Showing posts with label Brand loyalty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brand loyalty. Show all posts


App Marketing | Return Journey

A return journey is an approach for responsive communication with lost and inactive customers that encourages them to return and make more purchases, and if succeeded they will refer others.


The overall goal is to:
  1. Claim them back,
  2. Increase their order count,
  3.  Recruit them as ambassadors.

Indulge & delight. Fresh, Engaging, and delightful brand. Customer Happiness.


On Demand applications that 1- Take a Genuine Interest in customer Interests 2- pre-Solve Customer Problems 3- have Positive Customers, go above and beyond what is normally expected. The group that elevated will be biggest marketing asset in the long-run.

Many tactics can be used and I recommend a mixture of:

  • Direct Marketing
  • Exit Offers
  • Containment Social Media
  • Loyalty/ Affinity Programs
  • Personal Calls

  • Remarketing/ Retargeting

Acquiring customers is the easy part, Retaining them is the real deal:

Seek Recognition
Encourage feedback voice from customers and implement their aspirations into your business and then you follow up and show them that their voice is heard.

Offer Exclusivity
Your 30, 60, 90 days customers are more valuable than the first 1 or 7 days customers. They deserve superior handling.

As long as customers know you care about them, they won’t worry about little imperfections.

Industry: Food & Beverage, QSR, Online food order application
Brand: Local, 9 months since launch.
County: Saudi Arabia
Date: September 2016 


Why would an energy company want us to use less energy?

Talking Energy’s a great little interactive campaign, and nice to see that E.ON is helping to raise public awareness of what it calls the Energy Trilemma – i.e. how to balance security of supply, reduction of carbon emissions, and affordability.
The campaign’s all about encouraging consumers to use less energy, and E.ON hopes that by doing this it will help reduce household bills, engender loyalty and customer support, and ultimately drive long-term profit.


Five ways to manage customer loyalty


Managers are typically taught to things that can be easily quantified and reported on a balance sheet. Stop for a moment to answer this fundamental question: "What is the purpose of any business?” On the face of it, this question seems pretty easy to answer. Most managers would answer: "To make a profit."

But that's the wrong answer. Profits are an outcome. They only tell us if our business strategy and execution are viable.

Peter Drucker, widely considered the father of modern management, argued that the common belief that creating profits was purpose of a business was not only wrong, but harmful. It causes us to make bad business decisions and lose sight of those things that delight customers. He summed up the actual purpose of business this way: "There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer."

The mark of success for a firm, and therefore the ultimate objective of its strategy, is to satisfy customer needs and wants at a sustainable profit. Whatever strategy and tactics we employ to gain competitive advantage must ultimately be based upon our profitably providing a better solution for customers.

Managing Customers as Assets

Customers are the ultimate asset for all profit-making organizations. They provide all of a company's real value. Paradoxically, customers are one of the few aspects of a business that are not managed as an investment. This oversight negatively impacts profits in multiple ways, including inefficient resource allocation (via suboptimal company-customer interactions); product design and launch failures (via poor fit with customer needs); and unstable cash flows (via increased customer defections and price sensitivity).

Therefore, if customers are the primary asset, the ultimate aim of any business strategy should be to maximize the net present value (NPV) of customers to the firm. While on its face such a statement may seem academic, this is much more than a theoretical maxim. Researchers consistently find firms that adopt a customer lifetime value framework for customer selection and resource allocation strategy significantly outperform their competitors in profits and shareholder value.

But this doesn't just happen. It requires the successful integration of all areas of management -- accounting, finance, marketing, operations, and human resources -- in profitably addressing the needs of customers. Below is a good place for us to begin.

Accounting. Analyze the profitability of your customers. Research conducted by the Harvard Business School finds that most customers for most firms do not produce an acceptable rate of return (i.e., they are not profitable). In fact, for most companies, the top 20 percent of customers in terms of profitability produce all of a company's profits, the middle 60 percent break even, and the bottom 20 percent lose the company money. Paradoxically, revenue is a terrible predictor of customer profitability. The highest revenue customers tend to be the most profitable or the least profitable.

