“Be brave”. What does that really mean in business? What does it mean for marketers?
Consumers are increasingly conscious of their relationship with brands and most importantly which brands they want to have a relationship with – whether that’s calling out organisations they think have done wrong, demanding the very best service, creating content to promote or destroy brand reputation, or being selective based on an organisation’s ethics and societal impact. The question is, are organisations brave enough to keep up? Companies that lead with purpose and build around it can achieve continued loyalty, consistency and relevance in the lives of consumers.
With uncertainty in the market and margins running high, it’s a challenging time for businesses to be brave. Stakeholders and CEOs are placing more scrutiny on how budgets are allocated, and ROI has become the key metric for CMOs to deliver on. Every marketing pound and pence is being tracked to ensure it is contributing to the growth of the business.
So why should organisations adapt? How does this demanding and brave new customer base really impact the bottom line? It all starts with what customers expect of organisations, and how much they align those expectations with where they want to both spend their money and become advocates.
We are seeing a sharp rise in the importance customers are placing on areas such as purpose, ethics, and a human-centric agenda. For example, purpose-driven companies witness higher market share gains and grow on average three times faster than their competitors, all the while achieving higher employee and customer satisfaction [i]. Today’s consumers often identify with a brand’s purpose, seeking to connect at a deeper level even as the brand reciprocally aligns with who they are and who they want to be. In a recent consumer poll, Deloitte asked respondents to share what they cared most about while making decisions about brands [ii]. Our findings revealed that many consumers today make decisions based on how brands treat their people, how they treat the environment and how they support the communities in which they operate. When companies align their purpose with doing good, they can build deeper connections with their stakeholders and, in turn, amplify the company’s relevance in their stakeholders’ lives.
So the key question is how can marketers instil the same bravery that their customers and clients are demonstrating, while ensuring their investments pay off? Often, it’s simply a case of adopting new techniques and ‘failing fast’, trying new methods of marketing in a short time frame and evaluating the results. If it’s found that the methods aren’t achieving positive outcomes, they can quickly be stopped and the lessons learnt communicated.
In 2020, we’ll see forward-thinking marketing leaders pioneer marketing strategies in three brave news ways: human-centric, agile and purpose driven.
Putting the human at the centre of marketing strategy can help brands forge their own path to making an impact that matters. The latest advances in technology offer marketers a raft of opportunities to engage with audiences in bright and sophisticated ways. However, a potential side-effect of digital transformation is that we lose sight of the people we are connecting with, the lives they lead and the values they hold.
As a result it’ll be human-centred campaigns which will be the most impactful, those that re-emphasise the power of human interaction, are shaped around real lives and shared values and communicated in down-to-earth language.
For instance, in Financial Services, instead of talking about products like mortgages, banks are shifting to talk more openly about helping their customers to buy a home. This brings together the brand and their customers in a partnership addressing a shared purpose, rather than in the more traditional buyer-seller relationship. Buying a home is more than a transaction - it’s an emotionally fraught experience, full of ups and downs- and it’s the single biggest investment most people will ever make. Thinking about the human experience of buying a home, increasing empathy, well, it helps banks think more bravely about how they can help – which is a whole different approach from how can we sell more of product x or y.
Don’t expect ‘purpose’ to be uttered any less in 2020 – not only are consumers calling for brands to be serving a positive impact, it also makes business sense. Purpose-driven companies can not only witness higher market share gains but can also achieve higher employee and customer satisfaction.[i] Today’s consumers often identify with a brand’s purpose, seeking to connect at a deeper level even as the brand reciprocally aligns with who they are and who they want to be.
When a brand leads authentically with purpose, it can achieve ‘trusted status’, with its customers, workforce and partners. Fast food companies for instance that aim for transparency in sourcing, and provide clarity over the impact of its product on customers and the environment can earn trusted brand status in the process.
Increasingly, businesses are harnessing the power and opportunity of aligning their purpose with societal good. Whether it’s targeting climate change, social equality or wealth distribution, the brands that are brave enough to change the way they work to deliver a positive impact to society, their customers and their own employees will reap the rewards.
Tech-enabled, data-driven marketing
Data and tech-driven marketing allows brands to respond quickly to their audiences, producing content in short time frames and adjusting it in response to the impact it’s having on engagement. In doing so, brands are better suited to react and create deeper levels of engagement with their consumers. It also reduces the ‘risk’ of rolling-out new social media content and advertising, and lets organisations test and learn from new artwork, wording and go-to-market approaches.
While it's easy to see how this could be applied to digital formats, Deloitte also recently worked with London City Airport to develop gaze tracking advertising on outdoor advertisements. This measured how long people look at adverts and information on display in the airport, allowing brands to ‘test and learn’ which ads are gaining the most attention in real time.
The CMO is responsible for representing the customer to the rest of the business and being brave in creating a purpose that aligns with customer values – whether it be sustainability, social impact or product quality – can have a game-changing impact on the organisation and the wider market. Helping others in the business view consumers as more than just customers, but active stakeholders who invest their money, time and attention in the brand, is the kind of bravery that can truly differentiate an organisation.
Deloitte’s 2020 Marketing Trends are available to download here.
[ii] Deloitte 2019 Consumer Pulsing Survey. Survey methodology: Through a mobile application survey instrument, Deloitte polled a global audience of 4,000 consumers evenly distributed across the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil and China. The sample is equally represented by age and gender.