Consumers are looking for connections with the brands they use at multiple levels, across various digital platforms and social media channels. What’s more, the experience in stores must deliver on the brand promise; staff should know their products.
“Omnichannel brand engagement is not a simple process and ideally it needs to be driven at board level, with leadership committing to investing the resources it requires,” says BMi Research CEO Gareth Pearson. It requires strategic intent. “Creating a thread that runs through the entire business, both in the digital world and the physical world, is a strategic decision. Get it right and you’ll have a clear competitive advantage. Get it wrong and your brand will be perceived to have lost touch with its consumer base, particularly among millennials,” he maintains.
Pearson says omnichannel engagement through technology means aligning with the consumer’s lifestyle across three areas: it must be mobile (accessed from anywhere), fast (in real time) and individual (communication must be personalised).
Brands that get it right empower their staff and involve them in the process of developing digital platforms. “There is a disparity between the leaders of an organisation, who traditionally tend to be a little older, and the younger consumer,” Pearson points out. He says hiring and empowering younger people is an effective way to bridge the gap and provide insight into the world of the consumer. Young people, he says, understand today’s consumer – not only their purchasing behaviour, but also what frustrates them or makes them happy.
The brand’s promise has to be more than talk. Consumers have access to more information than ever before and false promises will be instantly exposed, says Pearson. “Consumers will talk about brands on social media and this can be your greatest asset or your biggest liability,” he cautions.
Authentic communication can be as simple as detailing exactly what is contained in certain foods – the label must show precisely what is in the product. If a product comes with instructions, they should be clear and easy to follow. Getting the messaging right is a crucial aspect of delivering on the brand promise and ensuring that consumers have a positive experience of the brand.
Consumers are looking for three simple things from brands, says Pearson – authentic, transparent and engaging communication.
The big take-out: Consumers expect to engage with brands across various technology platforms, as well as in real time. They want to have a consistent experience across every platform and demand that brands resonate with their lifestyles and deliver on the promises they make.