Managers need this information to effectively run their businesses. They need to know who their profitable customers are and what behaviors are associated with profitability.

Finance. Incorporate customer metrics in your financial models when making investment decisions. When prioritizing investment decisions, pay attention to the projected impact on the future value of customers to the business. Analysts cannot consistently beat (or even meet) the market -- in the language of finance, they don't add alpha. Research finds that this is because intangibles that reflect the strength of the company-customer relationship are excluded.

For example, analysts are generally skeptical of the impact that customer satisfaction has on a company's market value. Analysts tend to view customer satisfaction information as "soft" data because they don't understand how satisfaction data links to a company's bottom line. Because it is intangible, they frequently regard it as a money drain.

Our own research found that incorporating customer satisfaction into standard models used in investment finance significantly improved the ability to pick winners versus losers. And the winners dramatically outperformed the market by 2 to 1.

Marketing. Put more focus on current customers. Marketing activity has largely focused on persuasion -- the ability of the company to change someone's attitudes or behavior. And while that is a critical role of marketing, too often this gets translated into simply persuading someone to try something for the first time. An old saying goes, "A good salesman can sell anything once. The trick is getting them to buy again."

But it is not as simple as focusing on customer retention either (i.e., getting them to come back). Today, customers buy competing products from multiple companies with seemingly no real loyalty. In other words, customers divide their wallets among competitors.

Consequently, one of the most important elements in improving financial performance is getting customers to allocate a larger share of their wallets to the firm. A McKinsey study found that focusing on share of wallet had a 10 times greater impact than focusing on retention alone. Research demonstrates that the strongest driver of share of wallet is customer loyalty.

Therefore, the primary goal of marketing must be the creation of loyal, long-term customers out of first-time or occasional buyers. Accomplishing this requires a clear understanding of what makes customers want to be loyal. Gathering and understanding customer needs is the job of marketing.

Operations. Make certain that company-defined quality and customer-perceived quality are aligned. Because operations are often focused on the creation and distribution of products and services, there is a natural tendency for managers to focus on meeting technical specifications.

While the quality movement of the 1980s has done a great deal to establish standards of technical excellence, we have a long way to go to achieve user-defined excellence. It matters little if a firm is meeting its internal guidelines if these are disconnected from the customer.

We must always remember that the customer did not design the process, and they don't care that the system we have designed makes our lives easier. It needs to make customers' lives easier. So when designing and implementing any process, we need to experience the offering as customers do (i.e., shop our own stores).

Human Resources. Establish a climate for service in the organization. By service climate, we mean the procedures and behaviors that get rewarded and supported within the company with regard to customer service. Research consistently demonstrates that service climate is positively linked with lower turnover, higher customer satisfaction, and improved financial performance.

While we all pay lip service to the importance of employees in serving customers, too often we manage in terms of their operational productivity at the exclusion of all else. How many employee evaluations actually include customer metrics as part of the formal criteria? The reality is that most employees are rewarded for completing tasks. Few, however, are rewarded for making customers happy.

A Holistic Strategy

Too often we as managers think about strategy in terms of our own functional area: marketing strategy, operations strategy, finance strategy, etc. But each of these strategies should exist as part of a holistic company strategy. A winning strategy focuses everyone in the organization to come together for one cause: to profitably create and keep a customer.

Timothy Keiningham is a world-renowned authority in the field of loyalty measurement and management, and Global Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Vice President for Ipsos Loyalty, one of the world’s largest business research organizations.

Lerzan Aksoy is an acclaimed expert in the science of loyal management, and Associate Professor of Marketing at Fordham University. They are coauthors of a new book, with Luke Williams, entitled Why Loyalty Matters and creators of LoyaltyAdvisor, a web-based tool that analyzes your loyalty across multiple dimensions proven to link to your success. LoyaltyAdvisor is the product of a global effort, the most comprehensive study of loyalty ever conducted.


