Posts tagged "Higher Purpose"

The new marketing paradox: belief over benefit

October 18th, 2018 Posted by brand marketing, brand strategy, CMO, Consumer insight, Emotional relevance, Higher Purpose, storytelling 0 comments on “The new marketing paradox: belief over benefit”

Values even more powerful than product story

Every brand in the food and beverage universe is looking for advantage and traction in a business environment that tends to reward the unique and disruptive. What might be most telling about the shifts in consumer behaviors today, is the emergence of belief, purpose and mission as powerful platforms that connect brands with consumers.

Time to bare your soul

Since the dawn of the modern marketing and communications era, brands have been preoccupied with features and benefits. Said more simply: a laser focus on the product and its attributes. Why not, after all that’s why companies exist, right? To make a superior product and convey all of the inspiration that goes on inside it?

Except that with the rise in technology and the fall of barriers-to-entry in virtually every category have wrung out the ability to truly stand tall and alone on the mountain of superiority. Parity in virtually every category is a thing driven by tech advances that allow nearly everyone to come within shooting distance of each other on recipe, ingredients, formulation, design and related benefits. There are exceptions to this, but not a ton of them.

Sameness is a significant challenge, because despite claims to the contrary smart and adroit, informed consumers see through the marketing haze to understand that pound for pound many brands are interchangeable on the basis of product ingredients and creation alone.

Instead competition has moved now to a battle of beliefs, meaning and higher purpose. Consumers want to know what you stand for, what purpose you bring in concert with the thing you make.

Nike pounds belief and it shakes their category

The campaign around Colin Kaepernick is more Say It than Just Do It. “Believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything,” is the clarion call of our age. Whether or not you side with Kaepernick on his politics, his sacrificial stand on principle serves to put his beliefs squarely on the marketing chin. Nike celebrates the outsized commitment of this fearlessness and resolve. So what does that have to do with running shoes? Everything.

  • Consumers resonate to brands that espouse a point of view and work to enable an overwhelming desire to be part of something that is greater than themselves.

Purpose, meaning and values represent an evolution of marketing best practices — as the message moves closer to honoring the greater good than just the goods themselves.

This doesn’t imply that product communication is gone or will ever evaporate. Rather it means that higher purpose gains a pole position as an essential ingredient in the go-to-market gameplan.

As we’ve said before here at Emergent, if your company were to disappear tomorrow from the face of the earth, what would be missing from the world that people would truly miss? You can’t answer that by saying your investors and shareholders would be unhappy.

Adding value beyond the product

The health and wellness of people is an important thing. It transcends the ordinary trope of marketing as ‘please buy my product’ and places it in the rarefied air of being authentically helpful to people beyond the sale.

Here’s the irony: the degree to which brands can embrace a higher calling and become enablers of lifestyle aspirations, the more successful they will be in earning trust and permission for a consumer relationship.

To do this however, requires a more enlightened point of view about why the business exists and what it’s designed to accomplish. The goal of greater sales growth is served by emphasizing not just the sale but also a package of values that acknowledges people aren’t just walking wallets.

The Path to Higher Purpose

This is not about philanthropy and it is harder than it looks. In fact, hard enough that we have designed an entire process called Brand Sustainability Analysis to help guide a brand towards discovery or refinement of its deeper meaning.

  • Consumer insight becomes a driver to help success breakout for the very simple reason that purpose must be based on a visceral understanding of the consumer’s hopes, dreams, aspirations and concerns.

The goal is to seek alignment with these interests and the brand so it can become an advisor and guide on the pathway consumers want to follow. Health and wellness is one of those important journeys that brands should support.

The Courageous Marketer

The challenge here is the break with tradition. Features and benefit have been a default mechanism grinding the wheels of marketing for eons. We make it, we love what we make, and we sell it. To be sure. However, when trust in brands and business is at an all-time low and engagement is entirely in the hands of consumers, a different approach is required — one that will probably feel counterintuitive at first.

However once discovered and embraced, higher purpose and mission can galvanize an organization to bring focus and clarity to virtually every corner of the operation. Messaging takes on a more useful tone as the organization works to genuinely improve their users’ lives. Storytelling here immediately gets more powerful and impactful because it’s also more relevant.

Marketing no longer looks like marketing. It doesn’t walk, talk and look like a sales pitch. In doing so, trust can be cultivated. These days trust may be the most important attribute your brand can work to own. The beauty here is in the uniqueness and differentiation this path will provide.

It will require courage, but nothing worth doing can be done without it.

