June 2013 - c3centricity | c3centricity

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How to Build Br and Reputation and Consumer Trust: And then Track it

Forbes’ 2013 report of the world’s most reputable companies was published in April and unlike previous years, did not cause a lot of  commentary. Perhaps this was because so little changed. BMW remained solidly in #1 position and only Apple and Volkswagen moved out of the Top 10.

The Reputation Institute does a great job of measuring the seven essential elements that make a business great in the eyes of the consumer. These elements are a combination of enterprise and product perceptions, the former perhaps surprisingly, trumping the latter in driving behaviours today. This shows that whilst product performance, services and innovation are important, it is the companies behind the br ands that influence a consumer’s final choice. 

As consumers’ dem and to know more about the company behind the br ands they buy, corporations have been obliged to become more transparent. In response, many companies now link their corporate names more strongly with their br ands, in an effort to build this consumer trust.

The report says that

For companies with strong reputations, 55% of consumers say they would definitely buy their products and 50% would be willing to recommend their products to others. For companies with weak reputations, these percentages fall to only 31% willing to buy and just 28% willing to recommend”

That’s a significant difference, which explains why companies are working so hard to build consumers’ trust in them and not just their br ands.

Measuring Reputation

So how do you win consumer trust and build a strong reputation? As the study mentions, it takes more than just great products. It takes local citizenship, leadership and workplace fairness to drive people’s admiration and trust. It is therefore important to measure these different aspects in any br and image and equity work you undertake.

Functional / Rational

The three essentials of br and valueAlthough the study mentioned that perceptions about the enterprise are more likely to drive behaviour, it is clearly essential to underst and consumers’ perceptions of your product and service offerings. Underst anding the functional benefits also helps you to develop and improve the performance and thus the product or service satisfaction of your customers. These metrics can also be used as input to renovation and innovation efforts, and tracked over time to ensure they do not decline. Since image changes are often a precursor to sales changes, these basic metrics should be your foundation.

Subjective / Emotional

As mentioned in the Forbes report, the emotional elements of corporate reputation are becoming more important. A Reputation Institute Executive is quoted as saying “we live in a time when word of mouth is the number one driver of sales and competitive advantage”. Discussing br ands and companies with others, whether online or in person, will impact what consumers think about them and thus also their purchase decisions.

Cultural / Relational

Many of the elements that are cited in the report as building reputation for an organisation come into this group. Things such as a company’s workplace image, citizenship and leadership all depend upon the culture of the (perceived) country of origin and its reputation, as well as the involvement of the organisation in the local community. The relationships it establishes with its consumers as well as its stakeholders will also play an important role in building the corporation’s reputation.

[Tweet “There are 3 essentials of br and reputation: rational, emotional & cultural”]

These three aspects of image come together to cover the total perception and reputation of a br and or company so it is vital that all three areas are measured. As the Forbes report shows, the cultural and emotional aspects have now become more important than the rational benefits of a br and, in influencing br and choice and purchase decisions.

In closing, it should not be forgotten that these three areas are as important for br ands as for the company behind them. With more companies using their corporate name to further enhance their reputation and build trust with their consumers, the importance of measuring the images of both the company and its br ands cannot be over-emphasised. The impact of one on the other, as well as the verification that they are stronger together than when used independently,  also need to be established.

If you would like to  know more about measuring br and perceptions and images, check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engagement

Need help in building your own corporate or br and reputation? Let us help you catalyze your customer centricity; contact us here

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com

A New Guide to Insight Development

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at the Marketing & Communication Loft event in Geneva. The topic was building great br ands so how could I not talk about insight development, the foundation of all great br ands?

Ever since the marketing world started buzzing with the opportunities that BigData presents, insight development seems to have been forgotten. And yet data, whether big or small, cannot be used until it is turned into knowledge and underst anding and then insight.

I therefore thought it was time to take a fresh look at insight development and how BigData increases rather than decreases the need for true insight.

