In a world of global brands we are beginning to see a shift in the way big brands behave and are doing so with transparency, trust, generosity and with a smaller attitude.
In order to win over the hearts and minds of todays consumer, big brands are realising it’s no longer enough to just focus on what you give a consumer in a world of product or service, but how you do it. Next generation brands are not just investing in tangibles but intangibles that contribute to make up a great overall ‘brand experience’.
Global markets are becoming more saturated and competitive. The biggest risk that companies face today is having their products or services turned into commodities, with consumers using price as their only criteria for selection. Companies that just compete strictly on price are rarely the survivors, and in order to gain loyalty, brands need to engage and make consumers feel that the brand is a part of them and their lifestyle.
Many growing organisations are faced with the myriad of logistical issues when trying to increase and streamline their operations to cater for the mass market, and in doing so sometimes lose that personal service or indeed the focus that made them once special. Generally consumers expect to get a better or more personal service from a boutique size operation rather than the large corporation. However this does not have to be case.
Big brands are responding to this by behaving smaller, and only need to look back on how things used to be done to regain what has been lost.
Here are some observations on big brands behaving small that go from complex to simple gestures of generosity.
An airline that understands how to fuse attitude with innovation. Virgin Atlantic brings a breath of fresh air to their out-dated competitors. By getting to know Club World customers Virgin understood their needs.
Virgin realised that good service does not always have to mean being waited upon. The ‘Raid the Larder’ concept allows passengers to help themselves to food and drink at any time of the night rather than waiting for the meal service. It gives customers a level of control and empowerment, and allows them to behave like they are at home.
Fast growing coffee and sandwich chain Prêt a Manger sets out to offer fresh food, friendly employees and a fast service. On occasion particularly when the store is busy staff have been known to offer free coffee ‘on the house’ for being patient while waiting to pay for their food. That gesture itself creates a great ‘brand moment’ and reinforces a positive impression and brand loyalty - just what your family run Italian run café would do.
Kwik Fit have been known on occasion not to charge customers for small jobs as a generous gesture knowing that you will return.
B&Q are employing retired trades people to give expert advice based on their wealth of experience, and are regaining some of that honest and professional service we have come to expect from the smaller local hardware expert.
London based drinks company Innocent, a relatively new player to the drinks business, has impressed analysts with its ability to win customers over with an environmentally - friendly business image. The brand offers completely pure, fresh and unadulterated drinks made from 100% natural ingredients. Often seen at music festivals and outdoor events as well as organising their own such as the ‘innocent village fete’, the brands attitude is open, honest and small.
UK home appliance manufacture Kenwood on the other hand engages with its next generation of consumers by bringing creativity to your school kitchen and classroom. They have developed the ‘School for Life’ resource, a free online resource to help teachers enrich the delivery of Food Technology. The resource aims to promote the benefits of healthy food choices, fresh ingredients and local produce. They are also sponsoring the British Food Fortnight Cook for Life Challenge, the event’s initiative invites cooks and chefs to work with schools to teach children how to cook.
These are examples of brands achieving a real sense of connection with their consumers, and are doing so in different ways. Some are simply breaking down barriers and treating consumers with a grown up and more human attitude. Others are just behaving more local. They also demonstrate that it not all about creating complex or expensive marketing campaigns but in some cases very simple gestures. We have also observed changes in the way brands see themselves, less as editors, producers and broadcasters but as promoters of co-created experiences.