It’s not just about rebalancing the “one-sided” relationship brands have with people. Brands must meet consumers’ needs in order to achieve a true value exchange.
Brands must evolve from a transactional relationship to a dynamic one, where consumers and brands continually exchange value. For example, when a brand obtains data from a consumer, such as an email address, it becomes the responsibility of that brand to reciprocate and provide value in exchange for the data it received – that value must go beyond promoting the next purchase. Likewise consumers share a brand’s content because they find it valuable to themselves and peers. If continual value is provided, it leads to continual sharing, and both the brand and consumer benefit.
Conviction and commitment are the foundation of brands’ contribution to the value exchange. Eighty percent of our respondents say that brands must have a clear reason or purpose when sharing with people.
Brands need to evolve, to include both a brand promise as well as a brand purpose. They must articulate, and then embody, their reason for being that informs everything they do. Marketing and corporate communications functions must be aligned to ensure the brand story is heard and shared properly. Addressing societal needs must be inextricably linked to rational and emotional needs as part of the core marketing strategy.
The value exchange also requires storytelling and story sharing. Consumers want to be invited to be part of the development and refinement process of brands’ stories.
Brand promotion must begin by inviting people to actively participate in ways people find personally meaningful. Participation comes in many different forms. People will self-select the form of participation that best fits their needs – and they’ll challenge brands to take that feedback and act accordingly.
Brands must be “always on,” and always adapting. Responsive brands listen, learn and adapt to consumer feedback and are prepared to handle a variety of scenarios. It’s become quite trendy for brands to be a part of the conversation and that’s important, but it’s incomplete. Almost 90 percent of brandshare respondents say that they should be able to communicate and interact with brands quickly and in real time.
Truly responsive brands will not only adapt to feedback by adjusting marketing, but will make core refinements to how they behave in the world. When done right, these behaviors deliver real value not only to consumers, but the brands themselves. This continual refinement of behaviors informed by consumers’ ever-changing needs is the heart of today’s dynamic value exchange and is linked to measurable business outcomes.
Explore the full findings of brandshare 2014.