BRANDING

DO MODERN CONSUMERS CARE MORE ABOUT BRAND OR CONVENIENCE?

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Marketing products and services to consumers have never been easy. For modern businesses, marketers, and entrepreneurs, it’s impossible to say if marketing to consumers in the 21st century is more difficult than in the past. But one thing is for sure - it’s more complicated.
 
Modern consumers care about a lot of things when it comes to choosing a product or service - efficacy, price, perceived value, brand story, and more. But what has really changed the rules of the marketing game is what’s known as The Amazon Factor. With the rise of the on-demand, store-for-everything, do modern consumers care more about brand or convenience?

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The Amazon store model gives consumers convenience on steroids.
In the not-so-distant past, convenience for consumers meant the grocery store was within a reasonable walking distance. Or, they could have their items shipped and delivered to them within a couple of weeks. As far as selection went, a convenient selection for our grandparents meant there were three types of coffee to choose from instead of a single brand. One of which was merely, “decaf.”
 
Amazon and similar stores have completely turned the concept of consumer convenience on its head, and have pumped it full of steroids. The genie is out of the bottle, and there is no going back to the good old days of the “convenient” small town grocer.

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Consumers are driven by a different set of expectations for the businesses they choose to support. Because of retail giants like Amazon, consumers want access to a variety of products, and they want to purchase it right now. But that’s not all. They want those products delivered to their door within two days. In some cases, even two days is not fast enough, and it’s one of the reasons why billion dollar businesses are experimenting with drone delivery.
 
On top of fast, convenient delivery, younger consumers who came of age with the rise in online shopping prefer to have a product delivered if cost and availability are comparable to getting in a car and driving to their shopping destination.
 
Having a reputable brand with a humanizing story isn’t enough for modern consumers. Consumers want online, quick access to a brands catalog of products and services.

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Younger consumers are less likely to purchase from rigid verticals. Consumer reports from 2017 and 2018 have found that:

  • Consumers prefer fast, simple, and efficient retail processes.

  • Consumers who shop both online and offline visit a store to purchase something specific.

  • Casual browsing, both offline and online, is less likely to happen in the digital era.

  • 73% of shoppers say they visit both online and offline stores with a specific item for purchase in mind.

  • 58% of surveyed customers cite having the ability to find what they want quickly and efficiently as the most critical factor in determining where they shop.

  • 44% of consumers say that the second most important factor for shopping is a company’s customer service.

What’s the bottom line?
Consumers, especially Millennial and Gen Z consumers, care more about convenience than brand. Businesses will have to give consumers convenient, flexible shopping experiences to remain competitive. This doesn't mean forget about your brand, it just means there's a shift in priority and you need to recognize it... NOW!

WHY IS SONIC BRANDING SO IMPORTANT?

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How Important is Sonic Branding to Your Audience? 
Sonic branding is the act of using sound and music to trigger a memory or emotion. Many successful, iconic brands use sonic techniques to solidify themselves into the consumer psyche further. Think McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It” jingle, or the popular Southwest 'DING'.
 
Music and sound is a language that anyone, anywhere, can speak. Its power transcends culture, time, and place. So, sonic branding should be a huge part of your marketing strategies, regardless of your company’s size or industry. It gives you the opportunity to distill your company’s vision and ethos into a few seconds of sound that will imprint onto your target consumer, conjuring an emotion that is aligned with your brand’s vision. So, how important is sonic branding to your audience?
 
1. Consumers are dependent on voice.  
Content creation is accelerating at an alarming rate. More and more, consumers are relying on voice technology to help them sort through ever-expanding mountains of digital information. To better sift through content, consumers are starting to exchange their independence for fast, dependable information that is personalized, hence the rise of Amazon’s Alexa and other voice-activated devices.
 
Because consumers are starting to depend more and more on voice agents, those voice agents are standing between marketers and their target audience members. Going forward, it’s crucial that brands can create audio connections with consumers, and sonic branding techniques can help companies build their brand identity.
 
2. Sound is one of the most memorable of the senses. 
Consumers are constantly bombarded with images and sounds. To make sense of all this information and data, the most memorable must be simplified and stripped down to its bare bones. As content creation continues to accelerate, catchy, memorable phrases need to be continuously shortened. But when it comes to sound and sonic branding, it’s power is ever-present.
 
It’s much easier to create a memorable jingle than it is to create an iconic tagline that will not only communicate the brand’s vision but also imprint successfully into consumer’s memories. Sound is much more memorable than words.
 
3. Sonic branding conveys and triggers emotions more reliably than visual marketing techniques. 
Sound plays a strategic role in differentiating a product or service. Audio is stored in the emotional centers of the brain, and that’s why people can respond to and remember music and sound once it has been memorized. It’s one of the reasons why it’s easy for people to remember a song from their childhood, even if they haven’t heard it for decades.
 
Sonic branding is a way to better connect with your target audience as more and more consumers rely on voice recognition to make sense of information. With sonic branding, consumers have a greater ability to recall and trust your brand. Sound and music give you the ability to differentiate your products and offerings from your competitors further. And audio enables you to connect with your customers on a deep, emotional level. As you continue to hone and refine your marketing techniques, it’s important to understand how sound and music can enhance your campaigns and further build a mutually beneficial relationship with your customers.

