The Language of Love

In 2004, Kevin Roberts, CEO Saatchi & Saatchi coined the term “LOVEMARKS”. He claimed it was the Future beyond Brands. He said Brands have run out of juice and people are looking for brands to offer them benefits that go beyond purchase. He also published a thesis under the same name that took the marketing world by storm and won a $430million contract from JC Penney.

What sounds like some sort of a ‘hickie’ at first, will go on to radically change a marketer’s mindset, once understood the language being spoken.

We have to forget the marketing gyan learnt at B-School, the Segmenting, targeting, positioning analysis being implemented at work and activate our emotional senses if we were to understand what was named as one of the “Ideas of the decade” by Advertising Age.

MARKETING – WAR or LOVE?

While marketers were using a language of war -target, penetrate and ambush, Kevin Roberts introduced the language of Love- mystery, sensuality and intimacy.

To the wrath of many marketers, Roberts claimed, consumers make decisions with their emotions over reason and explained the journey by which brands can move from being respected to being loved.

This invited wrath because most of us hate to admit that we use logical reasons to only substantiate our purchase decisions but the truth really is, it is our Emotions that guides our purchase.  In other words, we use logical reasoning to rationalize our emotional longing.

“The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action while reason leads to conclusions.” – Brain Sheehan, Author Loveworks.

Now that the veil has been removed, marketers can start speaking a different language to lure customers towards them. From a language that says “I am No.1, I offer best quality” to the language of love that says “I care, I belong to you and I want to bring you happiness”.

LOVE TRIUMPHS:

Brands that appeal to the deepest emotions of customers have tasted success and victory over brands that appeal to the intellect and basic instincts of customers.

Some tangible proof to substantiate the above statement (Indian context)

MARUTI SUZUKI – INDIA COMES HOME IN A MARUTI

Voted India’s most trusted brand under the automobile category, Maruti Suzuki has gains something that goes beyond respect and trust. It’s loved by its customers. In a market space, cluttered by foreign players like Toyota, GM, Renault, Nissan, Hyundai, Honda and Indian counterparts like the Tata motors and Mahindra, Maruti has won loyalty over many.

This “Loyalty goes beyond reason” just as LOVEMARKS describes. Of course, their cars are good in quality and performance, but they managed to establish an emotional connect with the customers unlike the rest. And that’s what sold them cars. It’s very evident in the taglines used in their communications.

As a brand, Maruti resonated with the feelings and emotions of an average Indian with “Kitna deti hai?’, ‘India comes home in a Maruti Suzuki’, “Happiness, family size”, “The Heart Car” and the likes. Maruti spoke the Language of LOVE to win over its customers.

CADBURY – SHUBH AARAMBH (Auspicious Beginning)

Creativity lies in the ability to bring out positive emotions among the viewers with a simple concept. And nobody does this better than Cadbury’s.

Cadbury Dairy Milk launched the campaign, “Shubh Aarambh” on 2ND July, 2010. This is the second commercial launched by Cadbury Dairy Milk under the umbrella of the “Shubh Aarambh” campaign. Similar to its previous campaigns, Cadbury’s stayed on the course of creating moments of love amongst Indians.

The campaign is based on the concept of the Indian tradition of having something sweet before every auspicious occasion, with the belief that it leads to a favorable outcome. The campaign was an instant success.

The formula was just the same- Cadbury spoke the simple language of love.

The commercials that Cadbury’s rolled out were created settings that are typically realistic and   the situation is something most of us have/would experience in our own lives.  Being a British firm, Cadbury’s did an amazing job to resonate with Indian customers; tap into their emotional mindset and eventually scored high in terms of respect and emotional connect.

As a result, ‘Cadbury Dairy Milk’ alone has a 30% share value in the Indian chocolate market.

A critic would say this is some sort of Marketing trick, but brands that use the powerful combination of superior products and emotional engagement will be the ultimate winners in this ever-changing, ever-demanding market space.

