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Women: Is Your Brand Emotionally Available?


HBA Global’s 2011 Virtual Event, Reconnect, set the stage for how personal care and beauty manufacturers can connect with consumers, specifically women, in its presentation, “What Women Want: Connecting with the Consumer."

From building a long-term relationship with consumers to recognizing the power of cool, understanding the emotional connection between brand and buyer is essential.

Brand Experience

Jim Joseph, president of Lippe Taylor, outlined several examples—outside the world of beauty and personal care—of companies that reinvented their brand approach by utilizing social media platforms, as well as creating a brand environment that’s consistent and recognizable.

J. Crew is good at keeping it fresh, Joseph said. It successfully creates a strong brand experience and differentiates the voice and approach of each retail outlet—catalog versus store versus website. It understands the attitude of its shoppers, and went so far as to create different Twitter handles for its shoppers’ different wants and needs when launching its bridal line. J. Crew has been successful at creating an engaging social media environment.

Joseph said the question isn’t should you use social media, but how should you use social media. Social media gives companies a voice (e.g., Best Buy revolutionized its customer service via Twitter, giving its customers instant help; and TSA’s use of blogs and Facebook created a strong brand voice). One thing to note is when using social media, don’t compromise your efforts—it’s all or nothing. A mediocre effort may be worse than none at all.

Companies are going public, and not via Wall Street, but by utilizing vending machines that allow thirsty consumers to send a code to their friends so they can buy a soda at any vending machine (Pepsi); or by reinventing its old-school point rewards system via Four Square (AMEX); or allowing travelers to demo a guitar and then Tweet about it to their friends (Hard Rock Café).

Creating a brand experience isn’t really optional anymore. Companies need to find out what their customers want from them specifically, and then think of ways they can meet their needs uniquely. Think of how Clearasil or Axe very specifically address their audiences—tweens and teens, and young males, respectively.

Till Death Do Us Part …

Celeste Hilling, CEO and co-founder of Skin Authority said creating a lifelong relationship with your customer is a must because it: offsets the high costs of constantly acquiring new customers, allows companies to better forecast consumer behavior, is more profitable and allows that company to make a difference.

How do you nurture that relationship? Well, it’s an emotional relationship, so you need to build trust and stay in constant communication with your customers. You need to be authentic, have a common purpose and make emotional deposits, according to Hilling.

The In-Crowd

Donna Sturgess, president of Buyology Inc., talked about the power of cool and how much it influences how consumers choose between brands. Did you know only 15 percent of decision making is done consciously, i.e., rational choices that we are aware of when making a decision; and the other 85 percent is non-conscious, meaning you can’t feel it happening. Memories and values, intuition and reflexes, emotional wants and desires, and relationships and culture all influence the non-conscious.  

Buyology conducted a study on what brand attributes are most important when asked, “Why are you going to buy a specific technology brand?" (e.g., Apple, Google, Hewitt Packard (HP), Samsung). The study revealed the top three conscious brand attributes for U.S. women were me (a brand for me), quality and cool; and the top three non-conscious brand attributes were cool, me and easy. Sturgess stressed that cool is not just showing up as a dominant driver in technology brands, but in other industries where cool may not be seen as an obvious driver.

Sturgess named 10 drivers that create a relationship between brand and consumer—grandeur, a clear vision, rituals, symbols, sense of belonging, sensory appeal, evangelism, mystery, storytelling and enemy—with the top three driving cool in tech brands as evangelism, symbols and grandeur.

Evangelism—About being a part of something special and going further than just belonging, but also a need to share that experience by bringing other people into that group.

Symbols—A way to quickly connect to what one thinks and feels about a brand through visuals or expressions that are instantly recognizable.

Grandeur—Ways for brands to stand dominant through powerful scale that gives a brand strength and confidence. 

Cool is it a discriminating factor; and brands need to not only recognize it as a dominant driver, but they need to differentiate themselves from other cool brands.


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