 

Marketing’s ROI is Lacking

A report by the Fournaise Marketing Group showed that 70% of CEOs have lost trust in marketers’ ability to deliver growth and 69% of them have stopped enforcing key business objectives & indicators on marketers because they have “continuously failed” to prove marketing strategies and campaigns deliver business growth.

The report further suggested that the reason for this was because marketing failed to deliver ROI, which is a surprise in today’s world of data and information. In fact a recent IBM report actually mentioned that the data explosion was the main worry of CMOs today, not the lack of information.

 

Insights and Customer Centricity

I believe the problem goes far beyond just data and is linked to marketers’ inability to make their organisations customer centric. In fact there was a suggestion in this same IBM report that marketers should not lead customer centricity initiatives. I think theyre right, as marketing is the defender of br ands rather than of the customer; it is difficult for one person to prioritise both!

Thinking customer first means doing everything we can to satisfy and hopefully, also delight them. So if we all know that, why are so many of us struggling to walk the talk of customer centricity? I believe it is linked to insight development. I don’t think we know and underst and our customers as well as we should.

We’ve been speaking about insight development for even longer than customer centricity, and yet we are still not always developing insight. Even today, we are more likely to be working with information, knowledge and sometimes underst anding, but rarely true insight. I think that many of us still haven’t grasped the importance of the fact that insight doesn’t come from information, nor knowledge, nor even underst anding, but from the integration of everything we know.

 

A Fresh Approach to Insights

Insights are built from hindsight, eyesight  and foresightInsight development requires the integration of three types of information, knowledge and underst anding:

  • Hindsight
  • Hearsight
  • Foresight

 

Hindsight is what all companies rely on most of the time. It’s about looking back at what has happened and trying to underst and why. The market shares we achieved, the recall of communications we aired, the volumes we manufactured. The problem is that Hindsight is yesterday’s news.

BigData helps to partly address this problem of recency, since most algorithms are developed to adapt to the latest information through machine learning. Although they will work with a combination of different data sources, some older than others, we are getting closer to real-time decision making. But data alone is still insufficient in most cases to develop true insight; we need to add Hearsight.

Hearsight is my name for what we can observe about what our customers are doing and what we can listen to when they are speaking. In some ways it’s better than hindsight, because we are listening to our customers and watching what they are doing today, rather than looking back to what they said or did yesterday. However, we must keep in mind that it is not market research, so we should use our findings to stimulate new thoughts and ideas about our br ands and categories, and not as the whole truth.

One problem with listening to and observing our customers, is that they are changing fast. What works today won’t work tomorrow. What is surprising today, will be taken for granted tomorrow. Although it’s not already out of date when we get it, as is the case with hindsight, it soon will be, so we can’t rely on this information alone either. That’s why we need to add foresight.

Foresight is about looking beyond today to what our customers will want or need tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, or even in years to come.When we speak of foresight, we often think of trend following services first, to provide it. The problem with them is that they are a service – and findings are shared with all the agencies’ clients. This means we’re following exactly the same information as our competitors. There is no competitive advantage in that! And when it comes to preparing for the future and innovation, this becomes a critical flaw of trend following tools.

So what’s the solution? Future scenarios are the solution. By extending trends into the future and combining and clashing them, we can come out with creative but plausible new worlds. These worlds will have similarities and differences which we can then use to develop new product concepts. Most scenarios are built using contrasting possible outcomes in two major areas of influence, sometimes referred to as the axes of uncertainty.

Most people find working with future scenarios exciting but we must remember a few things. Firstly scenarios are not forecasts. They are not predictions of what will happen but rather indications of what may happen in the market and with the customers’ choices and preferences in the future. However, scenarios do help prepare business for possible opportunities and risks. They are a useful way to consider possible future worlds and markets that can form the basis of brainstorming for the business.

 

Scenario Planning using SciFi Writers

Future l andscape
Has the Future already been written?
SOURCE: Kozzi.com

Many scenario companies offer sketch and video portrayals of the future worlds developed and then use storytelling to its utmost. One of my favourite suppliers in this area (whom I should also mention are C3Centricity partners) has a very unique way of developing and sharing their scenarios with their clients. SciFutures use science fiction!