MARKETING TO THE MISSING GENERATION

Millennials are always in the news. Usually, nothing good is ever said about them. In fact, they’re the reason so many industries are dying. Millennials have killed bar soap, Applebee’s, tissues, and they refuse to get married, settle down, or have children. Even the once formidable real estate market is under fire thanks to Millennials.
 
So, in most instances, core Millennials aren’t the best demographic to target anyway. Many members of this generation are struggling to earn enough money for life's basics, let alone have any money set aside for discretionary spending. But fortunately for most businesses, the older end of the Millennial generation and most of Generation X are prime consumers to target in their marketing strategies.

Say Hello to The Missing Generation
Consider the combined older Millennials and Gen X as the missing generation, but a marketing sweet spot for most brands. These buyers are between the ages of 35 and 50, and are referred to as ‘digital pioneers.’ This demographic’s spending power and position in history sets them apart from older and younger consumers.
 
With older consumers, it can be difficult to effectively market to them because they didn't grow up with technology. Most didn’t even pioneer its use. Younger consumers, on the other hand, do not have much buying power. So we're left with the in between/missing generation who understands and uses technology, and has a lot more discretionary spending than their younger counterparts.
 
So, how can a business successfully market to the missing generation?
There are several critical components marketers need to consider when they reach out to the missing generation.

  1. Create messages that appeal to their stage in life. The average age of first-time home buyers has steadily risen since the housing market collapsed. Now, the average age is 32. Most of the missing generation’s members will be homebuyers. Most will also already have children. The older end of the missing generation may have teens at home or no children at home. But, they aren’t quite ready for retirement like older generations. Consider their unique life stage when you market to this demographic.
  2. Don’t coddle or patronize them with tech marketing. Digital pioneers were either super early adopters of technology or were the ones who created it. They know their way around a smartphone. Most probably use Facebook on a daily basis.
  3. Appeal to their nostalgia. While digital pioneers are quite comfortable with technology, they do remember a time before social media and the internet. In fact, many older Millennials and Gen X are nostalgic for their childhoods, when times were simpler. When crafting marketing messages for the lost generation, try to appeal to their sense of nostalgia.
  4. Do not use corporate messaging. Millennials and Gen X are leery of corporate America. The housing crisis shook this generation’s faith in big business and the government. It’s critical that marketers don’t use corporate speak or traditional advertising methods when they try to reach this demographic. Testimonials will appeal more to digital pioneers than corporate messaging.

Marketers have gotten caught up in the heady scramble to catch the attention of younger, tech-savvier consumers. In doing so, they’ve ignored a key demographic that has access to a steady stream of income. So when trying to appeal to members of the missing generation, don’t forget these crucial points.

HOW DO BRANDS BECOME ICONIC?

The business and marketing worlds have always been competitive spheres, but since the dawn of globalization and the internet zeitgeist, hypercompetitiveness rules the day. And for a brand to stand out in this climate, they must become iconic.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE ICONIC?

To brands, iconic means that products and services are highly relevant to the target audience, they are recognizable and distinct. Furthermore, becoming iconic doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, simplicity and timelessness are some of the critical elements of iconicity. Think the simple Nike or Target logo, or the clean lines and shape of an Absolut bottle.

Iconicity also takes shape within the memories and emotions of the consumer. Winning brands which reach iconicity have already imprinted within their target market’s consciousness. For instance, people remember the distinct colors, shape, and texture of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and the feelings those products elicit.

A warning, though; brands that reach iconic status, but become complacent and then chase after the next ‘shiny object’ fad can anger customers and quickly lose iconicity.

CASE IN POINT

Take Coca-cola, for example. The signature drink was first patented in 1885, and after experimenting as a ‘nerve tonic’ complete with cocaine in the mix, the brand soon finalized their recipe in 1903. For decades, coke remained the same, imprinting its look, feel, and taste within its target market. That is until the mid-1980s when the company decided to experiment with its formulation again. Consumers boycotted the company until the brand switched back to its (somewhat original) formula.

Being relevant in a meaningful way gives a brand, iconicity. To stand out in the crowd without resorting to fads and shiny object syndrome, brands need to think long and hard about what makes them distinct, right down to their logo, signature, tone, and colors.

Steve Jobs designed the first Apple logo in the late 1970s with Ronald Wayne. The first logo was busy, intricate, and would be difficult for a consumer to remember or articulate to those unfamiliar with the company. Steve Jobs commissioned designer Rob Janoff to work on the logo, giving us the memorable, simple, and timeless bitten apple design the entire world now recognizes.

CONSIDERATIONS

When thinking about how to make your brand iconic, think about the following elements:

LOOK: Is your logo simple, easy to identify, and can a customer articulate it to another person? Is your brand’s personality shining through the way it is visually presented?

FEEL: What is the tone of your brand? How does that resonate with your target customer, and can you easily replicate it across products and services?

POINT OF DIFFERENCE: What values does your brand embody, and is the brand’s purpose resonating with the target market? Also, how can your brand promise and deliver on specifics where your competitors cannot?

Remember, when building your brand’s iconicity, don’t stray. Brands that try to experiment with the next shiny object or respond to a fad will lose loyal customers and hurt their brand’s image. And if you’re first starting out, take the long view when building your brand. Don’t look to fads but instead, work on developing a timeless and distinct brand that will create and cement positive memories for your customers.