Posted in Operations & IT Articles, Total Reads: 628
, Published on 22 November 2015
In a marketing scenario, a conversation can be either among customers or between a brand and its present or future customers. Like any conversation, there are some rules of engagement which determine what is acceptable and what’s not.
ARE WE ON THE SAME PAGE?
Let’s take a minute to understand how people behave in the internet era. Often referred to as Generation C, not necessarily grouped by age, they thrive on Connection, Community, Creation and Curation. These individuals seek authentic content across platforms and screen sizes. They are hard to reach via traditional communication channels. The Internet is their primary source of entertainment and information. Creating content is second nature to them, carefully choosing the relevance and impact of the content. They share content to provoke response and reinforce emotional connections with their community. They have a time crunch and are very selective about their media and how it is consumed.
For this generation, Brands are welcome in the community as long as they have something valuable to offer. The cost of entry however is being authentic, engaging and share worthy. If the brand is not authentic or relevant, they are ignored and skipped over.
ZERO MOMENT OF TRUTH
Back in 2006, When Proctor and Gamble coined the ‘Moment of Truth’ to streamline their marketing communication, they had something substantial. It starts with a trigger that is created to fulfill a specific need. The need may be driven by advertisements. The brand faces the First Moment of Truth when the consumer sees the product in a retail store. This consumer touch point deals with everything that is necessary to push the consumer to pick up a P & G product rather than a competitor offering. The Second Moment of Truth is when the consumer experiences the product. The experience has to fulfill what was promised earlier. If not, the brand’s authenticity is questioned, otherwise you have a loyal customer who advocates the brand thereby bringing in more customers.
Proctor and Gamble had it right. But as consumers’ habit change, the way they make decisions also change. Always Online generation has access to a large variety of information. Mobility and social platforms allow sharing knowledge faster and on a scale that is unprecedented. Come 2010, Google added the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) to the P & G model for the internet age. The ZMOT is a new touch point for the brand to engage with its prospects. ZMOT is a free-for-all, complex, information searching phase where number of sources can be enormous.
If you are a product company looking to get new customers to try your product, this is where you have the greatest chance of making inroads. Let’s take an example of a person looking to buy an amazon kindle. He is quite unsure about how the product compares to a full featured tablet. He goes online and looks at specifications of the device. It is not enough. He looks at an unboxing and video review for the product to see how it works and how it feels to hold. He has more information now but is still unsure about the purchase. He goes through a series of product reviews to see how others see value in the product. He comes across one of his friends who is delighted with his new kindle and how it is the best device for readers. He finally decides to purchase the product.
Imagine the complexity of managing such a customer. This is how people make decisions in the internet age. It is evident that it takes up a lot of resources for a consumer to arrive at a decision. The process can last several days or even weeks. The good thing is once the consumer is satisfied with the decision, he/she becomes a loyal customer. It creates a loyalty loop where the consumer directly jumps to purchase whenever the trigger is generated again. There is no need for a ZMOT, at least not in the short run.
Brands need to anticipate behavior and place breadcrumbs for their prospects. Therefore, the essence of brand engagement is for the content creation teams to come up with strategy for customers to be able to make an informed choice of the brand over others. It is essential to utilize existing customers and their voice of advocacy to elevate the brand.
AUTHENTICITY MAKES THE DIFFERENCE
So now the question comes down to how the brand should engage its current and future customer. The thought is Authenticity. Being authentic is not just about being good, honest or charitable. No doubt these are good qualities to have, but the trick is to be consistent with the brand values. For example: Imagine Happydent decides to go for a women empowerment campaign. Is this what we expect from Happydent? No doubt, it is a good cause and people may endorse it. However if it is out of sync with what Happydent is all about, the business objective may not be fulfilled.
CASE IN POINT
In 2010, Pepsi opted out of its Super bowl advertisements and decided to spend the entire budget of $20 million to fulfill ideas that have positive impact on community. The Pepsi Refresh project was a head turner with the online community, creating buzz for the brand. However, it did not result in what Pepsi had hoped for. In 2011, the sales declined pushing Pepsi down to third place for the first time. Diet coke had overtaken Pepsi on the number two spot. Despite a high engagement campaign with over 61 million votes casted for ideas, Pepsi could not achieve its target revenues. The case helps us understand how high brand engagement may not necessarily lead to loyalty, if it is out of sync with brand values.
The ultimate aim for all marketing activities is to improve profitability and market share. Loyal customers stabilize market share. A high churn rate restricts growth prospects. If a company just acquires new customers and loses them to competitors, it makes it very difficult to survive and grow.
This article has been authored by Vinay Tyagi from IIM Ranchi