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THE NEXT CHAPTER IN THE BRAND-CONSUMER LOVE STORY

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BRAND AID

A.I.D. – Anything I’ll do FOR YOU

AID is:

  • Letting customers TRY-OUT first.

Customers these days are enjoying end-less FIRST-TIMES on a daily basis. Marketers call them VIRGIN CONSUMERS. In a rapidly evolving market, customers are game to try out unfamiliar brands, products and services very often.

How many times we enter into an unfamiliar restaurant in town? A café, an app, a salon, a pub? We love to try-out stuff.

However Brands that AID, should lure customers to try them out. And when they do that, they should make the experience enjoyable, intuitive and most importantly FUN.

For instance: Marks & Spencer’s Virtual Manicure. It is a free online and in-store service which enables customers to test the UK retailer’s nail polish range on their own fingers. Shoppers upload an image of their hands and then click on a nail color to see what it would look like before they purchase it.

AID is:

  • Help customers find anything REAL-TIME.

Today’s Customers are impatient.  Remember the Airtel Broadband ad that aired in 2009? The campaign made this statement- “Impatience is the new life.”

Airtel captured this brilliantly – Young? Energetic? Raring to go? You belong with us. We are the Impatient Ones and we are very proud of it.”  Now that’s why AIRTEL is loved and respected as a Brand. They knew that today’s GEN-X have no time to wait and they needed their demands to be met REAL-TIME.

imaptient one

Brands that AID, help customers meet their demands without having to wait for it too long.

Only Brands that understand their customers too well and love them enough can do this.

 More instances of Brand AID:

TESCO is planning to launch project “STORE TREK”, that allows you to shop in a ‘virtual store’ where visitors can walk through the aisles and put items into a basket – all without leaving their living room.

Read it here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2205408/Online-shopping-goes-virtual-perfect-recreation-supermarket-walk-leaving-sofa.html

Mobile apps are already available that AID customers to search and compare prices of retailers in a shopping mall and call retailers to check availability and place orders with just one click.

 AID is:

  • Helping customers SAVE MONEY.

Customers like Brands that help them save money. You don’t need to be a financial advisor for that. It just shows you CARE.

Yes, we have seen mobile service providers and airline companies do this very often but they are more like offers. It has to be a genuine AID.

Virgin Media offers its customers one such AID.

Save-rental_H1

Read it here http://store.virginmedia.com/phone/about-virgin-media-fibre-optic/line-rental-saver.html

 Samsung’s Upgrade Programme:

The Samsung Upgrade promotion encourages US customers to trade in old smart phones in     exchange for a Galaxy. After purchasing the Galaxy S2, S3or Note, users upload information about their used smart phone to Samsung’s Facebook page and receive a quote for its value. Consumers send off their old device in return for a check of up to USD 300.

AID is:

  • Help customer’s FEEL GOOD.

Some brands do more than just make us buy them. They make us love them. A brand that creates emotional joy is a rare thing.

Brands that AID us to Feel Good are brands that that triggers our emotions and connect with us. Such brands make us happy, make us feel we’re part of something bigger, let us help, make us feel like a kid again and a whole bunch of other stuff that makes us Feel Good.

Take Coca-Cola for instance. The Brand tagline says “Open Happiness”. For years the brand has been communicating the joy of being together with people you love and the good times it brings when you share a Coke during the occasion.

coca_cola_bubbles

“There’s not a person alive who can hold a can of Coke and not have a fond memory,” said Richard Laermer, author of Punk Marketing.

That’s what successful brands do to you.  P&G did the same with their London Olympics campaign. It claimed we are “Proud sponsors of Moms”. It made us all Feel Good and they not only made us buy their product but they made us love them ‘cause we all love our Moms.

CSR-PG-Proud-Sponsors-of-Mom

 AID is:

  • BEING THERE for the customers, when they need you the most.

