Building a successful brand is harder than ever in today’s Amazon world. Learn what makes a successful brand strategy today.
July 8, 2019
Rumors of the death of retail have been greatly exaggerated. Though store closings are indeed at record levels, “[s]tores that have learned how to match the ease and instant gratification of e-commerce shopping are flourishing.”
In other words, brands that embrace an omnichannel brand strategy not only meet today’s consumer expectations, they also connect with more valuable consumers: omnichannel consumers that visit stores after online research spend 13% more in-store than those that do not first visit a store’s website.
“The retailers that get it recognize that Amazon has forever changed consumer behavior,” Barbara Kahn, a marketing professor and former director of the retailing center at the Wharton School, told the New York Times.
Retailers offering improved in-store experiences see a 14% increase in conversions, according to PSFK Research. Appropriately, brands plan to double spend in retail experiences.
With consumer behavior changed across the board, this omnichannel approach to brand strategy certainly doesn’t only apply to retail brands with brick-and-mortar locations.
“[B]rand strategy is how, what, where, when and to whom you plan on communicating and delivering on your brand messages,” according to Entrepreneur. But the definition is the easy part; developing and maintaining an effective brand strategy is complex and requires evolution.
Brand strategy evolved from a mass market focus in the 1960s and 70s, to today, where brands focus on personalization as consumers increasingly expect them to be consistently relevant on a personal level.
“[I]n this new era of digital-based competition and customer control, people are increasingly buying because of a brand’s relevance to their needs in the moment,” states the Harvard Business Review. “[C]ompanies are losing $1 trillion in annual revenues to their competitors because they are not consistently relevant enough... the future of marketing — and, in the big picture, many businesses — depends on serving a customer’s most relevant needs in the moment.”
When brands make the shift to personalization, they connect directly with consumers — particularly after the purchase — and become relevant like they never could before.
“To create meaningful relationships, brands need to adjust their mind-set from being a product manufacturer to a facilitator of more direct and value adding interactions with consumers,” according to research from Deloitte. “[B]rands will have to shift from owning the aisle to owning the consumer.”
How are these connections made?
“The digital age is opening up new, exciting opportunities for brands to find common values and connect with consumers,” continues the report. “Technologies such as augmented reality (AR), wearables, voice and the Internet of Things (IoT) can facilitate the collection and exchange of data with consumers at any location, on any topic and at any time of day.”
Consider the importance of these new opportunities for brands that sell through retailers: no longer do brands lose connection with their products after shipment to retailers. Instead, the products now become their connection point to consumers. As another use case, brands in regulated industries like alcohol and cannabis now have new ways to connect directly with the end consumer.
For example, Mr & Mrs Italy, an Italian luxury outerwear brand, embedded Near Field Communication (NFC) chips into a line of parkas, effectively digitalizing their products and turning them into smart products. Tapping those chips with a phone activated a digital experience that reassured prospective buyers the product was not counterfeit. Additionally, a different experience shown when the chip was tapped after purchase invited purchasers to register their product, giving Mr & Mrs direct consumer information they otherwise would not have had, highlighting the importance of brands staying connected directly with consumers after purchase.
The post-purchase journey, or last mile of commerce, is equally as critical to the entire customer lifecycle as what happens before a purchase.
Marketing expert Scott Galloway defines brand strategy as “all the emotional and tangible touchpoints surrounding a product.” He says the portion of the consumer journey following purchase is left out of this strategy, and recommends brands shift focus from pre-purchase and purchase to post-purchase when brand building.
“Post-purchase intelligence where we take data from the purchase and use it as a means of whipping the consumer back around into that purchase funnel again,” Galloway says.
Adweek sums up the importance of post-purchase: “many merchants still believe their job ends with a transaction, which is a short-sighted way of thinking… The post-purchase journey, or last mile of commerce, is equally as critical to the entire customer lifecycle as what happens before a purchase.”
Brands investing large amounts of money in improving the value chain only up to the purchase point clearly miss an important aspect of consumer interaction. Smart brands today that find ways to stay relevant to consumers post-purchase see more lifetime value, even as consumer journeys through marketing funnels become increasingly complex.
Google research finds today’s marketing funnels actually look more like “pyramids, diamonds, hourglasses, and more.”
“[M]arketers can no longer plan on a linear journey,” the article continues. “Today, consumer choice heavily influences reach and frequency. They’re choosing to engage with brands that are relevant, helpful, and personal.”
And we’re back to the importance of relevance. With the buying journey more unpredictable than ever, successful brands will maintain that relevance at multiple touchpoints throughout the purchase cycle, including into the all-important post-purchase.
Marketing professor Barbara Kahn, quoted above, puts simply how the Amazon effect on retailers is translated by today’s consumer: “I shouldn’t have to work to shop.”
Consumers also won’t work to connect to brands. But, as the Mr & Mrs Italy example illustrates, consumers will make that connection when there is incentive to do so. The brand reached the consumer where they were (wearing their product), provided information they needed (verification of authenticity) and established a connection that lasts far beyond the purchase.
Meeting your consumers where they are comes in many forms, and smart brands will hit them all. These include personalized marketing, smart products and packaging, wearable tech and much more.