This may surprise you but science fiction writers have a long history of imagining things that get developed 20, 50, 100 or more years later. Here are just few examples to illustrate.

  • H.G. Wells book “The World Set Free” spoke of the atom bomb – 30 years before its invention.
  • Mark Twain talked about what became the Internet in 1904.
  • Jules Verne’s story “From the Earth to the Moon”, predicted moon l andings and weightlessness – in 1865
  • Star Trek’s “Tricorder” – inspired the smart phone.
  • The Minority Report – inspired big data mining, Predictive Policing, virtual reality and touch screens.

Dan Ariely, Professor of psychology & behavioral economics at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina claims that:

“Humans grossly overestimate what is going to happen in the short term and completely underestimate what is going to happen in the long term”

Therefore in trying to design plausible future worlds, we need to stretch our minds way beyond what we would otherwise feel comfortable doing, and this is where SciFutures and their science fiction writers come into play. They are definitely bringing their clients an impressive competitive advantage with this radically new way of thinking!

Coming back to earth, I hope I have explained why I think it’s time to take a fresh look at Insight development. Insights come from integrating information and knowledge from multiple sources. We need Hindsight to know what has happened in the past, Hearsight to watch and listen to our customers to underst and their current behaviours, and we need Foresight to prepare for future opportunities and risks and to ensure that our innovations have been developed with maximum competitive advantage. Combining the three we get to insight.

Customer centricity is built upon our insights of our customers. A deep, intimate underst anding of our customers, what they desired yesterday, desire today and may desire tomorrow. It comes from integrating data and information from both internal and external sources; from market research, observation & listening and trend following & scenarios. All three types of information are needed to develop insights efficiently and effectively. Each adds different perspectives to the equation. If we all use more information for deeper insights, then we will finally be “in sight of our goal” to be truly customer centric.

Let me know what you think of this new approach to insight development in the comments below. In appreciation I leave you with an Irish Blessing:

Insights are a blessing

I believe we can never go too far in underst anding and satisfying our customers? Do you agree?

If you would like to  know more about insight development, check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and

And if you could do with some support in underst anding your customers better, to develop deeper insights, let us help you catalyze your customer centricity. Contact us here TODAY!

Featured image source: Kozzi.com

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

How Important Is Differentiation In The Luxury Category?

It has been a few weeks since we last had a guest post on our site. For this reason, it was a pleasure for us to receive the following article from Angelo Ponzi, who is Director at C3Centricity‘s partner PhaseOne. His comments on the luxury industry and how to communicate to potential clients is illustrated with examples from the watch industry.

As a marketer, you know that different audience segments have different needs and motivations for making purchase decisions.  And, regardless of the amount of money your customer has in the bank, the decision process leading up to the purchase of an Omega is longer than the decision to purchase a Timex. 

Br ands selling to the affluent know that their marketing efforts need to be highly persuasive and that they need to differentiate themselves with not only design, quality and craftsmanship, but also price.

Examining a slice of the luxury market — watches — a recent article in WatchTime identified 60 br ands that spent more than $1 million on ads for their watch br ands in 2012, according to Kantar Media.   Rolex (often considered the optimal sign of luxury) topped the list with more than $52 million spent on advertising. And, according to Kantar Media, watch br ands spent more on U.S. advertising in 2012 than ever before.

 

The multiple reasons for luxury br and purchasing

You and I know, however, that media spend doesn’t necessarily translate to sales or a strong positioning of your br and among consumers the way you intended.  Marketing of a luxury br and is also different than marketing mass br ands.  Luxury br ands need to convince consumers that their br and is worth the extra money.  Consumers of luxury br ands tend to buy for a multitude of reasons, which can include perception and self-worth.  The desire to own luxury br ands could be based on the individual consumer’s need for high quality, exclusivity, craftsmanship, precision, innovation, recognition, status or even envy among their peers. Sticking with the watch category as a point of discussion, while there were huge advertising investments made by br ands to help them tell their stories, how does a luxury br and market itself differently from fashion br ands?  How do these br ands in different watch segments approach their communications so their customers identify with their preferred br and and see that it is a reflection of who they are or hope to be? Based on recent research conducted by PhaseOne among 16 high-end/luxury watch br ands across North America, Europe and Asia, we found that br ands tended to cluster into three segments, both creatively and by price:  Fashion Br ands, Personal Lifestyle Br ands, and Luxury Indulgence.

