Marketing used to be simple: Attention, Interest, Desire, Memory, Action. The more we advertised, the more awareness and liking we gained, which eventually resulted in sales.
Today, 20 years since Windows 95 made the Internet available to the mass market, and 10 years since Twitter and Facebook opened up an entirely new territory called social media, we still practice the same routine. Of course, the digitization of our audience has allowed marketers to create variants such as AISAS or AISCEAS, which insert search, sharing and comparison into the equation, and some have invented new concepts like stature, relevancy or loyalty to replace awareness, liking or purchase consideration. But the foundations have remained the same since the model was first proposed in 1924. In fact, the model was so powerful that, in some cases, funnel scores informed the bonuses that senior marketers received!
Today, it has become harder to push those scores up, and the correlation with sales has become less stimulating. Deep down, we may question how meaningful it is to spend so much on brand trackers that focus on measuring awareness and liking; yet, we continue to emphasize the same key performance indicators we always have.
Of course, if the scores don’t show progress, then someone gets the blame. The Wall Street Journal reported recently that the average CMO tenure among consumer brands fell to 44 months. According to Spencer Stuart’s CMO Study, which was the source of those findings, it was the first drop in a decade. So the heat is getting intense. This year’s study also showed that nearly one-third of CMOs were new to their job in 2015, the highest number since 2004.
Why are CMOs suddenly finding themselves on the endangered species list? The problem lies in the fact that while marketing strategies have evolved, the ways in which the outcomes of those strategies are measured largely has not.
That is why we developed the Brand Relationship Index, the first-of-its-kind measure of the strength and quality of the relationship a brand has with consumers. Our model allows brands to develop and evaluate strategic plans based on their impact on seven relationship dimensions. These dimensions then ladder up into an overarching Brand Relationship Index. Based on their overall index score, consumers can be segmented into one of five relationship levels.
The average index score in Japan is 32, somewhere in the middle of the “Involved” stage. This means that consumers in Japan, at least when it comes to their favorite brands, aren’t just making an educated choice. They are demonstrating a clear preference for the brand they purchase or use. If necessary, they would actively scan the shelf, perhaps even ask a clerk if it moved to another aisle if they couldn’t find it. They also appreciate what the brand stands for. Thus, an index score of 32 is not particularly bad and indicates that brands in Japan are actually doing fairly well by traditional measures of success.
But our research shows that consumers are willing to go further. They want stronger, more meaningful and more beneficial relationships with brands. Consumers want brands to play an active role in their lives beyond their products and services. When it comes to their favorite brands, they want shared values, shared action and to see a present and well as a future together.
Strong relationships like these are what matters these days, and they are what needs to be measured. If brands can elevate their relationship with consumers from “Involved” to “Invested” or “Committed,”our research shows that a clear majority of their customers will be the first to buy their innovations and stay loyal in the face of competitive pressure. They will also advocate for and defend the brand even in a crisis situation. These are all behaviors which drive and protect a brand’s bottom line. The study also shows a huge lift among committed consumers in wanting to participate in creating brand content and a willingness to share personal data with the brand.
If this leads you to want to better understand how you can achieve commitment, thereby unlocking the full potential and benefit of the relationship that unites you with your customers, you next need to take a moment and ask yourself: Are you measuring and tracking relationship strength in a systematic and scientific manner? And if so, are you using that information as the foundation for planning your marketing campaign strategies?
Yosuke Miyazaki is director of strategy at Edelman Japan.