MARKETING

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.

WHY CONSUMERS CRAVE REAL CONNECTIONS

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Imagine a tool so powerful that it could yield results faster than any other traditional marketing tactic. Not only would you be able to cut through the clutter and reach out to your audience, but also engage and get a reaction from them.

Enter the world of experiential marketing.

In today’s overly connected world, the amount of messaging we receive on every digital channel is staggering. Studies show that consumers see about 4,000 ads every day. On top of that, brands also have to compete with their audience’s social networks, friends, emails, text messages, and so on. With this amount of noise, there’s no wonder that consumers have raised the bar and become selective about the content they engage with.

Creating a Bond with Your Audience

Digital marketing has made it easier for brands to reach out to and engage a wide audience. However, most of the messages received through these channels don’t stick in the consumer’s mind. Just think about it: you can probably remember the content of a billboard you saw a few days ago on your way to work, but you can’t tell what the ad on the website you visited ten minutes ago was about.

Although we live most of our lives in the digital world, we still crave real connections. That’s why we go to concerts, attend events or watch sports competitions. The emotion and excitement of these experiences make us feel closer to our peers and, by extension, to the brands that happen to initiate them. Even when it comes to simple things, such as watching a horror movie, studies show that consumers feel a great attachment to the brands nearest to them when they’re scared or along (interesting, huh?).

The beauty of experiential marketing is that it allows you to spark powerful emotions and build a lasting connection with your audience that could transform into brand loyalty. And, it makes sense if you think about it: prospects are more likely to engage with your brand and mention it to their friends and family if you provide a unique and immersive experience than if you were to reach out to them with a standard online ad or sponsored post. We’re not talking about PR stunts here, but experiences that engage your audience and make them excited to share it with their network. Think about IKEA’s slumber partyRefinery29’s 29Rooms events or Red Bull’s jump from space.

Blending Digital & Experiential

You don’t have to burn a hole through your marketing budget to offer engaging brand experiences. Today’s technology has made it easier for brands to augment their digital marketing efforts and increase brand loyalty. With a VR headset, for example, you can enable prospects to see how it would be if they would use your products or services. If you’re a travel agency, you could use virtual reality technology to show prospects how the hotel room would look like or what they can expect to see when they reach their destination. These experiences engage all five senses, empower the consumer, and make them more excited about your offer than traditional tactics.

In Conclusion

You could have advanced tools that measure every possible metric, from impressions to click-through rates – and, that’s all good and necessary. But, the smile you manage to put on a prospect’s face is priceless. And, that’s where experiential marketing can make the difference and help you build a powerful bond.

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.