The days of doing things the way they’ve always been done and expecting similar results are over. Global changes have turned everything on its head, from what consumers demand from brands to how companies handle ever-changing demands.
Losing touch with your target audience isn’t an option. Keeping in touch is a constant work in progress. But what about building and maintaining brand health moving forward?
BRAND VALUES AND CONSUMER EXPECTATIONS
When it comes to connecting with your target audience, there’s no substitute for truly knowing them. The more meaningful data you have, the more successful your outcomes.
Let’s look at an example of data from one of our recent Brand Health Measurement studies:
- 25% of consumers engage with brands that align with their values
- 38% stopped supporting brands that don’t align with their values
- 57% are more likely to buy from a brand that aligns with their values
When it comes to listing some of the most important values consumers are prioritising, 51% say sustainability and environmentally friendly; 48% say consumer support and customer service; 47% say value; 34% say humanitarian; 27% say support for racial equality; 26% say support for gender equality; and 26% say a sense of community or community support.
You can strengthen your consumer relationships by standing for something that aligns with their priorities. Brands must increasingly stand for something and participate in culture, society, or politics to stay relevant.
Beyond values, data shows about 40% of consumers have a specific brand in mind, 40% decide based on public reviews, and 20% purchase based on price. This emphasises the importance of consumer reviews for today’s brands.
As we move further into 2021, consumers expect brands to clearly communicate their values and are motivated by different factors going into purchase. The only way to determine what’s important to your specific target audience is to ask them directly.
MOVING BEYOND LINEAR BRAND MANAGEMENT
Maintaining a strong brand is crucial to staying competitive. Brand health management includes measuring how you’re performing, while ensuring the data accurately reflect how people interact with you and what they expect from you.
But how should brands be measured, and are yesterday’s metrics still applicable in today’s world? These questions inspired our work with Aston Business School at Aston University in the UK, resulting in the development of our hi brands model, which holistically measures and monitors brand health.
Traditional brand models are based on measuring past or current success. They don’t explore future consumer expectations, look at brand momentum, or consider whether they’re perceived as relevant moving forward.
The long-standing measures of awareness, familiarity, consideration, and usage assume a linear framework. This worked perfectly when messages were pushed through mass media with one-way communication.
But today? The brands most likely to thrive engage in interactive conversations and understand consumers’ evolving needs. There’s a need for an enhanced model that accounts for how rational and emotional consumer experiences and needs deepen brand knowledge and influence preference and purchase.
IMPORTANT MEASURES FOR FUTURE-FIT BRAND HEALTH
Brands must closely monitor future relevance, develop innovations that fit future needs, and show how integral they are to our lives. To best track brand health against today’s priorities, the key measures need to go beyond traditional equity and knowledge, to include vitality (which covers excitement and a sense of community or belonging), and future relevance.
These qualifiers allow brands to grow with consumers, and we include all of them in our model. The hi brands matrix plots the relative position of competing brands according to these key pillars and illustrates overall brand health, ranking them among:
- Strong brands with high scores for brand equity and knowledge, but relatively low levels of future relevance. They need to adapt to ensure they can meet future needs.
- Compelling brands, or mass-market brands with higher future relevance. They perform well in terms of vitality, and are in a strong position overall, typically addressing all key measures well.
- Challenging brands, challenging the status quo, are usually new or niche. They have good equity but lower brand knowledge, high levels of vitality, and are more relevant to the target audience in terms of future needs.
- Building brands with relatively low equity, future relevance, and vitality; they perhaps need to re-build.
To survive today, brands need to be more than just strong. They must be healthy, sustainable, and compelling. This means they must build and measure their future relevance alongside equity and knowledge by:
- Understanding consumers to define their needs and how to meet them
- Using data to shape and fine-tune strategy, and determine what they can do that competitors can’t
- Standing for something and clearly communicating values
- Establishing connections to build stronger, more meaningful relationships
- Embracing agility to keep pace with changing consumer needs and the market landscape, to stay relevant and ahead of the competition.
Remember, the more you can understand consumers, the better you can define their needs.
By Richie Heron LinkedIn, VP Product Methodology, Toluna