Brands today need strong reference to user experience than any big celebrity endorsing it.
The collective voice generated socially, superior buying experience and greater after-sales service will, in my view, create an evolving brand persona that will reflect the Power of One (that single prospect/customer/user). In today’s hyper connected world everyone has a face and a voice that a marketer is forced to see and hear. That’s the power of ‘Social’ and YOU are the BRAND. What she thinks about your brand is going to be supremely important as opposed to any persona composed and imposed by any marketer. Those days are gone.
The buying experience does not start at the Point of Sale (Bricks and Mortar or Online). In my view, it starts at the Point of Social Reference fuelled by mobility of information accessed on any device appropriate to your context at the Point of Thought (I think I need this or want this).
Marketers are no longer in control of the brand message. At best, they can only synthesise and connect the social dots coming at them.
Mind Share for a Brand is crowd sourced today on social platforms. Marketers are no longer in control of the brand message. At best, they can only synthesise and connect the social dots coming at them to create a brand persona that is derived from the cumulative experience of the crowd searching, buying and experiencing their products and services.
Which brings me to another critical paradigm shift that completes this thought.
Traditionally, after-sales service is a separate bundle thrown in with a product or service starting from a Warranty/Guarantee – “I will choose what is free and paid for,and I am doing you a favour anyways!” – period progressing to either an Annual Maintenance Contract or an episodic pay as you go: “I will choose what I can do for you, when, and decide what you pay, and this will be a brilliant profit centre for me, and a cost centre for the hapless customer during the life cycle of the product.”
This is what I call the Model of Diminishing Customer Experience (a bit like the classic economic Theory of Diminishing Returns) to a point where many consumers, at the fag end of the life of the product, will switch brands when they need to replace the product. The shift that we will see, will be from a perspective of treating every buyer as your Consumer-for-Life. Customer-for-Life, which is a much bandied tag line for some brands, doesn’t sound engaging enough from a user perspective.
In this model, every brand will be co-created by the company that offers a product/service and you and I who will consume it. In other words, every brand will be a reflection of a co-created experience. The brand will be relevant to the experience it offers right from the Point of Thought to the Point of Social Reference to the Point of Sale to the Point of Use – throughout its entire life cycle, and then to the Point of Replacement.
It will be a virtuous cycle of continuous and reliable improvement, innovation and evolution catering to an ever changing set of consumer expectations in the brave new world where every single consumer is the face of your Brand defined by her experience.
In my next article, I will highlight how the CEO and Marketer of today should focus on uber Consumer Experience to co-create a Brand with YOU and not the other way around. More importantly, how technology enables this.