If Brands are shortcuts for the customers to associate themselves with an emotion, where is the rationality in the purchase decision? (In B2C). It supports the fact that ‘Purchase is a 99.99% emotional decision’. Some realize it, while most deny it. The decision to purchase is already made (involuntarily) and all that the mind is only looking for confirmation proofs to validate that attraction. But we get to hear customer stories justifying one’s action as purely rational. How gullible!
Customers, also, do give brands time to correct themselves but only when it becomes hopelessly irrevocable or when brand has affected customers’ ego so badly, does post purchase dissonance (PPD) happens. So how can brands attract, retain customers and reduce PPD? A simple guide.
1. Identifying the emotion
Unlike our movies, and as you know it, a brand cannot stand for love, affection, action, comedy and sentiment. It is at best associated with one emotion and the toughest part for the marketer is probably to choose just one and forgoing other emotions. The first step as ever diligent marketer does is to identify the target group. But how does he/she choose the emotion?
Look for existing emotions amongst the competitors
Pick one that isn’t yet well entrenched in this market and synergistic with product
Validate if it will cut the ice amongst our TG
Indulgence, Pride, Honesty, Luxury, Premium, Trust, Friendly, Value-for-money, Affection, Loyal are some of the most commonly found emotions among brands. The one emotion that probably can stand out amongst the crowd and enable quicker access amongst different TGs is “Humor”. It becomes even more powerful when it’s not used by anyone else in that market or when used for new product entry.
2. Proposing to the customer
The customer shall fall head over heels with the proposal. Hence, we better make sure it has to be the one that he/she hasn’t heard or seen before. The proposal shall encompass:
· A (brand) story/promise and a set of (brand) values around the emotion
Backed by performance of the product
It’s beli evable
· A place and time for proposal.
Where to be seen by the customer first?
During which occasion?
And we ensure it doesn’t fall into this category
It’s not overtly pretentious
It’s not monotonous
Not seen at the most difficult situation for the customer when he is in the most unfortunate frame of mind.
So that, after all, this shall be an offer that one can’t refuse, like Marlo Brando says.
3. Accepting the Verdict.
It will be suicidal to think that once the proposal is made, the customer has heard it. It’s one out of the many that he/she has heard for the day (just that day), right from that moment he/she picked that newspaper from his front door mat which screams of two full page proposals to the moment one shuts of his/her FB/twitter/YouTube feeds in the night bed that constantly bombard not-so ‘in-the-face’ advertorials (Sarcasm intended).
So, however great the proposal could be, it could just be lost in the mammoth wave of proposals in a daily customer’s life. A one-page perfumed advertisement in a newspaper is like a Kanitkar boundary of the last ball. I can’t even remember the brand which did that. Hence the need for brands to practice consistency, perseverance and insistence, but without intrusion or causing boredom. For that matter, those small 2X2, seemingly innocuous looking advertisements in daily locals do a fantastic job on persistence, presenting themselves daily to the customers. I can’t say that’s the best strategy, but the larger point being the brands present themselves to the customer’s repeatedly and have to be persistent with their proposals.
Proposal >>> Consistency >> Persistence (without intrusion or boredom
What some of the successful brands do is to look for early cues and course-correct themselves which is part of any brand journey. However, the brand manager shall ensure the brand promise or story is not diluted and that the Brand communication shall remain a Continuous improvement exercise.
So to say, while rejection among non-TG is well accepted, it shall not be accepted within our core-TG. Maybe, that acceptance is just delayed?
4. Journey with the customer
Thus, the Customer begins the fantastic journey with the Brand with the act of purchasing the product. So is the case, any action is destined to bring with it an opinion, review and referral. It could be a soft opinion or harsh opinion, loaded or candid review, an active or casual referral. But nevertheless, there is bound to be one. While the brand manager takes great care till the proposal and communication is made, he/she sort of takes the approach of a married man here, now that the customer is won over. This is where I suppose the Ivy league brands differentiate themselves so sharply, I suppose.
4.1 Continuous engagement:
It starts with how the brand treats the customer. Some questions to ponder:
· Does it treat it as just a transaction or a relationship? If so, what is the level of relationship it wants to maintain.
· What extent will it got to serve you well?
· How important you are considered by the brand?
· Does the brand repeat itself on its promise or proposal even after conversion?
4.2 Handling customer objections:
One of the key characteristics that differentiates ordinary from extraordinary is to ‘standby the customer’ during times of crisis. Even when you look at it dispassionately, this quality pays so well. Leaving aside the “Kashtomer” (as Mr.Bala Balachandran says. Kashtom in Tamil means “difficult’) with his extraordinary expectations or misplaced belief, the brand that supports a customer in a genuine need goes a long way in getting 10X benefits that doesn’t get reflected in sales books or promotional budgets or ROI of marketing programs. May be this metric could be measured in some of the digital products. But in real world all these go unmeasured.
Sales = Service
A service need is an opportunity to get more customers!
This can’t be achieved by paying servicemen some paltry salary and huge incentives for salesmen. The management ought to treat it as two eyes. How easy it is to say all these things, after all.
4.3 Reduce PPD
Expectations. Is there a science to setting expectations? As PPD is painful, dreadful and tear the brand from inside, brand managers have to stand guard against the following
· Hyperbole: Committing too much on product or service than one can deliver
· Poor product/ service testing before market launch
· Overlooked service set up
· Communication failure: Miscommunication by Distribution partners and salesman.
This can be overcome by
· Communication testing
· Product testing
· Service back up
· Training / sales pitch
Even after all this, PPD is for real. So smart managers have mitigated it by offering immediate product replacements, offering some related freebies, revoking sales of product depending on the brand image and promise. Because, they will have respect the customer emotion as that’s the one the marketer is appealing to! The irrational part!