'15 universal human driver meet all brand needs'

JAIPUR: How’s this for a contrarian view? “Brand choice is not necessarily about satisfying need.”

 

 

Rory Morgan

Coming as it did after a well-argued presentation by the guru of direct marketing, Lester Wunderman, that there is a clear link between customer retention and customer satisfaction, bewilderment could be excused. The line taken by Rory Morgan, executive vice president, global marketing operations, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd, only serves to highlight how topsy-turvy assumptions and presumptions are becoming in the Information Age, where change is happening at such bewildering speed.

Morgan said that with product quality becoming of a similar high standard among major brands, choices are increasingly being directed by subjective criteria. According to Morgan, when it comes to strategising, it boils down to just 15 universal human drivers and working out which drivers in combination or individually best meets a brand’s needs.

Christoph Prox

Christoph Prox, managing director, icon brand navigation, took a less radical line but had an interesting take of his own - sensory responses that a brand evokes are critical to its strength. There’s more: “Most consumers do not regard learning about brands as important.” Prox, who spoke on “Learnings from International Power Brands”, drew attention to the iceberg while putting forth his proposition.

As an iceberg has a small visible portion that sticks above the sea while the main mass floats below, for brands there is the top portion, which he termed brand iconography - defined essentially as what a consumer experiences of a brand. The lower non-visible part is brand credit, which defines the real value of a brand as opposed iconography, which represents the communication that has been done around the brand. Increase in brand credit would has a direct correlation with market share though the results may not manifest themselves immediately.

It is iconography that spikes a brand’s appeal in the short term. Therefore, smartly increasing brand iconography increases brand appeal.

Not only do power brands exploit their brand credit better than others, such brands have a higher goodwill exploitation value of 70 per cent, said Prox.

Prox gave the example of Nokia as one where the sensory signals the brand evoked had an immense impact on sales. According to Prox, a huge reason why Nokia went from its ho-hum position in 1999 to that of the fifth most powerful brand in the world today was the distinct shape of the handset that is immediately recognisable.

Why was this so critical? Because there is no real tangible difference between competing brands as far as quality is concerned. This was a point that Morgan made in his talk.

Morgan said, “We may need to look at core human values and needs for a perspective of the brand and less from the personality of the consumer.” Brands work because they are built around the possibility of meeting needs, Morgan said. It is possible therefore, to devise a “system for understanding the way in which human beings relate to brands and actually develop a projection identifying the link between brands and need,” he concluded.

So what are these drivers? Feel-good, fun (enjoyment in an active way), self indulgence (with a decadent backdrop and a hint of sin), harmony, knowledge (being smart, wise), individuality, security (physical, financial), respect, attractiveness, love (unselfish like that of a parent), belonging (peer groups), control, tradition, leadership and freedom, put precisely.

These drivers can be used to negative effect as well (self indulgence and obesity so use sugar-free, for instance).

Morgan distilled his findings from a survey of 2000 people in 13 countries as well as utilizing a lot of academic research that he and his colleagues cherry picked.

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