Posts tagged "lifestyle relevance"

Shared Values Signal Purchase Intent

September 14th, 2019 Posted by brand marketing, brand strategy, change, Consumer insight, Emotional relevance, Marketing Strategy, storytelling 0 comments on “Shared Values Signal Purchase Intent”

Are you speaking clearly or in Morse Code?

During World War II and prior to the U.S. entering the war, the British government working feverishly to counteract the devastating German Blitzkrieg, authorized the launch of a spy network intended to sabotage the Nazi war infrastructure. It was called the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and began training ordinary people with a passion for country and duty to become spies and saboteurs. Their principle form of communication would be Morse Code. The objective to avoid detection while operating behind enemy lines.

The cinematic stories of heroism and sacrifice are legion as SOE undertook its desperate calling to disrupt – by blowing up trains and power stations, often while hiding in plain sight. These days some brand communication starts to feel a bit like spy-savvy Morse Code. Businesses can find it hard to step away from internally-focused, self-reverential monologues and ‘us-speak’ to, instead, talk plainly and directly with people about what THEY care about. Conversation not code.

It was strong beliefs and shared values that underscored the passions and bravery of SOE operatives that drove their communication. Those same characteristics, passion of shared interests, values and connection, now mark the attitudinal changes governing how people interact with brands and make purchase decisions.

Consumer behavior research over the last five years has monitored the change to what we call ‘symbolic purchase’. As beliefs and values increasingly shape popular culture and thinking, we observe that people use their purchases to flag to others who they are and what they care about. Purchases have become posters of personal expression and are largely emblematic demonstrations people believe will telegraph to everyone what they think is important. Not in Morse Code but in real, observable terms.

What Are Your Values and Are They Aligned with your desired consumers?

You may have detected the increased importance of shared values in how consumers decide what brands and businesses matter enough to them to be granted a small portion of brain time, consideration and wallet. For many years, marketers were preoccupied with efforts to convey their, hopefully, superior product features and benefits in the firm belief that logic and rational arguments would hold sway. After all, it’s 25 percent faster than the other leading brand, right?

People have evolved, and our insight optics have improved. We know that humans are driven by heart-over-head – and that all purchases are influenced through emotional connectivity. Indeed, it is the absence of genuine connection that sits at the foundation of why some brands struggle to truly engage their customers.

This isn’t, by the way, a discussion of new media channels or digital platforms, mostly social, as a means to secure the engagement sweet spot. Failure to nail relevance can be traced back to overlooking a prerequisite to correctly mine the consumers’ continual search for deeper meaning.

What your brand says, does, how it behaves and the many signals it broadcasts (some intentional and some simply reflected by actions – which always speak louder than words) either reveals shared values or it doesn’t. And as such, it will resonate and motivate people to want to interact with and purchase your brand or it won’t. This is in some ways a character issue more so than about deploying clever words and phrases.

Here’s the LitmusTest:

What do your best customers care about? And that question is not a request for evaluation of your features and benefits!

  • How do they live?
  • What do they struggle with?
  • What are their aspirations and dreams?
  • What are their concerns, wants and wishes?
  • How is your brand and business an enabler and partner in making their lives better and answering their desire for deeper meaning?

In our increasingly cynical society people have become less trusting and more skeptical. The Internet amplifies this by illuminating every misstep, mistake, scandal and recall to a replay-able loop-tape of evidence that businesses tend to look after their own self-interest. In response to this, consumers yearn to connect with brands that are built around a higher purpose, a shared value system and, frankly, a “soul” that transcends commerce.

Mining the Treasure Trove of Engagement

What an amazing opportunity for the more enlightened brand-minders who can blaze a trail to long-term connection with their users. How can we create marketing that people actually want and seek out rather than work to avoid? Having the courage to disconnect the hard-sell and instead, start talking with consumers about their interests and needs is the starting line for deeper connection.

  • For example: When the pet food company recognizes it’s not in the kibble business but in the pet care relationship and guidance business, you begin to see how the brand voice should evolve and how a bond can be nurtured. How exciting to be forging connections and conversations around the lifestyle people seek out with their four-legged family members. The specific quality of nutrition and ingredients doesn’t become unimportant. Rather, it’s what chin do you lead with – protein percentages or health and wellbeing? It’s the latter.

The great news here is the treasure trove of content engagement opportunities that can be created with an audience on the hunt for a steady diet of this material.

What is the Main Goal of Marketing?

If you simmer everything down to its core essence, the mission of marketing is trust creation. We have ample evidence that trust is an elusive commodity. It’s hard to secure it and even harder to keep it.

Trust development cannot just be a “strategy” in the marketing plan. It is an outcome of the very belief system and values we’ve been talking about here. There’s no ‘fake it till you make it’ in the trust curation department.

  • The heroic performances of SOE recruits was delivered through an out-sized commitment to their mission and higher purpose. Their calling serves as a stunning example of what’s possible when more is going on than just seeking transactions.

The irony here, is the less selfish aspects of caring about the health and wellbeing of customers and contributing to achieving their life goals, in fact, feeds the relationship that leads to transactions. Fearlessly leaning into the understanding that shared values precedes the creation of any type of affinity or loyalty.  The honest development of a real bond and relationship is where all of this begins.

One of the most exciting aspects of our work at Emergent is when a client looks for guidance in this very arena and we have the extraordinary privilege of helping define what that higher purpose looks like and how it can become an anchor for business and marketing strategy.

What’s the definition of a really big idea? It’s an idea that you can immediately, obviously see how it will impact the behavior of the organization from top to bottom. The beauty of landing on this understanding is the refreshing clarity it delivers to every decision around product, innovation, organization, people and very importantly, marketing that works.

