Why brands must woo, and not pursue, consumers

The right way to look at your consumer is by asking yourself one question: If you were your own brand's consumer, how would you like the brand to treat you?

Published: Mar 18, 2020 09:16:21 AM IST
Updated: Mar 18, 2020 09:24:38 AM IST

consumer wooingImage:Shutterstock

She loves me, she loves me not. An archaic game played with a flower roulette, with the last petal pluck predicting the direction-of-desire of the object of affection. Many would have thought this game to have gone out of circulation, but you will see its fashionable popularity among brands even today, most playing it frequently to probe their consumers’ affection. If it’s any saving grace, this game of vanity still gives half a chance of succeeding.

To be desired by one’s beloved is every human’s most ardent wish. Most brands seek similar affection from their consumers. Wishing and yearning, however, are not enough to beget someone’s liking. It takes much more.

Seeking the amorous affection of someone begins with courtship, a process of wooing, often requiring genuine affection, patience, understanding and empathy. Wooing is different, even contrary to the concept of pursuit, and most often people and brands make the mistake of making the latter their strategy.

To bring out the stark differences between the two terms, I use the help of a dictionary:
To pursue: To follow; to chase in order to catch, overtake, capture, kill, etc.
To woo: To seek the favour, affection, or love, especially with a view to a long-term relationship.

Many people see love as a pursuit and unfortunately lose their desired ones in this process, for affection cannot be won as if it were a hunt. Most brands, too, only see the process of gaining customers as an ardent dedicated chase, leading to not dissimilar consequences. The language of marketing which includes terms like market share, share-of-wallet, conversion rate, customer acquisition cost or customer mindshare is typical of the pursuit mentality.

On the other hand, the language of wooing includes terms like curiosity, cultivating relationship, caring, intimacy, admiring and doting. Pursuit is the start of a one-sided transaction; wooing, the beginning of a life-long relationship. In a pursuit, one is the object of a chase, while when being wooed, one becomes an object of desire.

Is your brand a chaser or is it a suitor? Which rhetoric does it use? Does your brand see a customer as someone it has bagged or does it see the customer as a relationship that the brand will do anything to nourish? To become a desired brand, these are questions that every brand must ask itself.

It is equally important to measure brands on their desire quotient, as an acknowledgment to the brands which have taken the difficult path to woo their customers with a long-term relationship in their minds and hearts. 

The right way to look at your consumer is by asking yourself one question: If you were your own brand’s consumer, how would you like the brand to treat you? Would you like to be pursued or wooed? That should settle any consumer-related conundrum and encourage you to woo your customer, not pursue them. 

● The writer is the chief executive officer of tra research

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(This story appears in the 27 March, 2020 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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