Can Brand Loyalty Be Bought? - how susceptible are consumers to loyalty programs?

The classic brand loyalty program offers a combination of rewards and recognition. The bottom-line objective of the program, however, is retention—to ensure that a customer continues to purchase a product or service and remains loyal to that particular brand.
First airlines, and then hotels, used loyalty programs to offer incentives to frequent travelers, but today brand loyalty programs are just as common in financial services and retail.
One of the fastest-growing brand loyalty markets is financial services. Credit card companies in particular have adopted the rewards model with increasing frequency. In some cases a credit card will be linked with a specific airline; in other cases, the credit card rewards its “members” with miles that can be used on any airline. Some credit cards also offer merchandise, cash back or other incentives that build up with credit card use. Some even promise customers they can get preferred seating at events or restaurants.
Brand loyalty is big business. More than 1.8 billion memberships exist in US loyalty programs, averaging 14 memberships per household, according to 2009 research conducted by
COLLOQUY, a leading provider of loyalty marketing, publishing education and research.
COLLOQUY estimates about 44 percent of these memberships are “active.” Among the general US population, 57 percent of respondents claim to belong to a loyalty marketing program. This compares to 86 percent of Canadian consumers who participate in loyalty programs, according to another research study conducted by COLLOQUY in late 2007.
But do these programs work? Kelly Hlavinka, partner of COLLOQUY, tells : “From the results of our clients’ programs, loyalty programs are indeed effective at 1)increasing visit frequency, 2)increasing the amount spent annually and 3)retaining customers.

The current economic environment may heighten the importance of a company’s loyalty program.
For the consumer, participating in a loyalty program can help them stretch their limited budget a little bit further. For the company, retaining your best customers that have enrolled in your loyalty program is more important than ever.”
For hotels, loyalty programs seem to be paying off. Jill Noblett, senior vice president of loyalty and direct marketing for Wyndham Hotel Group, discussed the chain’s loyalty program at a “Loyalty Leaders” session at the Direct Marketing Association Conference in October 2008. She says the chain works “to deliver the message that points earned are an enabler.

You can take that vacation or visit one of our fabulous resorts with your expenses covered by redeeming points. What guests earn during their stays also provides them benefits—like a Home Depot gift certificate to use to fix up the kitchen—long after they return home.” Noblett says, “we’ve seen a correlation between redemption and repeat stays.”
For retailers, buying brand loyalty may be more of a challenge. The research conducted by COLLOQUY “suggests that typical two-tier pricing and discount-based rewards—the model that dominates high-frequency retail environments—simply don’t engage consumers,” the company says. “The retail discount reward is now a commodity.”
Aubyn Thomas, senior vice president of marketing services for credit and loyalty for Macy’s, also spoke at the aforementioned Loyalty Leaders session. “Because consumers are very selective in what they buy, we’re relying far more heavily on our Star Rewards program today than ever before,” she says.

