The objective of a marketer is not only to make a brand more desired by a customer but to make him invest his time to build, nurture and preserve the relationship with the brand. In the entire process from buying to repeat buying, the customer tends to establish an emotional, psychological and physical engagement with the brand. This is why marketers spend millions on branding efforts that aim to get close to consumers in a way that is meaningful as well as fine-tuned with the latter’s sensitivities.
It is understandable if new brands fret about capturing buyers’ emotions, but brand managers of well heeled brands are not willing to put this agenda in the backseat. They feel any slack at their end and the consumer may defect. Why is this case?
With multiple players in each category and micro segmentation of target audience, companies are finding it difficult to gain a significant share of voice to break the clutter. Categories are more competitive than ever before, fading the line of distinction between products. This allows consumers to switch between similar products within the consideration set. To top it, customers these days no longer accept one way communication with the world. They feel the need to express their feelings, feedback and opinions about the brand. Emergence of blogging, webchats and social media forums are witness to this phenomenon giving them immense power in terms of voicing opinions through debates, discussions, etc.
In the end, the more prosumers you have, the more secure you are. This is of course dependent on the level of commitment a brand dictates, which in turn depends on how well the brand manager is engaging his customers. It is this level of customer engagement that can be a differentiator in the purchase decision process.
While the ecosystem’s dynamics are challenging, the marketer can tackle this by generating different levels of affinity between her brand and the customer. Essentially customers must feel confident about the brand. The customer should be able to trust the company and brand, which can be achieved if the company lives up to the expectations and delivers the promises made.
Consumers must feel that they are fairly treated by the organization. Customers generally tend to have realistic expectations of how they want to be treated and the organization must live upto it. Therefore customer servicing, pricing rationale, goods return policies must be above board and transparent.
A general sense of pride must be generated in a customer while using the brand. They should be unhesitatingly, enthusiastic recommenders of the product, based on their own experience of using the brand.
An engaged customer eventually becomes a loyal customer playing a momentous role in driving a company towards growth. They also prove to be the most promising source of revenue when competition turns intense and there is high volatility in the market
Traditionally, mass marketing and particularly advertising lacked customer engagement. This has prompted the brand managers to resort to alternative methods, to communicate their brand values. Communication which is interactive in nature wins over passive persuasion in establishing customer brand relationships. Digital media specifically mobile tools offer the advantage of two way communication prompting a call of action.
To take advantage of this opportunity, marketers are giving more attention to mobile advertising. According to industry estimates mobile advertising was a $25 million market in 2011 in India. It grew to $70-$80 million in 2015 and continues to grow at 60-70% annually. Firms are spending 2-4% of their overall media advertising budgets on mobile ads. This spend is expected to grow to 15-20% of the overall media expenditure by 2020.
The nature of the mobile device medium has three advantages
Reach – the mobile phone being a personal device stays with the user 24 hours giving the marketer easy access to the consumer. Further the mobile runs on battery and is not subject to the power outages that TV/ Desktop and Radios face. This enables the marketers to reach even the most rural of areas.
Interactivity – The mobile device allows the user to input choices, responses and take part in activities real time. Marketers who run schemes/ contests and surveys which require customer response find advertising through mobile particularly enticing.
Personalization – Being an individual’s gadget, the mobile phone stores all data unique to its users, for example the portals visited, products bought, social media accessed, apps downloaded etc.
Therefore advertising via this media can cover a wide range of audiences of all ages, locations, occasions and occupations. In order to ensure that the engagement experience remains delightful for the consumer, the marketer has to use the inherent characteristics of the device to optimise the brand experience.
Though mobile is poised for the future, the most important point is that the communication on any new media should be in tandem with brand values exhibited in offline media. The medium cannot be a substitute but rather a complement to other media that a brand maybe using.
- By Stuti Kumar, Assistant Professor – Welingkar Institute of Management and Research (WeSchool) Mumbai
[This article has been reproduced with permission from Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research (WeSchool)]