Brands can AID customers in times when they need the most, win intense loyalty from them. These Brands create a close connection with their customers and develop intimacy.

Brands that AID are often remembered long after functions and benefits have faded away.

The best example for such AID is the Rescue Drive offered by CHEVROLET’s dealer ORCA in Brazil to promote COBALT.

To promote the release of Chevrolet’s Cobalt model, Brazil-based car dealership Orca Chevrolet launched the Rescue Drive campaign in early 2012.

chevrolet-orca

The promotion targeted consumers after a breakdown, when they were likely to be frustrated with their own vehicles. Stranded drivers who called participating tow trucks were surprised by an accompanying Chevrolet Cobalt, which they were given the opportunity to test drive.

Read it here http://theinspirationroom.com/daily/2012/rescue-drive-orca/

To conclude, Brands that AID realize that they should put themselves second. This means a radical change in the mind-set that understands the days of worshipped brands are over.

vodafone_happy_to_help

As said earlier, customers these days don’t care if you’re No.1 or you’re best quality or if you offer the best price (‘cause almost every brand does this in a cluttered market). They just care about Brands “who can improve their lives” and who can connect with them emotionally.

THE BRAND-CONSUMER LOVESTORY* – conditions apply

blog image ideas.indd

FALLING IN LOVE

LOVE- It is the purest motive force. It is the very essence of Human Emotions.

David Suzuki, a Canadian academic and environmental activist quoted “I see ourselves as Social creatures. And what is the fundamental bottom-line for us all as Social creatures? It sounds all hippy-dippy but it is LOVE! LOVE is the force that makes us fully human!”

Somehow in the process of money-making, it is forgotten. As corporations became the dominant institutions of the 20th century, the Governments and its policy makers around the world became responsive to them. We as consumers were happy and satisfied as long as a product/service fulfills its Core needs.

Today we live in an EXPECTATION ECONOMY. David Ogilvy once said “The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife”. She doesn’t care if you say you’re “good quality”, if you’re No.1. She goes for someone who makes her HAPPY, who she thinks is right and is responsive to her desires and suggestions.

In today’s market place, a good part of consumers are living in an Age of Intrusion– i.e. consumers receive a message from a company/Brand convincing them to buy their products, whether they like it or not. They leave no control over when or how it is delivered to them.

But slowly we are moving into an Age of Invitation . It means customers decide who (BRANDS) to invite into their lives. It is already evident in developed economies like US and parts of Europe.

Customers in these economies face Choice-saturation. Their response? They invite Brands that offers them a product that goes beyond the Thrill of possessionBrands that ”know” their customers and consider their suggestions, opinions and desires.

C.K. Prahlad (named the world’s most influential business thinker by The Times) said the future of competition will be decided not by the product features but by the VALUES it generate. Values that go beyond the Thrill of Possession. One of the best ways for value creation is by offering consumers that emotional connection towards your brand. Features of a product get copied faster but not emotions that they develop towards a Brand.

Any Brand that fails to offer such values don’t “know” their customers and the customers in turn don’t “care” about such brands. This generation of customers can be termed the DKDC (Don’t know don’t care) generation. This DKDC generation in the present market scenario, wants more to identify themselves with. These identities are formed based on emotions (which are intangible) that make the brand great and last long. And what better emotion to induce than LOVE itself!

It is emotions that made APPLE to “Think Different”, Coca-Cola to “Open happiness”, P&G to become “Proud sponsors of Moms” and Vodafone “Happy to help you”.

From love to engagement

Now that the Brands “know” their customers and have established a human connection with them, what should they do to win them over?  The answer is simple: ENGAGE them.

Engage the customers and give them an opportunity to take part in production of services/products. This concept in inspired from the success of online consumption. Consumers LOVE online because when it comes to online consumption, they can act, participate, talk, create & adjust to get what they want. Now, they expect the same from ‘offline’ consumption.

