Consumers are not looking forward to just a great service or product, but to an experience that satisfies their mind and soul
By Meghna Varma
Gone are the days when brands used to target the ‘All good and clean’ image while aspiring to become the ‘number 1 brand’ to run their business. Monthly internal meetings literally constituted brainstorming around ideas to come out as the ‘leading player’, come what may. However, over the last couple of years brands have realized that being authentic, empathetic, and sentient growth is the only way forward.
Catching eyeballs, was the mantra for long for brand traction – crafted yarns, shock value, salacious content often being the trajectory – whatever it took to make it to the consumer’s household. Today brands are much more conscious and conscientious with what they’re endorsing. In the highly connected digital environment, brands simply can’t ‘make it’, without their authenticity intact -with authenticity comes stronger brand connections and powerful resonation and thanks to the virtual and digital world, people are more craved to experience something genuine, true to its promise. What consumers are looking forward to isn’t just a great service or product, it’s rather an experience that satisfies their mind and soul.
The pandemic took a huge toll on the global economy. Various large businesses struggled to merely survive, while a lot of SMEs and small businesses had to shut shop. It became even more critical for businesses to ensure that their existing customers stayed loyal. Brands understood the shifts in spending behavior in line with limited resources and realized that they need to place the consumer at the core of whatever they do. For instance, traditional marketing sometimes made people feel incomplete so they would purchase a product or service, but the idea of conscious marketing is to make them feel better about themselves. Brands are now identifying the customer’s best interest, to make it a win-win scenario for everyone involved. This has helped many brands retain and expand loyalty, while customers found a genuine brand.
Sustainability goes beyond caring for the environment. It involves three major aspects – environmental, economic, and social, each of which must be taken into consideration for a sustainable strategy. The challenge today lies in helping companies transition into a sustainable society, especially if they don’t see returns from investing in sustainability. This barrier must be overcome first before an organization as a whole can commit to sustainability.
As per a report from KPMG, over half the consumers (56%) said that environmental and social practices of a company has a bearing on their purchase decision. This reflects that consumers have developed a high level of awareness when it comes to choosing their favorite brand, but without proper messaging to reach your consumers and show them what your brand is doing, they will end up buying from your competitors. Some of the questions that are commonplace with the modern buyer include – Is the brand environment friendly? Does the brand work towards recycling waste products? A responsible brand will win consumers, despite a stiff competition from its rivals.
How brands present themselves is of utmost importance to win and retain customer loyalty. Today, more than the size or legacy of a business can be easily trounced by how ethically the brand is endorsing its products. Be it a large conglomerate or a burgeoning startup, brand loyalty stems from product dependability. As per KPMG, a whopping 90% of customers are willing to pay more for ethical retailers. This clearly demonstrates that customers have more inclination towards ethical and authentic players, despite the legacy. As consumers are maturing in cities, they are choosing more consciously, even if it costs a little more. Notably, big retail chains have also started betting big on private/smaller labels to provide quality products to their customers. This trend has also created prospects for small private players to come into the field and showcase their true potential to the customers.
Heartfelt, compassionate, meaning in its DNA with a strong vein of community is the yellow brick road for brands – driven by consumer consciousness, brands need to continue to realise that ‘Respect is earned, honesty is appreciated, trust is gained and only then loyalty is returned’
The author is director, marketing, IPM India Wholesale Trading Private Limited (country affiliate of Philip Morris International, Inc.) Views expressed are personal.