These services go beyond basic customer service. They go beyond expectations. These services provide rich content, tips and advice on dedicated web sites and interactive media. Tip: it’s time to utilize mobile online connections with special apps now. The right kinds of services seize consumers’ attention in a compelling manner. They elicit excitement, buzz and buy-in. They build meaningful relationships.
National brands must stop thinking in terms of how much great content and services they are giving away. They must start thinking in terms of how a stronger base can be built for their brands once they are perceived as the “experts” ... the “source”, the “only choice” within a category.
In exchange for terrific free services, tips and advice, interactive media opens the door to valuable insights for manufacturers. Brand managers can find out:
- How consumers are using the kinds of products they offer.
- How they may be adapting them for additional or different uses than originally intended.
- How the products assist them and integrate into their busy lives.
- How they may be making their lives easier.
These insights are more relevant than those gleaned from focus groups. Answers to questions framed in the context of actual usage and free-flowing dialogue are often more clearly articulated than those obtained from isolated consumer panels.
Armed with new insights, marketers can focus on realigning brand communications that are most relevant to an evolved customer directly into every marketing channel. Tip: revitalized web sites and product packaging are top priorities.
Data shows consumers are increasingly relying on web sites for product information before they buy. Leveraging relevant communication customers are responding to is crucial. But remember: final purchase decisions are made at the retail shelf almost 70% of the time. If packaging isn’t speaking to consumers in their new vernacular, it represents limitless lost sales opportunities. Even worse: it fails to connect the brand to consumers and their new values.
Ideas? Whole Foods Market is using a well-conceived iPhone app to assist busy consumers with downloadable recipes. Shopping lists can be generated with one click on the recipe. Customers then find out which ingredients are on sale in the stores. Users are encouraged to share their favorite recipes with friends. Ingenious way to build buzz, quickly and easily, isn’t it?
How does this concept work for consumers who are seeking time-saving, money-saving advice? It’s like having a private shopper service that can be consulted when most convenient for the customer, and it’s always right at hand. Why can’t national brands get creative like this?
P&G’s Olay brand offers free online consulting for consumers with every skin type. Olay for You asks consumers to select from a menu of questions, targets their concerns, and offers appropriate products to address their specific needs. Each product brought up on the screen can be purchased online or in stores. How’s that for expert help without having to seek out skincare experts?
These brands are pioneering the way. They’re evolving with the consumer. Expertise and service leads consumers to brands. It builds demand and leads to loyalty by making sure all marketing communications are in alignment and keeping pace with consumers’ needs.
At a time when courting and keeping customers is a tall order, helpful content and new services in all channels go a long way to delivering brands in a relevant, connective manner. Retailers, like consumers, will see the value in brands like these, ensuring they will survive and thrive.