How brands leverage consumer engagement & brand advocates

Brand leaders share insights on how to create an impactful consumer connect through brand advocates

by Noel Dsouza
Published - Jul 15, 2019 8:49 AM Updated: Jul 15, 2019 8:49 AM
Brand Advocates

In today’s digital-driven era, consumers have gained momentum to drive forward the promotion of the brand. It’s not just about putting forth the brand's message to the consumer anymore. It is about creating a buzz and developing a relationship with the consumer so that the consumer uses social media to share their views about the brand leading to brand recall ad ROI.

We spoke to agency and brand heads to get their insights on how a brand can develop consumer engagement, make sure the consumer's values connect with the brand's and become brand advocates.

Kuldeep Chaudhary, Chief Executive Officer, ADOHM says that customer engagement is more than just retaining a customer. “Consumers must not only like the product but also understand its real value and how it impacts their business. This comes from noticing that the value that the company is earning for investing in your product is less than the actual amount invested to acquire it”, comments Chaudhary. 

According to Ajit Narayan, CMO, Program Head, SOCXO, most brands fail by not having a customer campaigning process which takes care of the customer post-purchase. Narayan shares, “We assume that a purchase is good enough to exhibit belief. This is where customer service, handholding, and advocacy comes into play. Focusing on endorsements and re-establishing the superiority of the brand is with clear content and campaign.”

“Brands still need to create stories and experiences in a language that makes people connect with the content. The less gimmicky and more transparent you are as a brand, where you keep the customer first, you will garner better engagement”, commented Aakriti Sinha, Director Social Media, Isobar India.

Advertising has become a major component of modern-day marketing strategies, says Sameer Makani, Co-Founder, Managing Director, Makani Creatives. He adds, “Over the years it has built an efficient space within a brand’s business strategy hierarchy. Be it for B2B or B2C communication, implementing advertisements correctly will lead to successfully creating awareness and ultimately foster more conversions and sales. If done keeping the right strategy in mind, consumers are bound to show interest, eventually interacting with the brand. Currently, social media has turned out to be an effortless way of advertising and engaging with customers in a short span of time. Constant intuitive efforts should be made to encourage customers to interact, when executed well, a strong customer engagement strategy will foster brand growth and awareness among the numerous consumers.”

Brand advocates have gained momentum in today's digital-driven age. Chaudhary remarks, “Brand advocates are a new channel of customer-brand contact, it’s crucial to all companies to be part of it because it will increase their relationship with the right audience. It helps to build strong and straight online campaigns.”

Talking about brand advocates, Narayan says they are important, provided they are real and relevant to the brand. “It's not just about reach, but about relevant alignment with the brand's purpose. Brand advocates give customers more reasons to buy more and engage more with the brand. In many cases, customers themselves can act as influencers. To get to that stage one must invest in building great customer relationships, give advocacy opportunities to customers and make an attempt to make the customers famous. The best examples of this come for Royal Enfield in India and Harley in the US. Where customers are the influencers and customers are the advocates for the brand. No wonder these brands have a cult status”, shared Narayan. 

Sai Sangeeta Israni, GM Marketing, Spykar Lifestyles Pvt Ltd shares that brand advocates have their own loyal fan base who admire them and follow them closely. She adds, “Using advocates is an ideal way to reach the consumer’s psyche and take the brand’s message forward, in an organic way. Brands tend to have limited conviction power. Spykar has been working with influencers with credibility in the industry to amplify the messaging in an engaging manner. For the recent Spykar ‘Gym Jns’ launch, influencers helped us reach many unique audiences not previously available to Spykar. Influencers demonstrated the product with action-packed activities, therefore creating believability and taking the brand’s conversation forward.”

Rishi Sharma, AVP, Head Digital Marketing, LIVA, P&F Business, Grasim Industries explains that in the earlier days it was journalists who were the channel for third-party validation, awareness, reviews and to inspire their readers. Today in the digital age it is the people, who have a strong opinion. “With the growing dominance of these ‘influencers’, it has evolved beyond being a business model. Brands find this a very effective way to connect with the consumers and are willing to pay these influencers to drive preferences and POVs. However, with growing spends, it is now a cluttered space and there are too many of these brand advocates. There are chances that a brand is misaligned with an influencer and it may create a snowball effect for the brand. It is important that the brand looks for credibility and check their advocate's followers, activities and ability to present a view”, concludes Sharma. 

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