 

The three clusters of luxury watch communications

Fashion Br ands (e.g., Swatch, Guess) presented themselves through an expression of trends and style.  In their advertising, Fashion Br ands highlighted the aesthetics of the watch and its role as an accessory.  For br ands that clustered in Personal Lifestyle Br ands (e.g., Raymond Weil, Tissot), they tended to add more specific personal or lifestyle interests in their advertising, such as music and travel, as a way to build a connection with the intended audience.  And the communications by br ands that clustered into the Luxury Indulgence segment (e.g., Rolex, Patek Philippe) tended to focus on quality craftsmanship and design to imply exclusive status and indulgency in opulent luxury. What is of most interest is that a br and’s communication alone does not carve out the niche in which it clustered.  After all, if you take a Fashion br and and produce an ad that contains all of the visual and descriptor cues found in br ands in the Luxury Indulgence segment, it does not make that br and a luxury br and.  What the research confirmed is that price also plays a significant role and that not only did these 16 watch br ands cluster based on their br and attributes and personality, but on price as well.

 

The essential questions for positioning

Therefore, regardless of if you’re a Luxury, Lifestyle or Fashion br and looking to reinforce your current positioning or to move up or down into a new segment, you need to make sure you ask yourselves the right questions prior to making a significant investment.  Consider these as a starter:

#1 Determine the cluster in which you currently compete or want to compete.

#2. Conduct an analysis of each competitor’s communication in order to determine how they use visuals and/or text to reinforce their position.  What “cluster” cues are they using to reinforce their positioning?

#3. Determine what br and attributes you and your competitors currently own.

#4. Determine the br and attributes you would like to own.

#5. Develop a br and positioning by breaking down the rational and emotional aspects of your br and that you would like your consumer to reflect:

    • Rational:

i.     What does the product do for me?

ii.     How would I describe the product?

    • Emotional:

i.     How the br and makes me look?

ii.     How does the br and make me feel?

 #6. Test your concepts before rolling out your creative campaign to minimise your risk and ensure your messages are persuasive and clearly resonate with your target audience.

Keep in mind that br ands in a cluttered market struggle the most to clearly differentiate themselves, therefore consumers tend to select br ands they are familiar with or believe are the leaders.  Having a significant point of differentiation, especially in the luxury category, is key to becoming a category leader. To see the findings of PhaseOne’s study on luxury advertising, click to download the whitepaper, “Luxury Advertising: Is now the time to break the mould?

If you would like some more ideas on how to improve your own communications, check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage

Need help in taking your communications to the next level, or in better engaging with your customers? Let's discuss how we can help you catalyze your customer centricity; contact us here today.

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

How to get R&D Excited about Innovation

Did you do a double-take when reading this week’s post title? I bet you did. R&D is at the heart of innovation for almost all major manufacturers, so they should be excited by it. However, their concepts are almost always based on the company’s current technical know-how and skills. Boring! If you want to break away from this very predictable process and add some “oomph” to your innovations, then read on

One of my most loyal CPG clients contacted me recently about the latest problem (opportunity?) he has been asked to address: making R&D more consumer centric. Having faced a similar challenge in one of my previous jobs, I immediately empathised with him. It can really be a daunting task, especially when speaking to people who are usually more interested in numbers than emotions. I remember speaking at the annual R&D conference about consumer centricity and at the end of my talk, the Head of Operations commented “You know Denyse, the R&D department is very consumer centric. We know exactly what consumers need. It’s marketing who don’t know how to explain to consumers why they need it!”

