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We can't rely on rational, loyal consumers - Continental

No longer can brands rely on the loyal, regular and rational customer; in fact, products are likely to be bought by a disloyal, irregular and emotional customer. Essentially, companies need to totally rethink their marketing strategies. So said Pip Hainsworth, guest speaker at Continental Outdoor Media's first Continental Conversations function.
We can't rely on rational, loyal consumers - Continental
"Because of the changed understanding of the consumer in recent years, there has been a concerted effort to uncover a more in-depth and robust picture of customers," said Hainsworth at the event.

Hainsworth, who hails from the UK and who is considered a marketing guru in the outdoor media sector (stemming from her time at Clear Channel), highlighted the trailblazing research on consumer habits conducted by The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising.

"It was found, from the institute's study, that across hundreds of brands and sectors, the importance of emotionally-charged advertising outweighed that of appealing to the consumer's logical and rational mind. So for instance, advertising price offers won't really cut it in terms of hooking your customer," she said.

Interestingly, the fame model is the most effective emotional strategy of all. Making your brand famous in its category can lead to big profit gains.

"Human beings employ rules of thumb when faced with a plethora of choice, and these can include price, familiarity, fame and social proof. People will choose a brand that they have heard of, that is famous, or that their friends recommend," Hainsworth asserted.

Barry Sayer, CEO of Continental Outdoor Media, expanded Hainsworth's sentiments by illustrating how marketers are not only intent on understanding their customers - the sometimes irrational and emotional way they make their choices and the surge of reactions if a brand gets something wrong - but also how they live their lives and make their choices. "We are seeing how campaigns are often multi-dimensional, multi-sensory and holistic, with a continuing conversational brand presence, rather than the peaks and troughs of yesteryear," said Sayer.

Added Hainsworth: "For brands to be truly differentiated, they have to go beyond traditional ratings tools and rather delve deep into the psyches of consumers." 'Psychographic' variables as they are known in consumer research are attributes relating to personality, values, attitude, interests and lifestyles. It thus expands on 'demographic' variables like age and gender or behavioural variables such as usage rate.

"These kind of 'psychographic' variables may be helpful to marketers in reaching a more aware, empowered and often skeptical consumer. Brands are thus moving towards developing closer relationships with their customers and to understand them as real people," she said.

Hainsworth used the example of Unilever, which she said was a company which supports its brands with excellent marketing and multi-channel communication. "Companies increasingly have to be engaged with their customers at all hours, often must think globally as well as locally, and have to be involved from the board down, in being clear about the company's purpose, in engaging with consumers, embracing technology and in extracting maximum value from data. It is no wonder that we have seen a large number of company restructures, at Sony, P&G, News International and Yahoo, among others, as chief executives position their businesses to be more flexible, fast and innovative for the future, because it will come down to survival of the fittest."

17 May 2012 12:53