How do consumer brands stay relevant, authentic and differentiated in a rapidly evolving and culturally complex global market? With 195 countries and 6,500 languages around the world, the challenge is daunting as brands seek new methods and motivators to connect and engage with audiences through social, mobile, experiential, digital advertising and e-commerce channels.
The CMO Council recently teamed with Fresh Squeezed Ideas to explore the cultural connection to brand attraction. In a new strategic brief, Building Brands That Attract and Engage Fans, the CMO Council taps domain experts and notable brand marketers from PepsiCo, Visa, Johnson & Johnson, PetSmart, Cox Communications, Opus Bank and Overwaitea Food Group to learn more about how culturally connected brands stay valued, real and relevant with consumers.
The report underscores the theme of a new book, Reincarnation: The Death and Rebirth of Marketing, authored by Fresh Squeezed Ideas president John McGarr. In his new book, McGarr notes that today’s most successful brands must build strong bonds with current and future consumers by:
- Developing a deep understanding of those they want to have a relationship with—their aspirations, values and higher-order needs—all within the cultural context that shapes their value perception
- Having a clear brand purpose, the unique role the brand plays in helping to improve the lives of those the brand cares about most
- Creating a brand engagement model that is based on attraction, in which the customer is drawn to the brand by choice
According to McGarr, the critical need is to understand, make sense of and track how culture defines and alters the context in which the brand exists over time. Culture is always ebbing and flowing, and therefore, the value attributed to certain goods and services will also change as well.
Communicators must accurately situate their brands within a cultural, consumer and competitive context. Using a brand ecology model, there are endless possibilities to create new communications, new innovation strategies and new marketing interventions by tapping into the power of a culturally informed brand strategy in a structured way.
The report notes that brand attraction is harder to achieve than brand recognition. “Brand attraction is unconscious—people are inexplicably attracted to brands that reflect their values.” Based on this definition of brand attraction, the CMO Council interviewed a select group of members to find out how they view their brand ethos, relevancy and following, as well as to what degree this is creating differentiation and distinction in the market.
PepsiCo: Putting More Pep Into Enduring Brands
“Around the globe, we see that consumers are becoming omni-cultural, and geographical boundaries don’t necessarily divide them. They aren’t defined by where they were born or where they live. Rather, their passions unite them with like-minded people around the world,” said Ram Krishnan, chief customer officer for PepsiCo, according to a news release. “Consumers have become very engaged and are no longer passive. They want to have a two-way conversation with brands, and they often even dictate what that conversation should be. Whether it’s on social media or within the consumer relationship, the challenge for us is to aggregate all of that customer data into one place so that we can get a better picture of what consumers expect.”
Visa: Bringing Everyone Together Everywhere
“Because of the nature of our brand, some of the cultural icons that we’ve used are Olympic athletes that convey a global sense of everybody coming together and focusing on the same thing for a period of time,” said Diane Salmon, senior director of loyalty and offers at Visa, says the release. “People tend to feel very positively about this kind of human effort, and that is one of the reasons we value that positioning as much as we do.”
Johnson & Johnson: Finding Micro-Moments in the Lives of Millennials
When it comes to anticipating customers’ needs, J&J is able to do some predictive marketing and create micro-moments for the brands. For example, they know that interaction with babies is very important and have underscored that with health research in their communications to ensure moms understand that it is important.
“Touch, smell, hearing, seeing and tasting are all very important, so we translate that into our messaging for the Johnson’s Baby brand so that we remain relevant to moms and give them information that is helpful for their babies’ development,” said Alfie Ang, head of digital analytics in Asia, in the release. “Overall, we’re seeing that consumers are wanting much more personalized information, so we need to be able to balance that level of personalization while also making sure that we aren’t overloading them with content.”
Source: The CMO Council; edited by Richard Carufel