Building a modern consumer brand value requires a deep understanding of how consumers process information from a multitude of brand interactions.
We all know that consumer demographics are changing fast. But as Millennials become the dominant group, and a rapidly growing cohort of Generation Z peers follows close behind, what’s the impact on companies looking to drive up brand value?
New research from Accenture, Barkley and Jefferies provides some answers to this question. First and foremost, it suggests that today’s younger consumers are becoming “prosumers.”
What does this mean? Essentially, they don’t simply “consume” a brand’s product or service. Instead, they absorb and process information from every interaction with the brand — what they see and read, their engagements with employees, as well as their experience of the product or service itself — to generate their perception of what the brand means to them.
This makes having an authentic brand purpose more important than ever. By understanding what a brand stands for — its heritage, its ethics, its social values, even its sense of fun — prosumers are more likely to form an emotional bond. It is this brand “love” that drives up value.
What’s important to a consumer and what makes them love a brand will vary with each individual, each occasion and each interaction. To build brand value in a complex and ever-changing environment, companies will need to be highly targeted, agile and able to create relevance, in order to generate consumer appeal and engagement.
Here are four ways to build brand value in a prosumer world:
• Treat data with care.
The research highlights just how seriously today’s consumers take the safety and security of their personal information. In fact, once baseline factors like value for money, reliability and quality are accounted for, being trusted with data is seven times as impactful as the other consumer levers a brand can pull.
To build a deeper and more valuable relationship with consumers, companies need to do everything in their power to treat personal data with security and sensitivity.
• Find new ways to win loyalty.
Rewarding consumers for their loyalty is another key brand lever — and that means thinking beyond just monetary benefits. Whether it involves providing expert “how to” guides, personalized recommendations and subscriptions, or rewards for introducing friends and contributing new ideas, rewarding customer loyalty is over six times as impactful as the average brand lever.
Take beauty brand Julep, which invites customers to become “mavens” who play an integral role in developing products. From crowdfunding innovations to trialing new products and offering feedback, it’s a smart way to create an authentic and “lovable” brand experience.
IntelligentX Brewing Co. is another good example, with a unique approach to product innovation and refinement.
IntelligentX employs artificial intelligence in gathering consumer feedback. Each bottle has a label that details a website where consumers can go to provide input on the flavor, carbonation level, etc. Feedback is then fed into the brewery’s algorithm, which produces new recipes each month and is refined through use of the most recent consumer feedback. Although it is used on only a small scale today, it is easy to see how this technology could be employed to increase the speed of innovation for category segments.
• Understand what consumers value.
Consumers are constantly looking for something new and different from a brand, and there is a whole host of levers that can be used to meet this demand. These range from supporting social interactions, embedding ethics and sustainability into products and services, and making everyday life as simple and convenient as possible to making quality or value for money a key attribute. But with so many levers to pull, and so many different consumer demands to satisfy, where should brands target their investment?
The answer will likely lie in consumer data and information. Once identified, brands must seek to deliver that value through preferred consumer channels.
Just look at SoulCycle. By creating a community for indoor cyclers and fitness buffs — supported by value-adding elements like custom SoulCycle playlists on Spotify — this brand aligns its purpose with its customers’ values of health and a positive environment.
• Make the most of what makes your brand special.
Successful brands are those that understand what makes the brand special as well as the distinct characteristics of the category in which it operates. For instance, data shows that fast-food restaurant brands benefit most from accelerating their omnichannel personalized customer engagement, while for personal care and beauty brands the biggest boost comes from positive peer reviews and tailored customer service.
Create relevance at scale with the consumer of the future
There can be no doubt that the consumer is firmly in the driver’s seat. The onus is on brands to create relevance at scale in order to appeal to the new generation of consumer, build value and capture untapped growth opportunities. It means seeing the world in the frame of the consumer, understanding the levers to pull and building the capabilities to sense, respond to — even anticipate — shifting demand patterns.
Laura Gurski is senior managing director and global lead for consumer goods and services at Accenture.