Consumers have always noticed changes in both their favorite brands and in brands’ consumer marketing tactics. The difference now is that there are multiple, massive, global platforms on which they can discuss them, both with other consumers and with the brands themselves.
Consumer opinions are no longer just shared over the back fence or around the office water cooler.
One thing that fueled the rise of some of the biggest internet retailers like Amazon was a commitment to responsiveness, listening to consumers and doing right by them as expediently as possible. In other words, there is simply no excuse for brands not to listen and respond to consumer insights and use those insights to inform their consumer marketing strategies. A new study highlights just how important this responsiveness is.
Brands Need to Respond Quickly
A survey by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council released its results in August, which were compiled from responses of 150 brand marketers. Its primary finding was that brands’ ability to obtain, understand, and react to consumer feedback and preferences is critical to the delivery of an outstanding consumer experience. Ninety percent of the marketers surveyed ranked this as a critically important determinant of brand performance.
The problem is, only 16 percent of marketers believed their own organizations would be classified as “extremely responsive” to consumers. Most said their organizations failed to make product changes, modify packaging, and change services and experiences based on real-time consumer feedback.
What Holds Brands Back from Acting Quickly
For what are brands waiting? They are waiting for several things, as it turns out. For one thing, many brands simply do not have the budget to make progress toward more frequent updates to their consumer touchpoints. Some do not have the data or the insights gleaned from data to make the right changes based on consumer reactions.
In some organizations, the siloed nature of marketing, product design, and packaging design prevent the depth of communication that would spur consumer marketing changes in a timely manner. Additionally, many have difficulty getting their vendors on board to work quickly or adhere to expedited timelines.
In-Store Physical Branding Still Key in a Digital World
Products’ physical look and feel are no less important to today’s consumers than yesterday’s.
The web and mobility have combined to raise consumer expectations significantly, but at the same time, the in-store consumer experience is as important as ever. So not only do consumers want brands to listen and respond to their feedback and their needs, they also expect the in-store experience to reflect that as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, brands that do not respond quickly and appropriately risk being categorized as irrelevant. That may mean that many brands will have to simplify their value supply chains through methods like automating workflows, tearing down interdepartmental silos, and digitizing tasks that used to be done manually. These steps can make a measurable difference in how quickly brands can respond to consumer feedback and insights.
Dan Gingiss, senior director of global social media for McDonald’s, recently spoke to AdAge about the power of speeding up response time to consumer issues. In his former role at healthcare giant Humana, Gingiss found first-hand that when you reduce response time on social media (from more than 24 hours to roughly 20 minutes in his case), consumers are pleasantly surprised and are inclined to share their positive experience. For many companies, this phenomenon may require biting the bullet, hiring more people, and upgrading IT infrastructure to allow this level of responsiveness.
Never has there been a better time for brands considering steps like automation and new communication paradigms to step up their game. In fact, companies that do not bother to assess and improve the way they handle consumer feedback are brands that may lose out in a big way. This is an age of e-commerce, but people still cherish the physical handling and evaluation of products that happens when they unbox their purchases, or when they compare products on store shelves. Ultimately, consumer marketing must address both the web-centric and in-person aspects of the consumer experience to maintain their success.
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