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Innovation Through Diversity: Global Marketing

By: Alexandra Fritsch-Gil, Jason Boland, Maria Bowman, Lauren Hoffman and Breanna Martin
Posted: June 8, 2012

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As consumers share more and more about themselves, their purchasing patterns and behaviors online, data about each consumer can be gathered, allowing brands to build unique profiles of each, individual consumer. Each consumer’s unique behaviors and patterns, feed into their own, personal, digital fingerprint. This digital fingerprint becomes the way in which the brand can learn about each consumer, based on their unique patterns, and engage in the one-on-one conversation with each consumer. These unique and personal consumer insights will help brands connect on a more emotional level with consumers and aid them in delivering customized and tailored messages to each consumer. In the future, it will allow marketers to go beyond traditional segmentation and speak to consumers as individuals.

The Bonding Helix

In our research, we have considered all previous marketing models that do not best leverage rapid changes in technology. We have created a more dynamic model that provides greater interaction between brand and consumer. The new bonding helix allows beauty brands to have the one-on-one conversation by leveraging the global consumer’s digital fingerprint. At every touchpoint, both consumer and brand share insights, leading to a stronger bond. This multidimensional and dynamic model will ensure brands are connecting and listening to their consumers by delivering customized messages that are unique to them. This is a model for the mobile age, adaptive and flexible to accommodate future advances in technology.

The Backbone of the Model—Consumer and Brand

The first strand of the bonding helix represents the consumer, who seeks to bond with brands that understand them and are relevant. They want to be acknowledged and rewarded for being an active participant in the relationship with the brand. Today’s busy consumers are starved for time and look to brands to create shortcuts to simplify their lives. This time-starved consumer and the emergence of mobile phone usage creates a new concept of “brand butlers” where it is becoming customary for brands to serve their busy customers on-the-go.3 It is for this reason that the consumer becomes a more active and constant presence in the bonding helix model.

The second strand of the bonding helix represents the brand. This model allows the brand to develop a much stronger understanding and respect the needs of the consumer because of the bonds at each touchpoint. Consumers constantly share information with brands. With 59% of people reporting that they often share content online with others and a New York Times story being tweeted once every four seconds, consumers share content to connect with the world and others.4 The brand needs to understand this psychology of sharing. This creates an opportunity for brands to gain new insights, developing a stronger cultural IQ. Observing and understanding these insights, or cultural IQ, allows the brand to better connect on a subconscious level, with more emotional and intimate messages. And, by becoming the consumer’s personal concierge, brands can curate, adding value to their lives.

The Bonds Explained

The brand and the consumer share six bonds. These bonds connect the brand and the consumer, allowing for an engaging one-on-one conversation. The sharing of information becomes the glue that strengthens the bond between the brand and the consumer. Without strong bonds, they remain disconnected.

The first three connections between consumer and brand are the traditional touchpoints of consider, evaluate and buy. The digital era makes these first three steps difficult to decipher. It can begin with a Google search, and end in a purchase in a matter of minutes. And the decision process is often subconsciously decided.

By creating strong bonds, brands are able to more effectively move them through the purchase decision, creating more loyal consumers. In the Consider touchpoint, consumers become aware and learn about your brand and products. During the Evaluate touchpoint, the consumers evaluate if your brand is right for them by aligning their values. They look for reviews, referrals and guidance from friends, family, bloggers and editors. And during the Buy touchpoint, they make the purchase. In the new model, the bond does not stop there, it is just the beginning.

New Enhanced Bonds

The next three bonds are: Re-evaluate, Loyalty and Influence. The consumers then Re-Evaluate their purchase, to decide if they want to continue the relationship with your brand. This could mean becoming a fan, sharing your brand message, or seeking validation from friends. The next bond, Loyalty, remains as crucial as ever. In the recent economic crisis, loyalty took a hit from consumers as the bond shifted with changing consumer habits.5 As a result, Loyalty remains a key bond for brands today as consumers are more impulsive and less loyal as a result of changed purchase behavior. Mobile platforms and purchases on-the-go make this impulsive behavior even more prevalent.

The end goal has now changed for marketers, to go beyond purchase and loyalty, and to establish a more lasting bond, Influence. Diverse consumers today have a voice, and the power, to influence more people than ever before. Their influence impacts the brand. Social media enables consumers to Influence by speaking to millions and potentially billions of people. And this is not a concept limited to the developed markets. For example, China has the top ranking social media activity in the world with 84% of Internet users contributing at least once a month to social networking, blogging, video-uploading, photo-sharing, microblogging, forums and other digital sharing platforms. China is then followed by Russia, Brazil and India.5 And consumers aren’t just connecting on personal interests unrelated to brands. Currently, 50% of people follow brands through social media exemplifying consumers desire to connect and converse with brands.7

And it is the consumer’s digital fingerprint that empowers the brand to go beyond these basic touch points and to bond with consumers on a deeper, more emotional level. All of this can be achieved through the new bonding helix.

Practical Application of the Bonding Helix

To start, brands must create and provide customized digital content that is tailored to the diverse consumer and his or her unique needs. In order to bond with consumers more emotionally, brands will need to identify and learn from environmental, geographic, behavioral and emotional factors. Technology can help brands identify these factors, such as advancements in facial and behavioral recognition. Brands must also evaluate consumers’ access to technology to deliver the messages in a way that adds value to their lives and that conveniently reaches them. Finally, the brand will need to identify where the consumer is within the bonding helix journey and tailor the message and approach accordingly.