendliness and prestige. The company boasts a loyal base of customers who would continue cherishing the brand for lifetime. When it comes to designing mobile devices, Apple has its own uniqueness and superiority in its class. However, the recent media reports indicated that Apple is interested in stepping beyond the world of mobile devices. It is interested in electric cars, most probably a driver-less car like Google’s car (click here). Dubbed by media as “i-Car”, this raises many questions in the tech world as to why Apple is interested in this venture.
Well, it should not be surprising if you knew that Steve Jobs was interested in designing a car in later part of his life. This was intimated recently to the media by one of his colleagues that Jobs was really excited to see the design of Tesla (click here). He was actually upset with gasoline powered cars and thought that car designs were lagging behind in terms of technological advancement. Cars do not need to be polluters to the environment. At the same time, cars should be online and “connected”, thus being a part of your fun experience. Apple has been hiring thousands of people from other car companies, negotiating with BMW on electric car technology issues (which BMW recently denied) and most likely working on efficient battery technologies to be used in i-Cars.
However, there is another stream of views which suspects that Apple is actively collaborating with car makers not because it wants to make cars, but because it wants to involve itself with the next generation integration of car technology and software. i-Pod integration has been a common feature in BMW cars that makes playing i-Pod in those cars an easy task. Car apps are also promoted by Apple where programs like “BMW Connected” and “BMW Link” can provide access to many applications like Facebook, web radio and navigation via mobile devices. It appears that, the future of car software, including engine monitoring, tire pressure, oil change notification and many other safety and maintenance features would be integrated into our (Apple) mobile phones. Apple just wants to know cars better so that the next generation software can make your car a connected one with all those tips on your mobile phone.
No matter what Apple is planning to do, even if it comes up with a connected i-Car, it might see a huge success among young consumers who may be willing to conserve the environment and diminish the difference between a phone and a car. The “Next Big” list of mobile devices should not only include mobile phones, Bluetooth and like, but also a car that can communicate online!
We are now living in a world where if you fail to hold my attention for ten seconds (or less?), I am going to press my remote’s button to go somewhere else. If an advertisement is not relevant, I am gonna put my eyes on the newspaper and ignore you. When the first ten seconds of your presentation is boring, I would start playing angry birds in silent mode. We are living in a world of very short length of attention. This is posing a different challenge to branding and media consumption. What are those challenges actually?
The first challenge is to catch the attention of your audience and hold it with the story. Twisting, turning, warping and suspense could be the key to stand out with the message. It gets really challenging when everybody tries to do it, particularly during major events like Super Bowl or World Cup Cricket or Football. It is not the interesting story that wins, it is the “more interesting” story that cuts through the clutter.
Second, the nature of competition means that holding sufficient attention for a longer period of time would call for a strong and sustainable value proposition. What do you stand for so that you are valuable to me? Cutting through the clutter in message delivery does not guarantee victory over others when it comes to sales. Any outstanding message can result in message retention and recall, but if customers say that I love the ad but I don’t need that product—that means the communication has failed to promote “relevance” to customers. Customers have more tools in a connected world to judge a brand. Outstanding ads could definitely increase traffic to your site or store, but conversion depends on many other factors.
In a ten second world, you could either become a king quickly or die dumb biting the ground in a steep fall.
If you ever worked for customer services, you probably found most customers fair and nice. Keeping aside some really rude customers, albeit they might have all the reasons in the world to be so, you cannot probably satisfy all customers that seek the desired service from your company. However, you can still try your best to keep that zero satisfaction at bay. Probably you know by now that a polite explanation why you cannot deliver the service to your customers oftentimes appeases their anger on the company. “Attitude” is the central key in managing customer service excellence. Thus, it is not always the service that you provide or you fail to provide that matters. It is the “attitude” that you show, while delivering or not delivering the service, that matters most. It is about showing empathy to your customers’ causes. It is about expressing sincere intention to help that matters. Can we practice this “free” yet valuable attitude while delivering customer services?
When it comes to running household errands, for example, shopping at your local store for a pack of cookies, most of us would probably go to our favorite store despite having multiple alternative stores in our localities. Do brands have something to learn from this customer behavior? Should brands be indifferent about this behavior since almost similar assortments are carried by most of these retailers? If not, what brands need to do to win shelf space in these apparently popular local stores?
There could be multiple reasons why many of us might have a strong store choice. It could be the location that seems convenient. It could be the pleasing appearance and decoration of the store that provide customers with positive experience. Such positive experience may also be enhanced through courtesy and helping attitude of sales persons behind the counter. When it comes to local stores at our doorsteps, some stores would be able to manage a stable base of customers through “social behavior”, like getting to know customers personally and engage customers through chit-chats during the shopping time. Some stores may simply win because of their ability to shorten customers’ shopping time by employing more salespeople to serve when it gets crowded. Some customers would deliberately choose those local stores that have no problem to change a 1,000 taka note for an item costing Tk. 50! You call it “customer service” at the store level.
Brands must be aware of such retailer behavior that greatly impacts customer behavior. While it would be an enormous task to train local shop-owners on how to deal with customers, what brands can do is to develop a ranked list of retailers based on their customer friendliness. When it comes to fighting for shelf-spaces, the popular stores should get the first attention. Have you been able to identify the popular stores in your category?
Coca Cola is about to launch “Fairlife”, a premium milk brand in the USA this time. In a market characterized by falling demand and fierce competition among on-the-shelf competitors, Coke’s move raised many questions as to why it has to move into this market at this time.
Coke has invested into dairy business for some years, and currently not expecting any profit from this category. However, the company has priced the brand almost twice the average price of regular milk brands that are currently available in the market, and expecting to earn high profits in later years. The premium milk is produced through a proprietary technology using high-tech filters that yield high protein, high calcium, yet low sugar (lactose) contents in the processed milk. Interestingly, this “healthy” milk requires no addition of protein or calcium powder to increase its proportion in the milk, rather the proprietary filter does the job! Presumably, this is expected to reduce the costing part of the production that already gives Coke an advantage over competitors in this category. Making sure that the brand comes in popular flavors, this is expected to “storm” the market after an already successful test-marketing campaign in different US cities. Coke is not currently planning to roll-out the brand elsewhere in the world, which seems to be a cautious move to “wait and see” how the real-time marketing goes at home.
It appears that Fairlife may not attract new customers who would start consuming milk just because Coke has launched something new, rather make some customers switch to its brand on the plea of “healthiness”. Now it is time to see whether a high-tech and low cost advantage can be transformed into a profitable venture in a falling market.