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Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, the healthy living agency. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies. Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

 

 

 

 

 

THE EMERGENT TRUST ENGINE: Validation Marketing™

January 24th, 2018 Posted by Agency Services, brand marketing, CMO, Consumer insight, Marketing Strategy, Retail brand building 0 comments on “THE EMERGENT TRUST ENGINE: Validation Marketing™”

A veritable mountain of consumer insight research continues to underscore the importance of transparency, integrity, ingredient quality and higher purpose to consumer purchase decisions for food, beverage and lifestyle brands they prefer. The legacy CPG and retail marketing paradigm of “interrupt and persuade” has disintegrated. The old methodology of creating strategy that invokes promises and claims around product features, formulation specs and benefits no longer resonates.

At the core of this cultural shift is one over-arching driver that enables sustainable brand relationships: Trust creation. In light of these changes, we’ve designed a new effective strategy planning approach at Emergent; one intended to anchor consumer trust and build added depth and meaning (value proposition) for a brand.

Emergent’s proprietary planning model – Validation Marketing™ – is constructed to supply tangible evidence of a company’s beliefs, behaviors and commitments to quality.

  • Our formal definition of Validation in this context is providing conclusive proof, evidence and demonstration of what we want consumers to believe about the brand and company.

Five key principles inform Validation Marketing. These foundational ideas spring from insight-research studies that chart the cultural migration from a brand’s self-reverential declarations of superiority to a focus on what consumers are passionate about and what is relevant to them.

Principle 1 – The Power of Higher Purpose

Belief and mission have never stood so strongly until now as a gateway to trusted brand relationships with consumers. A brand’s higher purpose represents a departure from transactional thinking and reflects instead what the core consumer truly cares about – what they value around beliefs and a value system that extends beyond commerce. Purpose strategy must be a reflection of the company’s unique mission, and how it’s embedded in the organization’s DNA.

Principle 2 – Trust Springs from Transparency

Openness is best served generously and often – by pulling back the curtain fully on supply chain standards, manufacturing processes, ingredient sources and quality standards. Letting the consumer in the door to observe, advise and co-create. Importantly, this also means acquiring a reflexive willingness to openly admit missteps – a very powerful and very human, laudable quality. This nurtures trust – the real pivot point in any meaningful brand relationship.

Principle 3 – The Connection of Influence to Validation

“Trusted source” credibility is now the accelerator of business communication, rather than the gross impressions or reach and frequency metrics (tonnage in media weight) that defined marketing traction for a generation.

The significance of respected influencers today is the validation they provide that reinforces and confirms what a brand or retailer says is indeed true. Influencers inform from a position of embedded trust.

Principle 4 – Emotion and Lifestyle Relevance

We know purchase decisions are made on an emotional level. Validation Marketing is based on appeals to the heart more than the head. Ultimately this is about commitments and beliefs. These subjects are best served with a heaping tablespoon of emotion and baked-in lifestyle relevance. When a company realizes and integrates its higher purpose into all aspects of how it goes to market, the outcome feeds a more emotive form of communication – one that inspires a true connection to people.

Principle 5 – The Importance of Social Proof

People respect and believe their friends, family members and other consumers ahead of any communication created by a brand. At the Pet Food Forum convention in Kansas City, presenter John Stanley of John Stanley & Associates cited research showing 93 percent of Millennials make their purchase decisions from endorsements, and of those, 66 percent came directly from friends. This helps us see social channels from a new and more productive angle: the mechanism of social proof – another step in the validation ecosystem. Social channel and user generated content tools are critical components in optimizing this channel.

Advocacy Drives Story Amplification

If friends’ recommendations matter during a purchase decision then it follows that brand fans can be powerful ambassadors providing the grist for social community and positive conversation about a brand. Getting to a trusted place where people want to become “members” of a brand community – and not merely purchasers – stems from a brand’s relevant meaning, higher purpose and its surrounding validation and advocacy.

Three Action Steps:

For food, beverage and lifestyle brands here’s a roadmap for embarking on the path to Validation Marketing success.

1. Message – Telling the stories behind how and where you source. The relentless drive for quality, the real people who manage your effort (and yes, your magic!), and the standards you’ve created to ensure repeated excellence. People want to know what goes into the foods and beverages they consume. Take people back to the farm.

2. Manner – There’s real, honest emotion around food, food experiences and the role it plays in our lives. Create context for your products within the inspiration people have in the kitchen, at the table and how they live. Connect the love people have for food and the social experiences it enables to your brand.