Trying to keep a straight face, I thanked him for his comment and also for having just proven why I believed that R&D could become more consumer centric. I then went on to suggest some ways they could get closer to current or potential consumers. By the end of my talk I had a queue of volunteers wanting me to organise some of the suggested actions for them. Here’s what I shared:

Observe & Listen to your Consumers

Most people working in a company and certainly those working in R&D, know far more about the category than the average consumer. However, most employees – excluding hopefully the insight team – don’t know what their consumers really think about their offer.

Observation of consumers as they go about their daily lives, using the product or service, helps us to identify pain points, whilst also stimulating new thinking and concept ideas. Listening to their complaints and ideas, whether online, through carelines or during a market research project, can provide the consumer perspective and input for new concepts or solutions.

It’s time for R&D to get out of the factory and into the shops and homes of shoppers and buyers.

Involve your Consumers

Ben- and-Jerry-AdA few days ago I came across an article about Ben & Jerry and how they are asking residents of five cities in the USA to vote for the names of new ice cream flavors that reflect their locales. The br and’s Scoop Truck, which will be touring 11 cities this year, will also serve as one of the campaigns’ voting platforms. Once consumers have eaten their free frozen treats, they’ll be asked to use their spoons as “ballots” (vote by depositing their spoons in one of several recycling boxes marked with various ingredient names). Does that remind you of another br and who used a similar voting tactic when it was starting out – Innocent?

Great br ands and companies have no problem “stealing with pride” and recognising good ideas when they see them.

Ben & Jerry’s are by no means the only br and to involve their customers in developing or choosing new products and services. Nespresso have been collaborating with their Club members for years on many aspects of their marketing. Whether choosing the end of their commercials or identifying the next new blend to be launched, Nespresso Club members are made to feel important and privileged.

Involving customers in the development of new product and/or service concepts not only makes them feel valued, it also makes them more loyal and valuable advocates of your br ands too. 

Exp and your Thinking

Example of innovation leversHow do you come up with ideas and concepts for new products and services today? If you are like most companies, they probably come in a majority from your current portfolio of br ands. Whilst this can meet with a certain level of success, as it is what customers expect, or rather dem and, there is another process that can drive even greater success. This is the use of what are often called innovation levers, or what others refer to as “the s and box”. I love the latter term as it suggests light-hearted play, which is an effective way to get people thinking “outside the box”.

Innovation levers enable thinking to “push the envelope” and to exp and outside the box in which R&D and marketing can sometimes find themselves. Rather than thinking about the next flavour or packaging idea, why not consider a new channel or communications strategy?

Coke sharing canCoke recently used two of these levers, but combined them, when it launched its “sharing can”. Not only can the can be split in two for sharing, it also enables new potential consumers to consider buying a can, such as those with smaller thirsts or those traveling.

Starting from a different lever than the one you usually use can result in more creative concepts.

Go Beyond Trend Following

Grow your business using customer underst andingAnother challenge when looking to make R&D more customer centric, is in moving them from trend following to scenario planning. R&D people often seem to be more comfortable with trends and “poo poo” future scenarios as improbable forecasts. It is therefore important to explain to them that scenario planning is not forecasting. If they can allow themselves to be open to listening to a story, which exposes imaginary but plausible new worlds to them, they can become inspired by the opportunities. The ideas that are created from scenario planning, have in my experience been amongst the most ground-breaking ever developed. Isn’t that exactly what we would all like to market, rather than the staple diet of predictable renovations?

These are just four ideas that I shared during the conference a few years ago, to stimulate and excite the R&D department. Hopefully they have excited you to have a go at convincing your own operations people to get closer to the customer.

Have you other examples of how you got your own R&D people to think outside their technical box? Then I’d love to hear about them, so please share your thoughts and ideas below.

If you would like some more creative innovation ideas, check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/vision

Need help in taking your innovation outside its box, or in connecting with your customers? Let’s discuss how we can help you catalyze your customer centricity; contact us here today.

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

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