The economic environment makes it especially challenging for retailers to reward customers appropriately. As a result, Thomas says, “…we’re turning to less-costly experiential ways of reinforcing customer relationships. So instead of thinking only about discounts and coupons… we’re now thinking about experiences. For example, an experiential reward might be first-class travel to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in person.”
While brand loyalty programs are designed to reward customers with tangible benefits, there is also a “softer” side to customer engagement. “The key to sustaining positive results from loyalty programs is a blend of economic and emotional rewards,” says COLLOQUY’s Hlavinka. “Smart companies strive to move beyond simple economic incentives to incorporate meaningful recognition benefits.”
Wyndham Hotels’ “ByRequest” program is an example of this recognition. “It’s high touch and provides guests with a personalized experience on property,” Noblett says. “ByRequest members can complete an online profile and tell us, ‘I want a certain type of pillow,’ ‘I want a snack and beverage in my room when I arrive,’ ‘I want a certain number of hangers in my closet.’ A manager on property welcomes ByRequest members and ensures that their preferences are met. How nice for a business traveler… to be able to check into a Wyndham and get that kind of special treatment.”
Still, a significant percentage of consumers do not participate in loyalty programs. As reasons for their lack of participation, they cite such economic factors as the need to spend too much and not wanting to pay a program fee, according to COLLOQUY’s research.
There are other non-financial demotivators that brand marketers need to understand. Consumers cited “boring rewards” and the feeling that “all loyalty programs look alike” as reasons for not belonging to a loyalty program. Additionally, there was a high percentage of what COLLOQUY refers to as “category churners—people who had previously played the game and dropped out.” According to the company, “While dropping out of a program is a common consumer experience, the number of consumers churning from the entire category of loyalty programs should raise alarms for loyalty marketers. Clearly, we’re not doing enough to keep customers engaged.”
All audience segments offered as a primary reason for non-participation the “lack of compelling rewards.” Almost half of non-belongers said loyalty programs look too similar. A third issue is the amount of churn: it appears that, regardless of audience segment, people join and then drop out of loyalty programs in relatively high numbers.
Those disappearing high numbers represent lost brand engagement opportunities—a high price for brands to pay in such challenging economic times.


Heineken – Club Beertender (Netherlands)

Client name: Heineken
Category: Loyalty & Long-term Umbrella Campaigns
Heineken developed the 'BeerTender' together with Krups. It's a home-tap system for beer, with which you can tap your own glasses of Heineken's best beers: Heineken, Amstel, Amstel Bock, Amstel 1870, Brand, Wieckse Witte, Murphy's and Affligem.

Beertender was introduced in 2004 as the first system that could provide you a fresh cold beer at home. It's a better experience for the consumer and a chance for a better market share for Heineken.

The product experienced a healthy sales growth (200,000 in 2007).
Slowly, the BeerTender sales are decreasing. Everyone who wants a BeerTender already has one and there are not many new customers. Also, the amount of casks is not in line with the amount of

BeerTenders sold, which suggests a lot of buyers are not using their BeerTender anymore.

The system quickly becomes – without any further promotions – a tap for special occasions and disappears into the closet or garage. BeerTender also suffers from heavy competition of the PerfectDraft, a similar tap from Philips.

The further increase of brand-awareness won't lead to increase of sales of BeerTender, and BeerTender sales don't automatically lead to an increase in sales of casks.

Create a platform to regularly communicate with BeerTender owners and to encourage use of their BeerTender. The goals attached to this platform:

  • Building a database of BeerTender users through self-registration
  • Measure the communication effects to cask sales, with goal of increasing cask sales to Club members by 25%
The target audience is (mostly male) BeerTender owners. Age doesn't matter, but the communication is aimed at men, aged 25–55, with a strong affinity with football and music.

We chose a structural communication- and loyalty program for BeerTender owners: Club BeerTender. The program stimulates the owners to re-use their BeerTender and encourages them to increase its use. Club BeerTender should also create a special bond between BeerTender owners.

The program has three pillars:

  1. TO BRING IN: get to know the BeerTender users.
  2. TO BIND: figure out purchase behaviour, using codes. Always give a reason to register these codes.
  3. TO FILL: increase sales by using special sales promotions and reach the volume goal of 2007.
The Club gives you something directly, there's no need to save tons of receipts to get anything. Members get rewarded in both emotional and economic ways. The following incentives are used:

  • Discounts
  • Privileges
  • Chances to win
Examples of privileges: free cask on birthdays, preferential tickets for football matches. Discounts on football tickets, concerts and BeerTender merchandise. Also, with each registered cask consumers had a 1/10 or 1/15 chance of winning “money can't buy” prizes like flying an aircraft or driving a Formula 1 car.

