Enhancing consumer’s daily lives & their communities fosters brand loyalty

In 2013, expect to see more leadership brands addressing local issues that are pertinent to their consumers’ lives before they campaign on behalf of global challenges. Technological advancement is a hygienic factor for all brands Why? In many ways, technological advancement – often reflected by the idea of “new and improved” – has become a hygienic factor for all brands, regardless of the category. If you don’t continuously evolve in today’s world, you are fast left behind.  So while innovation is expected from brand leaders, participants in our CultureQ research believe brands should positively use their prominence and influence first to enhance the lives of individual users and then benefit communities and society at large.  Overall, participants expect leadership brands to evolve our lifestyles, set new standards and progress society. Not surprisingly, a good product is the basis of a strong brand After years of seeking inspiration and aspiration from leading brands, people are clearly focused on the basics.  In a recent CultureQ study, 663 respondents from the US, aged 16 to 65, first and foremost characterize brand leadership by product and service excellence offered at a fair price for the quality.  Respondents, regardless of their generational cohort, decidedly rank attributes such as produces durable/reliable products or services (48%), excellent customer service (42%), and value for quality (41%) as the most important for fostering leadership from a set of 23 potential characteristics.  Unequivocally, a good product is the basis of a strong brand. Yet, respondents also tell us that to become a favorite and cultivate loyalty, a brand leader must also help me in my everyday life (62%), help...

What makes a brand a favorite?

Our latest CultureQ study, which was conducted over the summer, is focused on understanding the attributes that distinguish a favorite brand from those of a category leader, and a good brand citizen. We’ve been speaking a lot about favorite brands in our office over the past few weeks and couldn’t resist giving you a preview…. Not surprisingly, trust in favorite brands is high. People turn to a small repertoire of brands that make up their inner circle and that they instinctively rely on. Participant journals strongly demonstrate that people’s relationships with favorite brands are principally based on highly emotional criteria that in many ways replicate the underpinnings of close friendships. People actively advocate for their favorite brands and a large number consider cheating on them “unimaginable.” In contrast, relationships with leadership brands are based in more functional criteria aligned with the product, (ie durability, innovation) best in class business practices, and to some degree ubiquity. Overall, the difference between favorite brands and leaders is the difference between love and respect. As with people, brand leaders are not always loved - and sometimes people even hope someone else will step in to replace them - but they are always respected. Favorites are loved and respected because of what they mean to people and because of how they are deeply integrated into day to day lives. Favorite brands are distinguished by the following criteria: 1. Clarity: favorite brands: Represent an inspiring philosophy Focus on making people feel special and unique Possess a beauty and simplicity of presentation & in their delivery 2. Context: favorite brands: Make everyday life easier and less...

Wooed by great Customer Service

I recently had what I consider to be an outstanding customer service experience. I’d been looking, looking, looking for an area rug to, not just fill the space under my coffee table, but to make my new apartment cozier.  I’d been close to pulling the trigger a few times, but had not yet felt compelled to pull out my credit card. Then a friend suggested I look at Angela Adams’ rugs.  A quick tour around the site and I was hooked – not only were the rugs great, the prices were good and I loved the intimacy of their site with insight into the people behind the designs and the company.  (www.angelaadams.com) So, after a quick poke around, I finally pulled that trigger on a cream textured 5 x 8 rug which was, BONUS, on sale.  As  I clicked on the thumbnail image of the rug on the site, I was surprised that I could not get any further. Rather than being sent to a shopping cart, I was instructed to call a 1 800 number to complete the sale. Grrr, at first, slightly irritated by this, I picked up the phone and dialed. My irritation was dissipated immediately as what I pictured to be a young woman, sitting in a nice green laid-back town in Maine, where Angela Adams is headquartered, cheerily answered the phone. ‘Lilly’ kindly explained that the reason for not being able to order directly from the site was due to limited availability – in fact there was just one of the rugs left.  She quickly put a hold on the rug to ensure that none of...

