While consumers value and appreciate brands, the reality is that they devote less time thinking about them. This is the fundamental challenge which most marketers are facing today. A further to this challenge is that most brand associations are not consciously noticed by them. Often, consumers come across them without even realizing it.
But there are times when people do focus on brands and call up related memories and associations. This is Brand Response and such response needs to be evolved consciously and strategically.
Situations Leading to Brand Response
Most occasions when people consciously consider brands and speak about them or give feedback are in response to the following four situations:
1.When a brand advertisement gets their attention:
Marketers face an uphill battle; in trying to establish brand associations among consumers because consumers are not constantly tuned in to brands. Advertisement messages can have a major influence on the development of people’s attitudes toward brands. And brand messages can take numberless forms across many different channels to influence the consumer mindset. It may include traditional forms of mass media advertising, sales promotion, or sponsorship, as well as new media channels such as mobile phones or social networking sites. In addition to having a short-term effect on purchase decisions, all forms of advertisement message have the potential to create, amend or refresh brand associations.
Advertising also has a very powerful role in framing the brand experience by emphasizing the positive, differentiated aspects of a brand. Studies have shown that when respondents saw advertising for a product and then tried the product, they were far more likely to consider buying the brand repeatedly than if they had only tried it without being exposed to advertising messaging.
2. When they hear or see things about brands that are not controlled by the brand custodians:
For example, word of mouth is one of the most influential touchpoints in creating brand demand and making purchase decisions. Although it is not a new touch-point and people have been taking advice from one another since the origin of mankind. But it continues to have a major influence today amplified by the power of the Internet. The key factor that determines the power of a given piece of word of mouth is the trust the receiver places in the source. Consumers expect their friends and relatives to provide an unbiased view. So a piece of advice from a family member or close friend can have a big influence on their purchase decision.
The internet has largely increased the speed with which such information can spread. Through email and online social networks, consumers exchange information, news, images, and video.
3. When they are “experiencing” the brand:
Great marketing behind a weak product will only heighten the levels of dissatisfaction when it fails to live up to the claims. But a great product provides the perfect material for marketing claims to connect. The experience of using a brand should contribute to refreshing and reinforcing brand associations every time a user comes into contact with it directly or by interacting with the person concerned that represents that brand.
We have to understand that product consistency alone cannot create a great brand experience. Marketing should always look out for differentiators that are the main drivers of brand selection by the larger market segments, But experience is the critical factor that will dominate the associations that users have with any service brand. For, any service brand, effective management of the customer experience is a key to building customer commitment, retention, and sustained financial success.
4. When they are considering a product purchase:
All kinds of brand associations that are generated by advertisements, word of mouth, or experience can create demand for a brand, causing consumers to shop a category with the intention of purchasing a particular brand. But even in the most demand-driven categories, there is still significant scope to influence brand selection at the point of purchase.
At the point of purchase, existing brand associations can be reinforced, or new associations can also be created. Shoppers looking for a tea brand may simply buy the brand they bought last time, which is probably the brand they always buy. For any leading brands that are purchased repeatedly, the task of the marketer is to ensure that the shopper can find the brand easily without any distractions. While for other brands seeking to challenge such category leaders, the need is to present their case loudly and strongly at the point of purchase. Challenger brands can stand out by offering financial incentives or by making their uniquely differentiated product proposition clear at the moment of purchase.
But for both leaders and challengers in the categories, visibility at the point of purchase is crucial. Everything a brand can do to get into shoppers’ lines of sight without irritating them is worth doing. Leading brands that are in demand should be easy to find, while challenger brands seeking to disrupt shoppers’ established habits must be hard to overlook.