Current databases, BeerTender sales (utilizing the Krups sales data), BeerTender packages and casks
Other Heineken SKUs
Print media and a banner campaign
Club BeerTender members encouraged to refer other owners

Radio 9%
Direct Mail 33%
Online 30%
Print media 1%
In store communication 8%
Promotional products 19%

Club BeerTender is about more than just a device you fill with casks. Club BeerTender is about the ultimate beer experience: being able to get the most delicious beer freshly out of the tap, at home! Heineken supports Club members, but moreover, Heineken makes sure it's more fun using your BeerTender.

Club BeerTender reinforces the relationship between Heineken and the consumer, and gives customers the recognition they deserve. By asking for specific preferences and interests, the communication becomes personal and relevant.

In the welcome-pack, after registering the first cask-code, the new member receives the BeerTender apron, to reinforce the “being-home” feeling. This also goes for discounts and the prizes members can win. Some merchandise is also personalized with favourite football-clubs, which makes Club BeerTender very personal.

Within the concept, the various beer brands (Heineken, Amstel, Brand) get the possibility to reinforce their individual brand feeling. For example via the Brand Brewery Days, the Amstel Live Concerts and the Heineken Music Hall.

Monthly emails are being based on the preferences of the ClubMembers, to continue to motivate the purchase and registration of more casks, in order to win prizes or to obtain further discounts.

A broadsheet to all distribution points explained Club BeerTender. By sending out direct mails with discount coupons, which could be checked at these selling points, the distribution channels were helping Heineken to sell more casks.


Loyalty program: Not Just Short-Term Behavior but Long-Term Relationship Management

The pressure to deliver growth has increased as the technology revolution has enabled marketers to link programs to real-time profit generation. As a result, CMOs are often forced to shift resources toward programs that deliver identifiable, immediate revenue. One of the core tools used:Loyalty program

Certainly, these programs may drive short-term results. But if not designed correctly, they can actually undermine the long-term health of the brand.

Loyalty programs are mainly psychological in nature, with little true interaction between the brand and the consumer. Still, they can go a long way toward making relationships concrete, as there is a back and forth between the consumer and the brand.

The typical loyalty program enables consumers to earn points that can be redeemed for rewards. When consumers' purchases are motivated by such promotions, we term that "behavioral loyalty." A form of loyalty exists because the consumer engages in repeat purchasing, but it's not clear whether it's because of the incentive or because they are really loyal to the brand.

Loyalty programs can shift what may have been a warm, emotional relationship into a cold, contractual relationship where consumers feel they are "owed" rewards.

A more valuable kind of loyalty

There does exist a more valuable type of loyalty: attitudinal loyalty, defined as when the customer has a strong emotional connection to and preference for the brand. Behavioral loyalty might be described as consumers doing what you want them to do, while attitudinal loyalty involves consumers believing what you want them to.
While attitudinal loyalty is a driver of behavioral loyalty, the converse may not be true. As a result, loyalty programs that provide only economic benefits may be appropriate in some instances but may actually conflict with brand-building efforts that ultimately attempt to create attitudinal loyalty.

This type of conflict can be seen in the airline industry's marketing efforts. Airlines have used slogans such as "Fly the friendly skies" and "Something special in the air" that try to establish the brands as friendly or luxurious. In contrast, the airline loyalty programs require that customers fly a great deal to get access to the improved, "friendlier" or more "special" service levels.
The airlines are left with two segments of customers. The first is those who feel they have "earned" and are therefore "owed" enhanced service, and although they demonstrate repeat buying behaviors, they're unlikely to have a true emotional attachment to the carrier and in the long run may easily move to a competitive brand. The second segment is those who have not "earned" anything, and are treated as second-class customers, so they are likely have neither behavioral nor attitudinal loyalty.

So what does it all mean? When designing a loyalty program, marketers need to move beyond focusing on just purchasing behavior and look at the impact of the program on overall brand health. While rewarding the right behaviors can lead to short-term revenue growth, designing loyalty programs so they also strengthen the brand perception can help lead to long-term brand equity.