Obviously consumer involvement in products and services pre-launch has been building for years. Think co-creation / CUSTOMER-MADE which is still an active trend.

A consumer engaging in co-creation is often looking to showcase his or her own design or marketing talent. But research says Consumers will embrace even more ways to participate in the creation and funding pre-launch of new products and brands. The trend is named PRESUMERISM.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was named TIME magazine’s Person of the year because he did just that. He ENGAGED his customers by allowing them to build their own profiles, to “share” and “comment” what they “like” and express what they feel.

THE RELATIONSHIP STATUS: FROM SINGLE TO ENGAGED

PRESUMERISM is the involvement of customer with pushing, funding, and promoting products and services before they are launched in the market.

Thanks to the crowd sourcing platforms and new manufacturing technologies that are finally tipping into the mainstream facilitating consumers to PRESUME-Consuming in the future tense! Presumers are worshipping the cult of NEWISM, with its legitimate promise of newer, more, better, special, faster and so on.

They are coming together around pre-launch products or services they love,  by helping to make a product become a reality through funding and giving feedback and supporting.

When PRESUMERS not only connect with a pre-launch product or service, and support that project towards launch, but also make it their status stories on social networking sites. It makes for a great STATUS STORY to tell, tweet, post, and otherwise share.

So, PRESUMING puts consumers one step ahead: not only the status of having the right product, but also the status of having been involved pre-launch.

“Who gives a crap “is one such project that became a reality due to Presumerism, which otherwise would not have been possible in the mainstream market.

Launched in Melbourne, Australia in August 2012, Who Gives a Crap is a new brand of toilet paper dedicated to building toilets in the developing world. Motivated by news that 2.4 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation, founder Simon Griffiths set out to create a use-every-day product that could help change this. Who Gives a Crap will give 50% of all profits to help build new toilets in the developing world, forever. The new brand turned to Indiegogo to raise funds and support. PRESUMERS embraced them, funding USD 50,000 of pre-sales in 50 hours.

 I belong with you – It’s time to give back

Presumerism is just one way of engaging your consumers.

Recession or no recession, in long term, one of brands’ major quests is for more ecologically sustainable activities. The best way to justify capitalism is by giving-back to the society! More than ever in the coming days, there is great symbolic value in creating new, environmentally beneficial life out of a consumer product.

And symbolic, even playful statements of your brand’s values will resonate with consumers. Especially if they are seen as expressions of larger intent to take more meaningful action.

STATUS STORIES are even more potent if they’re not simply about a great product or service, but about a broader movement or cause that the consumer believes in, providing a sense of belonging.

Now, many PRESUMERS are passionate about the products they support, which is why Kickstarter (A Crowd-sourcing platform) can claim that a product idea is eight times more likely to be fully funded on Kickstarter than sold and successfully launched through a US corporation.

Eg: “Save Tiger” campaign by Aircel, Greenathon Initiative by TOYOTA.

*Conditions apply

However, these increasingly business-savvy consumers are often looking for both a financial and an emotional return, and therefore only brands that are open, friendly, honest, trusted, transparent, and somewhat ‘human’ will prove able to attract loyal and committed customers.

Brands need to go Full Frontal. Not just transparent, but naked and proud. In the mega-trend of transparency, brands must move from ‘having nothing to hide’, to pro-actively showing and proving they have nothing to hide, and go beyond uttering lofty statements on ‘values’ or ‘culture’ to real, unambiguous and clear evidence, or statements about actual results.

No, not all consumers will be this demanding, but as total transparency becomes a hygiene factor, even those that aren’t, will expect brands to prove their ethical and environmental credentials to those that do care.

The end

“And they lived happily ever-after”- would be the best way to draw curtains to a love story. But Marketing is no fairytale. Customers are ever-changing and evolving.  But a brand that inherits the above qualities will never run out of romance in the BRAND-CUSTOMER relationship.