Tag Archives: Harley Davidson

Customer Experience – The Next Warzone

Quote on Customer expereience

Treat your consumers like royalty and they are yours for life

In today’s era where the brands are at the mercy of the consumer and products have become more and more like a commodity, it become imperative for brands to up the ante. Earlier the brands edge was purely based on product superiority and that era has ended as most brands have figured a way to match competition products. Today these brands want to offer more than products more experiences and touch points for the consumers to engage with the brands. And hence brands that strive for excellence customer experience triumph in today’s world.



Everyone wants to be treated like kings and queens and the ones that do get this treatment are the ones that solidify the brand pyramids for brands. Look at cult brands like Harley Davidson, Apple, Ikea, Zappos, etc. These brands don’t just offer products but offer an experience to their consumers which makes the die-hard fans of the brand.

harley, ikea, wwe, VW

According to the 2015 Forrester Research Customer Experience Index, improving the customer experience management is a strategic priority for 73% of businesses, yet only 1% of companies deliver an excellent customer experience.

marketers-the-dreaded-customer-experience-gap_54de4101492a0

Leaving apart a few brands (not considering local ones) most brands have understood the meaning of having a world-class products and they strive for product excellence. It enables them to confuse the consumer with stronger claims that are further amplified via marketing and more often or not that tilts the buyer preference towards their brands. This makes it extremely difficult for the consumers to decide as again they face a problem of brands being seen as a commodity.

The deal just gets better and better for marketers as first we need to first get a great insight and then make sure the insights is relevant and profitable enough to make into a good product. Then make sure the product is delivered as per the brief and better than competition. Post which the create excitement in the market via a robust communications strategy that is in-line with that the brand stands for. This used to work till sometime back but today most brands as mentioned deliver these things so how can one differentiate your product?

One of the key ways to differentiate the brand/product is the uniform experience across multiple touch points. Normally in a business the phase which is the decision-making cycle where the front-line team are interacting with the customer is considered to the most important  focus area. Here the businesses make sure that they create most satisfaction for the prospect to actually become a customer. These organizations fail to recognize that it’s not just about bagging a deal it’s about how this deal becomes beneficial to all in a larger context especially for service industries.

For e.g. an organization would receive hundreds of calls in a day and their priority would be to ensure all calls are handled with extreme care and understanding of the prospects need so when one does a Customer Satisfaction survey on that aspect the rating are normally high, but post experience rating for most organizations drop significantly due to the experience falling short of expectations.

This tells me that every organization that believes in retaining and excelling at customer experience needs to map the customers journey that will throw a tremendous amount of learning’s for the organization which will make sure that customers at every stage are provided with the best customer experience journeys with the brands. By doing so it help the organization in ensuring 2 things – better retention of customer lower acquisition costs and second they being our brand ambassadors and give of more business via more revenue per customer and referrals.

There are multiple ways of improving the Customer Experience or customer journey with brands, will list down my thoughts in my next blog.

WILL BE CONTINUED….

Co-branded Marketing, is it the in thing?

 The Unilever Yum Brands Tie-up 

kissan and pizza hut

Co-branding as a concept has been around for years, but recently we have witnessed considerable activities in this space. But still relatively this is an unused strategy, that helps  boost revenues and brand equity scores for their respective brands that tie-up.
This recent tie up of behemoths Unilever and Yum Brands via their respective brands Pizza Hut and Kissan is a live example of co-branding and executed well via multiple mediums like TVC, POS, etc in the market.
Co-branding is increasingly becoming important as a marketing strategy, as it allows brands to combine their strengths and loyal customer bases, while sharing advertising and promotional expenses to get a better ROMI. With this kind of strategy one brand gets exposed to the consumers of the other brand and increase their prospective consumer base instantly.  More importantly each brand gets a massive sampling via the other brand which if done via the traditional route would cost millions that mean more cost efficiencies.

nike_apple

Why Pizza Hut and Kissan decide to Co-Brand? To start off, both the brands are popular and one of the strongest brands in the food industry which makes them an even match. It’s a powerful way of introducing one company’s products and services to the loyalists of another.



Co-branding also help a brand to get some brand equity rub off from the other brand to oneself, in the current case both signify quality food and naturalness both the brand compliment each other very well. In some cases, companies co-brand to charge a premium, such as Ford’s (F) two-decade partnership with Eddie Bauer and its more recent creation of the “450 horsepower supercharged Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson Super Crew” with an MRP of more than $42,000.

Harley and Ford

Co-branding is an often-overlooked strategy by which the whole can truly be greater than the sum of the parts. While it should be used sparingly and judiciously, it could generate a new level of interest and excitement around your products and services. In this case I truly believe it’s a good fit as in India Pizza is not complete without the tomato ketchup. It’s not just a matter of having the correct brand fit but sometimes it’s also about organization/brand beliefs and goals that may help unite 2 brands.