Beyond the next purchase cycle
If every element of a loyalty program goes through a filter that evaluates it from the perspective of whether it will strengthen the consumer-brand relationship, the result will be a revenue-enhancing program that lasts longer than the next purchase cycle.
If an airline stands for superior care of the customer, can the loyalty program be designed to reward spending but also take care of the consumer and strengthen the brand? One answer might be to use a combination of fixed and flexible rewards. For example, the airline can keep the points-based program but also add customer benefits that are not explicitly mentioned. Unexpected rewards can have significant value as consumers view them as gestures on the part of the brand rather than payments that are owed.

Rewarding the right behavior means developing a structure that encourages the customer to shop more and spend more. This is obvious, and most programs are designed to effectively incent this in the short term. However, it's equally important to look at behavior on the margin and ensure that you don't accidentally "punish" a loyal customer.
In the current economy, with consumer spending down, it's very possible that many customers will not maintain the status they had in a specific program but will maintain or even grow their share of wallet with a specific retailer.
Most programs would punish those consumers for not maintaining their dollar spending even though they had maintained their share of wallet spending. Design for the best-case scenario, but make sure to design for alternative scenarios as well.

As stewards of not just the loyalty program but of the entire brand's health, CMOs have to rethink the design of these programs. Inciting short-term behavior is table stakes. The bigger challenge is moving beyond short-term efforts to design on-brand programs that can last beyond the immediate pressure. It may be a little harder to do, but it's the right thing to do.


