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Unpacking brand love: Surprises & shifts that customers want from their brands

Rico Chan, Managing Director, Hong Kong, India and SEA, Oath, underlines why brands need to frame customer relationships within the themes of shared values, trust, relevance, convenience and usefulness in order to succeed.

IKEA solved a problem digitally that every one of us has struggled with at some point buying furniture that may or may not fit in the space we had in mind. With IKEA Place, you hold up your phone, let augmented reality take over and show you how a 3-D model of the furniture looks in the room you are in. Since it appears at scale, you'll know soon enough if it works to the millimeter, or if you just avoided a very big mistake.

Behind this and every other immersive digital experience, technology is hard at work as brands rethink traditional experiences for a digital world. Of course, none of this is on the customer’s radar. They look forward to finding the fun, discovering the usefulness and slipping into an experience that’s tailored just for them.  

Though specific campaign goals vary, every client we talk to has the same overarching goals. They want to grow brand love and strengthen the bond with customers. They want to personalize their message and offerings so it is relevant to consumers at scale. And, they have to achieve this in a landscape where the customer’s outlook and priorities are shifting. In the fallout of data privacy scandals and fake news on social media, there’s been an erosion of trust by consumers in brands on digital platforms. The consumer’s patience with bad or irrelevant ad experiences is at an all-time low.

To hit their goals, brands have to surface unexpected, surprising and useful ideas that can capture the consumer’s imagination, but also fill a gap. They have to harness technology to elevate the experience, but use it in the right way to build trust. They have to find the sweet spot where the art of branding intersects the science of data. And, they have to overlay every decision with values that match the user’s sensibility. In the current climate, I see brands succeeding only if they can frame customer relationships within the themes of shared values, trust, relevance, convenience and usefulness.

Take a stand, walk the talk

Nissan ran a #shedrives campaign in Saudi Arabia after the country’s historic decision to allow women to drive. Budweiser repurposed a brewery to produce clean drinking water and shipped this to communities in the US affected by natural disasters. A wave of campaigns at Cannes this year showed that brands are taking a stand, entrenching themselves in communities and turning culturally relevant to build deeper emotional bonds with consumers.

It’s a shift that aligns with what consumers expect from their brands today. Oath’s 2018 Brand Love Index, a global research study, found that people want to be seen using brands that share their values – a key driver of brand love. Having a point of view that resonates with customers can help you connect with them in a meaningful way. But advertisers have to also ensure that their actions reinforce what their brand represents.

Use customer data for good to increase relevance and build trust

“Give me relevant recommendations I wouldn’t have thought of myself.” “Remind me of things I want to know but might not be keeping track of.” These were some of the asks McKinsey got from shoppers on the kind of personalized interactions they found useful. Consumers today want experiences that are very specific to their world and they want to see it at the time and place it makes sense. Adobe’s 2018 Digital Trends report found that marketers in APAC are focused on making the experience as personalized and relevant as possible for customers. They are ahead of their global counterparts when it comes to using new technologies like AI, to give consumers a smarter, faster, more personalized, experience. But with data and technology in every marketer’s toolkit, how do you stand apart with customers when you leverage it?

Data is personal and respecting people’s privacy has never been more important. It’s also the first step to building trust. Consumers interact with brands that they trust. Our Brand Love Index found trust represents 20% of brand love around the world and is the highest indicator of brand loyalty and admiration. A big part of that trust is giving consumers control and transparency over how their personal data is used. Offer users access to transparent disclosures and meaningful privacy choices based on the sensitivity of their personal data. Make sense of that data to deliver real value, relevance and convenience. Like a certain superhero who lived by the words, “with great power comes great responsibility,” use customer data for good, without taking advantage.

Pack utility and convenience into immersive experiences

Pokémon GO was not just fun, its success got marketers thinking about the immense possibilities that Extended Reality Advertising offers. We have already stepped into the new future of retail. From home decor to apparel, advertisers are looking beyond standard mobile ad units to immersive AR ads that let consumers try out their products. They provide great utility and make buying choices easier for consumers. At Oath, clients are testing out our new AR mobile ad unit, charting ways to create immersive mobile shopping experiences. Interactive experiences powered by technologies like AR and VR could bring in a whole world of convenience for new Internet consumers in our region. A significant number of new-to-net users in India, which is leapfrogging in mobile, come from the country’s smaller towns currently powering India’s e-commerce success story. In SEA, the world’s fastest growing Internet region, a recent study has predicted the Internet economy will grow to $200B by 2025, with ecommerce being one of the key drivers. If brands can successfully engage this surge of new users with reimagined digital ad experiences that are relevant, useful and influence their buying decisions, it will be a game changer for the retail industry.  

A brand's ability to exceed needs by doing something no other brand does, is the strongest driver of brand love globally. Like, solving a problem that customers might not even know they have. In South East Asia, Grab is upending the consumer experience with its vision for an everyday mobile superapp, giving users services and information relevant to exactly when they need it. Starting with partners like HappyFresh for groceries and Yahoo for content – who are integrating their services in a way that increases convenience for customers – Grab wants to open up its platform to the wider Southeast Asia ecosystem. What’s in it for the consumer? A new experience at their fingertips, bringing unparalleled efficiency, utility and convenience, with relevance and greater personalization – the holy grail for every marketer.

Consumers today expect brands to set trends. They are willing to go out of their way for brands that innovate to elevate experiences – our research tells us this unlocks both brand love and loyalty. Go right ahead with big, bold ideas. Bring them to life with technology, build in trust and amaze customers – they will love you all the more for it.

Rico Chan joined the senior leadership team of Yahoo Hong Kong in 2009 bringing in his versatile sales & marketing and senior management experiences of over 25 years from the Information Technology to Media arena both in Hong Kong and in the Mainland of China. As the Head of Advertising Business with Yahoo Hong Kong in the first four years, Chan was responsible for direct sales, channel sales and online business development, driving the integration of Display and Search Marketing sales teams.



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