Your True Brand Ambassador – An Awesome Product

Millions of products in the market but not everything sells like hot cakes. There could be many reasons for the sales of these products to not happen
– Bad Marketing
– Bad Product
– Bad Distribution
– Bad Positioning
– Wrong Market
– Wrong TG
And the list can go on and on……
But there are certain brands where people await the launch of new products, stand in long ques or book the product well in advance to get their hands on the same. Companies or brands like Apple, Harley Davidson, Ikea, WV Beetle, etc are not just known for the latest offering but most people can remember what they started with and what is their current offering. Now think the same about say for e.g. a Samsung who is competing with Apple for the best smart phone, what was the first product they launched, some of us would know but a lot of consumers will not be aware of their first product.
One thing the emerges common among most cult brands is that they have a product which is just awesome. Everything that is put in the product has a purpose and more importantly that same purpose is something that the consumer also relates to and finds its beneficial. Their products are so well made that just a PR leak of they are coming up with a new variant is enough to generate tremendous buzz in the market.



So I guess for me the learning is that if you wanna create a brand / product line which yields revenue over a longer run invest in the product do not leave behind anything to ensure that its the best in class product. Yes there are pressures on budget and this may sound idealistic but ultimately in the market the brand / product pays the price for not being the best. All the other elements like the distribution, marketing mix, etc can be played around but once a product fails its really difficult to make it a success.Often hear from people that these bigger organizations have lots of money to waste on R&D; and MR but ultimately that same research helps to narrow down the likely list of successful products rather than launching products and failing in market.

Super Brands

Everyone aspires to own premium brands even though when they know that the product on offer is either almost same or at times exactly the same. Was just going through some videos on TED Talks and found very interesting trend that was coming up which is how great brands drive certain kind of behavior or in some cases change consumer behavior.superbrands

Some brands have the power to make a difference in consumers life and powerful brands are able to change the way consumers feel, think, and act. They do this when they become part of peoples’ lives by answering the simple problems through their products and services.



There are certain brands that have changed the behavior of consumers and those are brands that are your evergreen brands since they are the strongest at the conviction level. For e.g. brands that changed the way we shop (Amazon, eBay), how we work (Microsoft) and how we access information across anything and everything (Google) basically these brands identified areas and changed the way consumers behaved.

So why do you think these brands did so well or What do these great brands have in common that makes them not just successful but successful over a period of time: zeal to understand latent consumer needs and create them into consumable products and services. It’s an extremely simple concept but not all companies follow this which bring their downfall.

The WHY of any Brand

There are a lot of brands successful and still going strong (cult brands) and then there were some strong brands then but now are either shut or struggling. So how can a brand falter so much when once it was a strong dominant market leader and now a struggling or a bankrupt brand today. How can something go so wrong that it results in well oiled money-making machine going bust. The most common top of mind answers would be – change in strategy, sub-optimal resources, faulty marketing, inefficient sales, etc. But do you think these are the real reasons since all of these could have been changed back to the original ones and the brand would have been back on track.

business and brands

So what happened to make it that irreversible change? I feel that the most important thing for any organization is not ‘what’ they are doing or ‘how’ they are doing but it’s the ‘WHY’ they are doing is the most important thing. The What & How are things like marketing, positioning, strategy which are easily changeable but the moment you change the WHY, which the reason for the brand’s existence then its a serious and a fatal problem.



A brand is started with an end goal in mind which is the WHY and unless the why is clear none of what and how elements make any sense. So if the purpose of a brand changes it is very difficult for a consumer to digest a fact that a brand supplying computers is now making phones hence the belief on the brand is low. Yes companies do go into newer territories to ensure growth objectives are met but then it’s what the company stakeholders want and not what the consumers want.

Just to give an e.g. today radio transistors aren’t something you see but idea of a radio was to entertain so the next logical upgrade for a RT brand is to get into an innovation mode and figure the next mode of innovation like a walk-man or stereo system when they hit the wall in terms of sales. But if a brand got into something like computers which was at that time meant to be the next big thing although logically it made sense to move from transistors to transponders/semi conductors but the mission of the company changed from providing entertainment to easy computing. This is where they go bust.

And if you look at successful brands like Harley Davidson they never change their mission (why) “We fulfill dreams through the experience of motorcycling, by providing to motorcyclist and to the general public an expanding line of motorcycles and branded products and services in selected market segments.” and continue to have all new products, communication and all activities that glorifies the WHY of their brand.

Just feel that it’s important for a brand to stand true to its mission and tweak the vision if at all need be to be successful in the long run.