#10Q: Relevance is key to brand survival
Jennifer Perry unpacks the necessity of understanding consumers’ motivations and key questions brands should ask.
Jennifer Perry is the senior director, cognitive science and audience strategy at Acceleration. She explains how brands can continue to thrive and attract new customers, beyond the current crisis. Those that emerge from the COVID-19 crisis will be brands with a clear, deep, and actionable audience strategy. The current consumer mindset is “distracted, overburdened with content and, quite likely, [to] have less disposable income available to them”, she wrote recently in a report for Acceleration in which she unpacks the necessity of understanding consumers’ motivations and the key questions brands should ask.
1. How should brands behave right now?
Those that are looking beyond the current crisis will be able to emerge with greater brand equity. Tomorrow’s leaders are already laying the foundation for future success. These agile brands are building the human understanding it takes to create long-lasting experiences that will linger with consumers after the current crisis.
2. What do brands do to connect with their customers?
In a survey conducted by Wunderman Thompson, 92% of respondents said they admire companies that are taking action to alleviate the impact of the coronavirus. This points to the emotional link consumers make with brands. And given the fact that this pandemic affects all consumers in one way or another, it is an opportunity for brands to respond in a way that reflects empathy and understanding of their audience’s needs. Businesses that wish to engage with consumers more meaningfully during this crisis and sustain brand equity beyond its end, need to humanise audiences through a clear understanding of their emotions and motivations.
3. How do businesses need to shift their thinking?
To engage with and nurture prospects, businesses need to shift their thinking away from “Who can we target right now?” to “Who can we effectively influence?” and “What do we have to offer that is personally relevant?” This will enable brands to isolate their “most winnable” consumers—those who businesses have the best chance of influencing, in light of the audience’s functional and emotional needs.
4. Should brands change current strategy?
These are the questions brands need to ask…
- Is there a gap in the brand’s audience strategy? Since people are engaging digitally more than ever, brands have only a few seconds to reach consumers in the moment and capture their attention with a relevant message.
- Is the brand missing relevancy? The strategy has to address the distinct decision patterns related to the brand.
- Is the brand lacking differentiation? Brand strategy needs to be customised according to the brand’s unique “winnable” audience. Similarly, this impacts the brand’s ability to differentiate and become a relevant brand that directly addresses consumers’ needs.
5. How do brands craft an empathetic and customer-centric audience strategy?
Through four pillars – Humanisation; Differentiation; Actionability; and Cohesiveness. Businesses need to deeply understand consumers’ decision-making by mapping out their motivations and emotional context.
6. Can brands connect to consumers’ motivations?
Brands need to connect their data, analytics, and research teams to bring this to life. Brands should be able to identify winnable customers with distinct motivations and have a clear engagement plan across the journey, impacting messaging and targeting as a relevancy layer to demonstrate “empathy” or a “more human” understanding of the audience.
7. Explain ‘cohesiveness’?
The way the brand shows up—should be cohesive and should consistently reflect the brand’s deep understanding of customers’ needs across all touchpoints and in every engagement.
8. What do brands do to gear towards the future?
Essentially, businesses that wish to engage with consumers more meaningfully during this crisis and sustain brand equity beyond its end, need to humanise audiences.
9. How do you do that?
By developing a clear understanding of their emotions and motivations. These are the fundamentals of developing a clear, deep, and actionable audience strategy—one that underpins an empathetic and highly relevant brand experience.
10. Last word?
Like any relationship, engaging with consumers is a two-way street, which involves not only what businesses “want to say” but also what consumers “want to hear”. Brands must always be prepared to engage in a personally relevant, contextual way, but this is especially true in our present situation.
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