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.

 

 

 

 

makeup

The Remarkable Paradox of ‘No Commerce’ Commerce

January 31st, 2017 Posted by brand marketing, Brand preference, food experiences, shopper experience 1 comment on “The Remarkable Paradox of ‘No Commerce’ Commerce”

A counter-intuitive strategy that drives brand growth and engagement

Successful businesses sell great products. Or do they?

For the last zillion years, we’ve believed that business exists to improve people’s lives by: selling them a (hopefully) useful, necessary well-made item, while generating profitable returns to shareholders and investors. Thus, business growth spins on product superiority and continually improving features and formulas, while marketing puts a spotlight on these attributes to drive the virtuous cycle of commerce and earnings. That is, unless people stop reacting reflexively.

Having a great product is table stakes now, so what’s next?

The world has shifted dramatically though and the path to business growth and consumer engagement has changed. Today, a brand is not a thing, it’s a promise people align with, believe in and invest of themselves. Twenty first century brands are Purpose-driven. As such, there’s a deeper reason brands exist beyond transactions and financial returns.

Said another way, value creation looks a lot different. It is now based on:

  • Wants not needs
  • Feelings not facts
  • Beliefs not features
  • Purpose before profit

Guidance, coaching, insight and inspiration have become a feast of value for those with a passion for what you’re selling. Ironically, it’s when the focus moves from commerce to lifestyle enablement that trust breaks out and brand relationships form.

The Gestalt of Glossier

Glossier is a company all about beauty – that just happens to sell cosmetics, not the other way around. This is an organization since inception that understood the premise of helpful guide as a vessel for creating legions of devoted followers.

What Glossier is to beauty…

  • Yeti coolers is to outdoor lifestyle
  • Plum Organics is to parenting
  • Under Armor is to athletic passion
  • Seventh Generation is to protecting the environment
  • Blue Apron is to culinary inspiration
  • Whole Foods is to health and wellness
  • Organic Valley is to family farming

Glossier exists to celebrate beauty insights and ideas from their unique point of view. By putting the consumer’s desires and passions first and seeing the relationship as a dominant characteristic driving their decisions, Glossier hits hard on relevance and shared values. They understand the point about wants, feelings and belief.

Products are not an end in themselves. Rather, they sit in service of the users’ self-image and lifestyle interests. Glossier is a coaching organization that celebrates beauty and facilitates a community of like-minded believers.

The company does not try to be all things to all people. Even its product lines evoke a philosophy about make-up – less is more. The brand’s content channels are created by staffers mostly – who pull the curtain back to reveal their personal, real-world interests and solutions. Customers are encouraged to submit images and video of uses and ideas. Engagement is built around answering questions and enabling testimonials and feedback.

Commerce and transactional thinking are not driving the business bus at Glossier.

The outcome is prophetic. The brand has achieved a cult-like following of fans that help create routine ‘sold-out’ conditions when new items are launched. You might wonder if Glossier is spending big bucks in traditional ad channels to drive eyeballs to their platform? No. They don’t need to.

Can food brands secure a devoted following?

Food and beverage are high involvement categories that cater to a culinary and health/wellness centered lifestyle. Like beauty, creativity in the kitchen is a thing and source of personal passion and self-esteem.

Food companies can adopt the behaviors of a ‘non commerce’ commerce organization. Food is an emotional and culturally-informed business. It connects dots to health, wellness, creativity, family, relationships, social experience, romance and lifestyle.

Just as cosmetics are applied to skin and food and beverages are consumed – both are highly personal parts of living as we know it. Consumers have come to believe that the quality of what they eat will directly impact the quality of their lives. Food is not just fuel, it is a path to some of life’s most treasured experiences.

This is rich territory for mining deeper meaning, creating Purpose beyond product and enabling culinary passions. But to do so means the organization has to see itself not as an earnings machine, rather an enabler celebrating the love affair people have with food.

Bernadette Jiwa of The Story of Telling said it best: “A brand story is no longer like the top coat of gloss paint applied at the last moment to make the surface shinier and more immediately attractive. It’s the undercoat that often nobody sees, but which allows the brand to endure…” – base material integrity if you will.

Business is built from the inside out. Substance now rules over assertions of value. By deciding to serve the very human interests of consumers first, the goals of commerce can be fulfilled.

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.

Tin Man

The Trouble With The Tin Man

May 12th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 0 comments on “The Trouble With The Tin Man”
When the mechanics of business replaces heart.

Ok, so the Tin Man wasn’t supposed to have a heart because he’s a machine, right? And yet it was the heart he wanted, and most likely needed.

(more…)

Heart of Retail Growth

Role of Experience Trumps Conventional Retail Wisdom

March 29th, 2016 Posted by brand marketing, Brand preference, Retail brand building, retail brand relevance, Uncategorized 0 comments on “Role of Experience Trumps Conventional Retail Wisdom”

What’s the magic that drives retail growth?

 

I hope we can agree, more often than not, the product is the marketing these days. To be successful in retail (or packaged product for that matter), the core concept and how it’s presented has way more to do with outcomes than isolated application of an external marketing tool or social savvy communications strategy.

(more…)

Snacking at Work

Snack-ization Trend Disrupts Food Business

February 23rd, 2016 Posted by food experiences, Food Trend, Healthier habits, Insight, retail brand relevance, shopper experience, Supermarket strategy, Uncategorized 0 comments on “Snack-ization Trend Disrupts Food Business”

Clarion call for new snack destination at food retail.

Once upon time, there were three regular meals in American households. Snacks were an occasion that generally landed before and/or after dinner. Our mealtime rituals brought structure to the day: a defined beginning, an ending and some transitions in between.

(more…)

Archives

Categories