Bin the catalogue. Disposable brands.

In my experience the gap between expectation and reality can cause disappointment. This was made clear to me after the birth of my first child. As proud new parents we excitedly commissioned a photographer to take pictures of us with our wee bundle of joy. In my mind’s eye I foresaw the photos turning out similar to an Estee Lauder advertisement - us all dewy skin, with golden locks, white teeth and misty smiles as we tossed our progeny playfully in the air while a golden Labrador puppy played around our picnic basket. When the eagerly anticipated photographs came back they looked somewhat different…Six months of sleep deprivation and no gym visits had clearly taken their toll; we looked pasty and bloated. My hair resembled a raccoon as I’d clearly overlooked the mandatory two monthly visits to the hairdressers in favor of a few too many muffins and whole milk lattes whilst breast-feeding in Starbucks.  My husband’s first reaction on seeing the photographs was that we’d looked like we’d eaten ourselves. Gwyneth Paltrow clearly need not feel threatened! Home shopping using catalogues and online photographs as stimuli reminds me of the salutary lesson learned from that photographic experience. Now as a parent of three young boys I have little choice but to shop from home as visits to the mall, Main Street or the city shops with three young kids in tow is beyond stressful and going alone is a rare treat squeezed between swimming lessons and soccer practice. Lately I’ve become too fixated on Pottery Barn. Online shopping with them would be a breeze if you’re an altogether more...

I’ve got… BMW envy

Last year we moved from the UK to the States. There’s not much I miss about England – certainly not the British weather, whining as a national sport or even the National Health Service.  Yet, one thing I miss more and more is our BMW.  We were proud owners of a silver 5 series touring.  It could comfortably accommodate our rabble of boys and its capacious trunk warmly coveted the significant amount of gear that comes with a family of five. However, being a BMW owner isn’t cheap, the purchase alone could pay three lots of annual school fees and the servicing bill used to bring on a migraine.  Little wonder one of the acronyms for the brand is Borrows My Wallet. So when we moved to New York we decided to plump for a more pragmatic version of premium.  We bought an Acura MDX (for those outside the Americas, an Acura is to Honda what Lexus is to Toyota).  So what was its main attraction?  It met our practical requirements as a family, it was cheaper than a BMW, and unlike some of the American luxury car brands, I didn’t feel like I was driving a bus or a tank.  People told me an Acura was an equivalent car to the likes of BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Volvo.  In my view BMW uniquely delivers an aligned brand experience that leaves its peers at the green light. The experience of being in our BMW was like taking a long deep, calming breath.  I often hypothesized if every person owned a BMW road rage would be a thing of the past...
Mini me

Mini me

I’m not a car person.  Well at least I don’t like to think of myself as one.  And, until about two or so years ago when I admitted there’s a little bit of a car person in each of us, I never put that much of a priority on the car I drove. As a city-girl, I viewed a car as a way to leave town, not something that defined me or even identified who I was to others.  In point of fact, I proudly drove my used Toyota Corolla from B-school for five or more years after I graduated.  After paying for the Corolla many times over in NYC garage fees, my husband and I gave in to our SUV envy.  We toyed with the idea of a Cherokee, but everyone we knew had one and, well, the Range Rover felt just a bit too luxurious to us, especially in contrast to our beloved Corolla. In the end, we opted for a Pathfinder because it spoke to us. Pathfinders were a bit smaller and far less prevalent then and Nissan embodied the idea of life being a journey to enjoy.  Chiat Day understood we were in that phase of taking life too seriously and desired to hold on to some of the freedom work and family obligations were stealing from us. Eventually, we moved to London and although Chelsea tractors, as SUVs are labelled, were appearing, my husband adopted more of a European attitude and chose a Saab 9.5 estate wagon.  Not quite a Renault or Smart Car but moderately better than an SUV.  I liked the Saab...
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