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People interact with all kinds of brands that do all sorts of things. At the end of the day, the brands that we feel the best about - the most connected and loyal to - are not necessarily the ones that do the most for us, they are the ones that make us feel the best.
The decision ‘to buy’ or ‘not to buy’ is a complex calculus, much of which happens subconsciously. In general, we buy things based upon what gives us the biggest bang for our buck. That “bang” is a meld of both physical, product interaction, and emotional benefit. We buy iPhones, for example, for both what they do, but also because of what the Apple and iPhone brands confer on us in the way of good feelings.
As I’ve written about previously, other phones actually do more than iPhones, but no other phone experience delivers a greater combination of physical and emotional benefits.
Here’s how I see it:
All our interactions in the world - with products, services, people, etc. - form experiences.
Our experiences generate emotions (how we feel about our experiences; how they impact us).
So, ultimately, everything we do, and all of our experiences, end up being infused (and stored) with the emotions that those experiences generate.
Therefore, in the end, something’s lasting impact is not so much what it does physically as much as its how it makes us feel (e.g. the difference between a brand and its private label twin). The enduring impact of…
Posted by Michael B. Moore on December 16, 2014 at 5:30pm
One of the most powerful laws of marketing is also one of the most counterintuitive. As such, many companies just get it plain wrong - with their brand and sales suffering as a result. Now, you don’t have to:
To maximize sales you’ve got to minimize the number of consumers you target.
Yes, you read it right. To many, this makes no sense, but in reality it forms the basis of effective brand strategy. Let me explain.
One of the biggest mistakes in business is the impulse to broaden the focus of one’s product appeal and marketing messages so as to cater to the most people. The idea is to cast a wide net with which to attract the most consumers. While this might seem logical, it is a common and often fatal marketing mistake.
To create the strongest brand that drives the greatest financial results, a company must identify a core consumer target around which to focus both their product and marketing resources. This doesn’t mean that you don’t want to sell to anyone beyond that target. In fact, in some categories, most of your sales will not come from your consumer target. The decision flows from an analysis of where a company thinks it can gain the greatest traction in the marketplace.
Take Nike, for example. They create performance shoes and target the best athletes…Continue
Posted by Michael B. Moore on December 8, 2014 at 10:30am
You probably have read the popular quote from a tech exec who said “your brand isn't what you say it is, its what your consumers say it is”. This infers that in today’s increasingly social world, that consumers are the ones who control the dialog and direction of brands.
Obviously, this sentiment is popular among social media professionals who, in addition to posting it profusely, make their living by advising the online social efforts of their (increasingly frightened) clients.
While the line acknowledges the rising power of social media, it blatantly misrepresents the nature of consumer behavior. It’s just plain wrong. Here’s why:
Although consumers today are definitely more circumspect about marketing, this cynicism usually acts as an “ad filter”. It buffers us from the thousands of marketing messages that bombard us daily. We simply ignore most messages. For those that do break through though, consumers - for the most part - take them at face value. We basically believe what we are told, until we have reason not to. This is similar to how we engage with new people. We’re out at a party and meet someone. She says she’s a epigeneticist or a nuclear physicist or a CIA agent or whatever. Unless presented with evidence to the contrary - we believe what we are told. It’s the same with brands. If told that a new brand is the “quicker picker upper”, then absent conflicting evidence - we believe it.
This aspect of consumer behavior is actually the essence of brand marketing. Marketers determine what to say to inspire consumers to connect to their…Continue
Posted by Michael B. Moore on December 1, 2014 at 3:00pm
Many marketers incorrectly believe that consumer satisfaction is almost solely a function of product performance. The reality is while whatever you’re selling must offer value, the perception of consumer satisfaction is a bit more complicated.
Consumers are actually quite forgiving. People put up with all sorts of products and services that they aren’t truly happy with. The one thing consumers ask, though, is that you simply do what you say. If you say you’re the “quicker picker upper”, then you’d better soak up spills quickly. If you tell people you offer “the antidote to civilization”, then you’d better offer a totally unplugged and relaxing experience. If you say you deliver the “ultimate driving experience”, then you’d better provide an exhilarating ride. You get the point.
Consumer satisfaction is really less about actual performance, and much more about brands delivering against their promises. Consumers absolutely hate to feel that they’ve been “had”, or taken advantage of. It’s a negative experience that takes a toll on self esteem. It’s an act that, for many, inspires them to lash back out in karmic retribution. And of course we all know that social media is a potent platform for consumers to exact revenge!
What does it mean that satisfaction is less about product performance? For example, when people go to certain fast food restaurants, they know they aren’t going to get gourmet quality food. They’re actually quite fine with mediocre because that’s the expectation that has been established for that experience. The QSR isn’t pretending to be something it is not.…Continue
Posted by Michael B. Moore on November 19, 2014 at 11:00am
As mentioned in my last blog, Samsung is reevaluating its smartphone business on the heels of disappointing Galaxy S5 sales and profits. The Wall St. Journal summarized their problem by writing that Samsung “lost ground to low-cost Chinese smartphone makers”. In my opinion, Chinese competition is not the issue itself, but actually a reflection of a broader business problem. Samsung’s smartphone shortcomings are really due to a weak, underdeveloped brand. Samsung lacks a compelling brand positioning and identity, without which they haven’t been able to establish a strong, emotionally resonant relationship with consumers. As a result, in an extremely competitive market, even though they sell more smartphones than any other company, Samsung finds that it can’t adequately compete.
For perspective, in 2013 Samsung spent $14B in marketing. Nevertheless, because there was no brand positioning to strategically direct that spend around a common identity or message, consumers have no clear idea who Samsung is, who it’s for, how its special and different etc. It sounds almost unbelievable that a company can spend that much money and still not have a strong brand. It underscores the critical nature of defining yourself in the marketplace - beyond mere features and functionality - in a way that consumers feel emotionally connected to. It’s not enough to merely proclaim what you’re selling and what your products do. You’ve got to engage with consumers in a way that makes them feel good about having a relationship with you.
Consumer product companies know that the…Continue
Last week, Samsung reported significant sales and profit declines due to softness in the Galaxy S5 business. As a result, the world’s largest smartphone maker by shipments is said to be evaluating their smartphone business going forward. While the Wall St. Journal reports pressure from Chinese vendors as a key factor, their smartphone marketing strategy seems at least as much a driver of their current situation. Their competition with Apple’s iPhones represents a crystal clear illustration of the power of brand strategy, even in categories heavily reliant on innovative technology and ‘whiz bang’ features.
Despite the recent iPhone 6 launch, many argue that Samsung still has feature and performance advantages over Apple. The Galaxy line has impressively addressed some of the most pressing smartphone performance issues. Where with just about any other phone, immersion in water means almost certain death, the Galaxy S5 is water resistant. In a world of exploding content, the Galaxy S5 has expandable memory via a MicroSD slot. Moreover, as smartphone users must be intermittently tethered to a power supply, with the Galaxy S5 you can just pop another charged battery in and not miss a beat. The phone also boasts a higher screen resolution and camera pixel count. To be sure, many reviewers have chosen the Galaxy S5 in head-to-head tests versus the iPhone 6.
The one obvious area where Samsung isn’t even really competing, though, is its brand. Against one of the strongest brands on…Continue
Posted by Michael B. Moore on November 3, 2014 at 10:30am