Precious brands: loyalty unlimited

Andrew Doyle
There's a new hero for marketers to worship. His name is Peter Thomas and he's an insurance worker from Brighton in England. Or rather he was called Peter Thomas. Today his legal name is Honey Monster and he is perhaps the most extreme case around of brand love. He just adores Sugar Puffs and their Honey Monster character.
If only consumers of all our brands loved them so much that they decided to do what Peter (sorry, Honey) has done! Sadly most brands don't inspire this kind of fanaticism, but there are some that do get close to us. We become emotionally attached to them. They become loved objects, irrespective of what they do or what they cost. In fact being loved, being 'precious', is the ultimate achievement for any brand.
For example, ask a designer anywhere in the world what they think of Apple and you're likely to be pinned against a wall for hours while they wax lyrical about their brand.
Or, how about getting a woman in her twenties to talk about Zara? I'm told that for her it's like going into a candy store – because there's always something new to excite and entice her. And no other clothes retailer seems to inspire like this Spanish retailer.
Then there's Tic Tac. Anyone who has recently seen the movie Juno will remember the heroine's boyfriend, who always has his orange Tic Tacs by him. That's why Juno demonstrates her love by filling his mailbox with hundreds of packets of this precious confectionery.
What is it about these brands that make so many people love them? What makes them precious? It goes beyond the product. It goes beyond packaging or advertising. It certainly goes beyond the rational.
Oh dear, it goes beyond the rational. That's a pity because the rational is the way we mostly handle our brand marketing, isn't it? For example, it's rational isn't it that if you offer a better product, people will buy it? At least that's the theory behind the wave of premium products that have appeared on the market. But this strategy doesn't do anything to make people love them. Premium simply becomes the next level of threshold values expected by shoppers from products. And as I have recently seen in research, consumers lump all the premium own-label brands from supermarkets together and see them as one thing, rather than discriminating between them.
This kind of push marketing doesn't work anymore. We are all expecting a lot more from the brands we buy. Something more than just knowing we have bought something better.
And that's where preciousness comes in. Preciousness translates into unswerving loyalty and that in turn converts into guaranteed income. But how do you get there? In my journey to find the answer, I uncovered some clues, which seem to work. But before letting you hear what I learnt, you truly must switch off your rational 'push' marketing mindset and really enter the emotional world of the consumer.
If you look at brands that are clearly precious, say Innocent, Tods or Gü, it's intriguing to see that they are all first-generation brands – that is, the people who created them are still directly involved in the business. And none of them went into business on purely rational grounds. Talk to any entrepreneur and passion oozes out of their pores. It is emotion that has driven each of them.
I remember hearing how the founder of the Campbell Soup-owned bakery Pepperidge Farm started her business. Margaret Rudkin had a sick, asthmatic son who had severe food allergies. To help pep him up, she decided to replace the highly processed food she had been feeding him with, among other things, her own all-natural home-baked loaves. And yes, I know it sounds cheesy, but the bread was wonderful and friends and neighbours did start asking her to bake for them. A huge business built on the emotions of a worried mum.
And this sort of emotion clearly infuses the products of these first-generation brands and rubs off on consumers. But how do they get this emotional content across to consumers? Certainly it's not by talking about gap analysis or positioning theory. They do it by having a story. And that seems to be the next component in building a precious brand.
I'm looking at a watch I bought this week in Zurich. It wasn't expensive. And it wasn't a Swatch. But it looks nice and gets compliments around the studio here. The great thing is that when I get asked about it, I can tell the story about its origins – how its look is based on the clocks used on Swiss railway station platforms.
The point is that this story tells something about me. I hate to admit it but it enables me to say look, I'm different, I'm discerning, I'm curious. And so the story not only brings the brand to life, it also brings me to life in the eyes of others.
I picked up on stories some years ago, and we often talk in our company about how design is the art of symbolising brand stories. But I was lost for a while trying to figure out how to take a brand's story and make it relevant for consumers. And that led me on to a brilliant discovery – a book by two Americans, Margaret Mark and Carol Pearson, called The Hero and the Outlaw (1). They helped me realise that precious brands are those that have a story personifying the product as a specific type of hero. And that brings us to the next part of making a precious brand (2).
So precious brands trigger emotion in consumers through their use of the story. But how should that story be pitched? Mark and Pearson point to motivational theory and Jung.
No, don't get worried. It's not that complicated. Apparently we're all driven at different times by four key drives: belonging, independence, stability and risk. And they are certainly present when we're buying things in the supermarket. So if your brand story fits snugly with one of these needs, you may find it becoming precious – because it moves your brand from being just an inanimate object to a support for the shopper's particular motivation.
Of course it gets a bit more complicated, because within each of these four motivation areas there are different types of stories that could be told to reflect different aspects or nuances of the motivational area – what Mark and Pearson call archetypes. The thing that really impressed me about all this though was that there seemed to be a direct correlation between precious brands and the clarity with which they fit human motivation.
