Humans are social creatures, who for the most part, love feeling 'part of the crowd' but not many local brands are capitalising on this innate need to belong.
21 May 2010 11:11
Given that research shows that the average shopper is exposed to around 3 000 messages a day, brands have to find a way to entrench their relationship with their customers. It's all very well utilising the traditional media space to raise awareness but once that's done, then what? This is where many brands fall short.
South Africa's changing retail landscape is creating additional challenges for retail brands. The proliferation of strip shopping precincts and small niche centres is making it harder for brands to attract and keep loyal customers.
Retailers/brand owners need to relate to customers and quite simply tribal retailism or a 'community of purpose' can be created by offering consumers value added services from within the retail space - at point of purchase. For example; buy your 4x4 here and you can join our next bush trip - Land Rover, Mitsubishi etc all do it well. The value add may be as simple as continued e mail and web communication on events, happenings, club cards, loyalty programs and of course product upgrades. The core consumer proposition is that through buying this particular product I will have access to the particular life style, and I will be part of that crowd. This proposition is matched with by retailers need to retain customers and drive WOM - way less expensive and more effective than prospecting and advertising.
The importance of the retail space here is that it's the place where the promise of the tribe becomes tangible, and as such the retail space becomes a stage for the values and attributes of the brand. It's where the rubber hits the road in terms of brand tangibilisation, behaviour and consumer decision and is undeniably a massively powerful customer relationship marketing tool.
The experience of purchase needs to be extended to engage the tribe in an ongoing relationship - this is where we see virtual media playing an important role. Brand portals such as web sites, blogs etc all have the ability to continually talk to the tribe and advise them of ongoing offerings and get togethers.
Some brands have started down the road using fairly effective loyalty programmes and direct marketing campaigns, but it's really the tip of the iceberg. I'm talking about developing intense brand loyalty and sense of belonging to a tribe that has its own unique culture, customs and even language. The aim is to attract followers who are faithful and passionate.
Where would Harley Davidson sales be without the HOG (Harley Owners Group)?
Of course, a key aspect of this interaction is the creation of dynamic and accurate CRM data base and strategy, the use of this information is pivotal to the 'tribe' strategy. Consumers should be delighted to provide contact details - in fact, they often volunteer information - such is their eagerness to be part of this tribe. The retail space needs to be able to facilitate the gathering of this information
The store needs to be the meeting place of the tribe - a point where they can touch base with the brand that they are passionate about. It's the primary point of contact and hopefully the transaction space. Basic attractions such as a climbing wall in an adventure store, or live fashion shows in a clothing shop, or cooking demos in a grocery shop all function as a magnet, but the opportunities extend way beyond this. We have to create excitement, a sense of belonging, a desire to be part of the action. Tribe members should be constantly anticipating the next attraction.
The quality and consistency of all brand interactions is crucial. They have to be commensurate with the 'tribe's' culture and they have to add value to the tribe member. Disgruntled or disillusioned tribe members are easily persuaded to switch allegiance.
Practical examples of stores that are getting it right internationally include:
About the author
Graham Leigh is architect and director of international branding company, HKLM.