3. Make – Emphasize craftsmanship and attention to detail in product creation. What steps do you take to ensure the end result is the best quality? Help people understand how you do what you do. And just as important: tell consumers what you won’t do, the lines you won’t cross and the compromises you won’t make.

At the core of this approach to brand and retail marketing is the Higher Purpose you create that informs everything you do – as described in our post Building the Higher Purpose Brand.

Looking for more food for thought? Subscribe to our blog.

Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, the healthy living agency. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies.  Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

consumer interests and passions

What’s Ahead in 2017: Food Ideology Drives Business Growth

January 17th, 2017 Posted by brand marketing, Brand preference, Human behavior, retail brand relevance, shopper behavior 0 comments on “What’s Ahead in 2017: Food Ideology Drives Business Growth”

Beliefs and Business Now Bedfellows

Nielsen’s recent study, “Unlocking the Millennial Mindset” underscores just how far we’ve come on the continuum from product feature and benefit selling to something akin to religion-style commitments in how brands and retailers come to market. Millennial consumers especially expect companies to behave openly and conscientiously.

  • 81 percent want to know more about how foods are produced
  • 80 percent want access to the behind-the-scenes story on how companies operate
  • 73 percent are willing to pay more for sustainable brands
  • 81 percent are willing to pay more for foods with a health benefit
  • 51 percent check package labels for evidence of social and environmental impact

Pressing on every corner of the food and beverage industry is a pervasive consumer desire for greater meaning, higher purpose and ethical business practices from the brands and retailers they prefer.

Ideology is rapidly becoming the new ‘currency of commerce’ as consumers seek to be a part of something that’s greater than themselves. As a result deeper, genuine values and beliefs match, and in some cases exceed, improved formulas as a choice and purchase driver.

Quick litmus test:

  1. Is your business driven by a profound, visible, human-relevant belief system?
  2. Is your company grounded in and built on a higher purpose?
  3. Does your food or beverage brand have a recognizable soul?

At the root of this purpose-driven phenomenon is cultural change. And nowhere can this be seen in greater relief than the food industry’s passing of the leadership baton: emerging brands with a clear mission and belief system are gaining significant share of interest and engagement over their less ideologically-informed legacy brand forbearers.

Ideology, in fact, has risen to be an essential part of the recipe for crafting an engaging brand proposition; one that will invariably insert the consumer’s interests and passions at the top of go-to-market strategy. Some of these consumer-relevant interests and passions include:

  • Changing the food system
  • Protecting the environment
  • Eliminating hunger
  • Supporting family farming
  • Rewarding sustainable agriculture processes
  • Offering super transparency
  • Improving health and wellbeing

Brands as Enablers of Being Your Best

In essence, brands that contribute to the betterment of people and society, while rethinking industrial food practices that have defined the industry for 50 years, are on the more prosperous path. To be clear, this is deeper than company mission statement stalwarts like treating employees and vendors fairly and responsibly.

Food ideology has more in common with religious principles than it does with garden-variety mission statements.

What’s going on here? The consumer has evolved. What people care about has shifted.

The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion every year publishes the results of a national poll on New Year resolutions. And for the first time in 2017, Being a Better Person rose to number one, edging out weight loss, the perennial winner in three previous polls.

Better person-ship plays a role in how consumers are making brand and retail choices. It is an expression of their profound interest in healthy lifestyle, the environment and doing good for others.

Actions consumers take in brand purchase are now symbolic representations of the values they espouse. When a brand puts beliefs and values at the center of business strategy, it is catering to this notion of improvement in a tangible, meaningful way. The devotion to ideological principles also infers and imbues the brand with markers of higher quality and integrity.

Putting beliefs and values at the center of your business isn’t about just doing good for its own sake! In the end, brands with belief at their core are in alignment as enablers – helping people be, and achieve, their best. The metrics of this approach will continue to play out in share shifts and emergence of new categories. These new categories will arise from innovations; not just in formula or ingredients, but also in brand and business behavior and credo.

The Higher Purpose Audit

So what’s the optimal approach? There’s no one-size fits all solution. Every business is unique and requires a custom-designed approach – whether it’s refinement of a current mission or the development of a new strategy from scratch.

Emergent provides this due diligence in the form of a Higher Purpose Audit designed to assess current conditions in a client’s category, an inventory of brand and business practices and behaviors that may be aligned or inconsistent with the right ideology. We translate that audit into tangible strategies and ideas that will inform brand position, marketing and communication.

The end game: harnessing the requirement of true ideology as a business builder.

Looking for more food for thought? Subscribe to our blog.

Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, the healthy living agency. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies.  Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

ROP eBook on iPad

Purpose as Center of Business Strategy

November 17th, 2016 Posted by Human behavior, Insight, Uncategorized 0 comments on “Purpose as Center of Business Strategy”

Pros weigh in

Emergent recently formed a collaborative relationship with Toronto-based Fresh Squeezed Ideas, a firm focused on helping brands build stronger more relevant and powerful strategies through Behavioral Science research.

This move is consistent with our belief that deep understanding of consumer interests, passion and motivations is required to build communications that engage consumers powerfully and credibly.

Today, we are releasing our first joint publication Purpose: Driving Business Strategy – addressing one of the most important issues now at the forefront of building sustainable growth: rallying business and marketing plans around a company’s Higher Purpose.

Purpose Driving Business Strategy
Why? The purpose-built organization is in a much stronger position to generate meaningful relationships with consumers, who increasingly seek from the brands they care about values and beliefs that mirror their own.

Click here to download our featured article. I think you’ll find it an interesting overview of our shared insight.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this!

Looking for more food for thought? Subscribe to our blog.

Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, the healthy living agency. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies.  Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

The Relationship Economy

Part 2: The Emergent Credo for Food Retail Growth

October 4th, 2016 Posted by food experiences, Retail brand building, retail brand relevance, Supermarket strategy 0 comments on “Part 2: The Emergent Credo for Food Retail Growth”

Planning Insights to Leverage the Changing Dynamics

In part 1 of The Emergent Credo for Food Retail Growth we explored the changing dynamics impacting long-term success and growth of Food Retail in the U.S. Here in Part 2, Emergent, the healthy living agency, provides insights to leverage these changing dynamics for your marketing plans.

For consumers, food is a high involvement category. They are ready and willing to get involved with retailers who understand and respect their lifestyle interests and goals.

Supporting these food-centric consumers requires a strategic pivot from transactional thinking to relationship thinking in the business and marketing plan. This can best be described in three words as: help-over-hype: helping the consumer over simply hyping the product benefits.

By focusing your marketing efforts to address consumers as three-dimensional people rather than targets and engaging them as you would a friend rather than a prospect, provides the kind of authentic connection people are looking for with others and with products and services they care about. This is the “humanization” of marketing.

We will witness increased humanization of supermarket marketing strategy through the deployment of respected experts in external and store communication, including:

  • The Chef: Inspiration and Creativity
  • The Farmer: Source and Craftsmanship
  • The Culinary expert: Guidance and Learning
  • The Wellness Agent: Curating Choice and Managing Lifestyle

What role does food retail serve in this new eco-system of food friendly culture and desire for better quality?

It’s all about the food – its preparation and social experiences around the table. Thus, retail can own an important position as the architect of cooking inspiration, enhancing kitchen skills and menu ideas, providing expert healthy lifestyle guidance, while offering unique culinary experiences and sensory adventures inside the store.

All of these insights bear a common element: putting the consumer at the center of strategy and looking at the business in terms of solving their health, wellness and culinary lifestyle needs.

Four key strategic guideposts inform the recipe for growth and success:

1. Higher purpose must drive the entire retail concept and plan.

People buy belief as much as they purchase products. You mission should be front and center in the business plan. And that purpose needs to be a real, human relevant purpose not just maximizing shareholder returns and P&L objectives.

2. Relevant content, information and guidance provide the grist for customer engagement.

Help over hype is the litmus test for effective engagement at a time when consumers run in the opposite direction from self-serving sales messaging.

3. Validation is required to secure trust and belief.

The deployment of outside expert, third party voices and influencers are vital to credibility and to securing the trust of your customers.

4. Store experience closes the deal.

What happens inside your stores is the last mile to a lasting relationship. When your store inspires culinary adventure, and serves the interest in healthy lifestyle – you have the right formula for an enduring and profitable relationship.

By embracing the consumer fully in strategic planning, you immediately increase the levels of salience and relevance to their needs and interests. Retail businesses now operate successfully when relationship building is at the forefront of go-to-market strategy.

After all, we’re now living in The Relationship Economy.

Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, the healthy living agency. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies.  Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for  higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

brand story

The Art of Brand Storytelling

July 8th, 2016 Posted by brand marketing, Brand preference 0 comments on “The Art of Brand Storytelling”
The formula to get it right every time…

Been to a great movie lately? One with a story so captivating you wanted to see it more than once? Storytelling at its finest draws us in and makes us feel part of the events as they unfold. We identify with characters that seem relatable to us and we enjoy the rollercoaster ride of action and tension leading to some form of satisfying resolution.

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