Let me bring this alive with some examples. What motivates people to fall in love with Zara? How about the fact that its incredible business system allows for lightning-fast changes in merchandise. Not much to fall in love with there, surely? But think about the consumer value of this rapid turnaround of clothing. For someone who wants to dress differently, it is the place to go; there's always something new and inspiring on the racks. It helps people express their individuality and it really hits home for those motivated to explore – to be different.
I love the recent UK Carling beer campaign 'Belong'. It actually uses one of the four core human motivations as the copy line. Guys in their late teens and early twenties are strongly driven by a desire to belong to a gang or group. And Carling, their lager, really latches on to this need.
Some years ago I tested a range of ready meals across Europe for a multinational company. We presented the products in different forms of packaging and I was astonished when the results came in. All the products hit pretty well the motivation to be in control. They were convenient after all. But one pack did so much better than any of the others.
It was a ready meal steamed in a paper bag. And it drew out of Europeans an amazing nostalgia for that particular cooking style used by their mums and grandmas decades ago. It touched strongly on a desire for simpler times, a return to innocence, a search for paradise.
One of my precious brands is Post-its. Not the little ones sitting on your desk but the big flip-chart versions. They cost a fortune but I can't run a workshop without them. They stay on the wall, you don't need tape, and they look neat and tidy. They hit my need to feel safe in a workshop environment. They give me control.
We've even been able to bring this preciousness into the corporate world. When we begin working on a corporate identity, we use an A4 page with 24 famous faces on it – 12 men and 12 women. Each has been chosen to represent different facets of the four types of motivation, guided by the work of Mark and Pearson.
We give the sheets to company staff and ask them to choose one of these faces as the personification of their organisation. I can't tell you how spooky it is when the sheets are handed back in. There is always amazing consistency within an organisation. The same face appears on answer after answer, and helps us really get to grips with the underlying meaning or motivation behind the client's corporate brand.
Something that really stands out with precious brands is style. I don't mean beauty, although some have it. No, it's more that they all are confident enough to have their own look. Red Bull is a great example. Absolut is another. As are Tic Tac and Heinz Ketchup.
An ownable style actually brings together many of the points already made about precious brands. The first-generation brand owners can find an outlet for their emotional attachment to their 'baby' by using a design style that flamboyantly says to the world 'I have arrived'. Style enables the creator to tell the brand story symbolically, and style can be a consumer's signal to all around them that says 'this is what I'm like'.
It's also very enlightening to observe that many precious brands actually have style guardians. I remember at Pepperidge Farm many years ago watching its style guardian pass or reject designs. Some of the rejects looked pretty good to me, but when I made that observation, the reply was that they weren't the Pepperidge Farm way of doing things – the product shots were too perfect and lacked the excessive dribbles of chocolate their style of cake would have.
Indeed, you could sort of argue that rejecting a design because of its lack of excessive chocolate dribbles is a form of precious brand zero tolerance. If a brand management will get hot under the collar about the exterior style, then imagine how difficult they will be about the product inside or the ingredients being used.
Style doesn't just need to be about the precious brands' look. It can also be about the way in which we use the brand. When I open my Danone yoghurt, I unconsciously lick the inside of the foil lid. When I grab the Heinz Ketchup, I always give it a hefty shake. When I want to drink a Leffe, I grab the right glass and sluice it under the cold tap before pouring in my precious beer. And I always leave my Weetabix soaking in the milk for three minutes before spooning it up.
Just as with style, you could also say that a precious brand often has rituals associated with it. They reinforce the specialness of the brand. And of course the brand owner can help ensure those rituals are created. I just bought some Ecco shoes. They came with a soft bag to hold them in and a very stylish matt black shoehorn. So now, whereas my other shoes get scant attention, the black Eccos go through a special ritual when being put on or taken off. And end up being more precious.
While I am not about to claim that precious brands are the new religion, by worship I mean the set of attitudes that assign to the 'precious object' the status of being worthy of idolatry. Think Nike and teenagers and you'll get a clear indication of what this sort of worship is all about.
We did some brilliant research with 300 teenagers across Europe using our CLICK research method. This gave them cameras and asked them to answer all our questions using pictures. One key question was 'What is the most important object in your life?' The answer from most was a picture of their trainers. So maybe we should see Niketown as a church for the worship by devotees of their precious brand.
Worship is when the object practically owns the owner. It is a subtle, yet very powerful trigger. Worshipped brands are the ones consumers want to talk about. The ones they want to convert others to. The consumer becomes the brand's missionary.
We all want our brands to be precious – to be loved beyond reason, to be bought without a second thought, to be cherished as an old friend. It seems those brands that are precious combine the emotion of the founder, the expression of that emotion in a story, the grounding of its story in one of four deep-seated human motivations; they have their own unique style, are often handled in a ritualistic way and, yes, get close to being worshipped.
One final thought. I wrote this in the first person, because these are my thoughts. And it occurs to me that precious brands are always first-person brands. So if you want your brand to be precious stop calling it 'it' and start calling it 'me' or 'us'.
1.McGraw-Hill, 2001.
2. See, for example, J Howard-Spink: Who is your brand? And what is its story? Admap 443, October 2003.

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