"Brands are expected to play a social role"

Today, the focus has shifted from achieving consistency across all touch points to being useful to the consumer, notes Charles Wright, MD, Wolff Olins

e4m by Ruchika Kumar
Updated: Oct 23, 2012 8:11 PM
"Brands are expected to play a social role"

Brands are increasingly becoming more conscious about their existence in a consumer’s mind space. Thus, they should leverage from the data into consumer insights to create a more sustainable marketing space for them to survive, adapt to changes and eventually stay relevant to the consumer, observed Charles Wright, Managing Director, Wolff Olins.

In modern times, in terms of creation of brands, the focus has shifted from achieving consistency across all touch points to being useful to the consumer at large and speak his/ her language. He explained that over the years, the agency’s approach to the brand creation process has been a simple one. It follows a basic rule and that is to move brands into the comfort zone of a consumer, where a strong emotional brand could be forged between the two. He further added that currently, there are certain trends that will bring forth a big shift in the world of branding.

The first of these factors or trends is the context, which may be specific to a certain market like India or may be common among some of the emerging markets of the world. “According to our insight, we can foresee the emergence of strong brands from Asia and India particularly. Also, we expect more and more Western brands adapting to the market environment of these countries,” he added. Thus, context plays an important role in shaping up a brand. He cited an example of the Indonesian market, where the age profile of consumers was no longer young, hence, the kind of products being demanded now, will change drastically after 20 years. Hence, brands need to constantly recreate connect with consumers and adapt to change in consumerism.

According to him, “There is a huge opportunity to create brands based on what is important to the customer. However, the challenge is that a typical customer becomes affectionate towards a finite number of brands, so how should one get into that set of brands. In fact he said it is not just about the brand’s role in customer’s life but its role in society. “Based on our findings in India, we found out that both people and Government expect companies to play a social role and take a responsibility that is broader than the concept of profit making,” Wright shared. He also said that brands should stand for something they believe in and that could be in terms of brand personality and attributes such as environmentally responsible, ethical, riding a sense of pride, value for money and more. Therefore, brands today have a political and social role to play too.

He said that brands today should answer demands that have not been met because unmet needs, which cannot be measured, are often where the solution lies. He added that the next big factor that will drive sea change in branding is data. According to Harvard Business Review, the emergence of data is important as managers can measure and, hence, know radically about their business and thus, translate that into improved decision making. “Numbers begin to give us a bandwidth where answers might lie,” he added. However, he feels that many of his clients who have been bitten by the data bug are still looking into what competition is doing and wasting time in that, instead they should focus on developing their own data. Talking about the impact of technology on consumer and industry as a whole, Wright suggested that brands should create valuable propositions to consumers, especially in terms of online presence.

On being quizzed about the basic difference between Indian marketers and their global counterparts, he stressed that the former were more willing to learn and have enormous ambitions fuelled by highly competitive managers. However, on the flip side, in terms of data usage and market research as well its application, the Indian market lagged far behind the others.

He finally asserted that brands should make measure activities through data and create meaningful engagement with consumers. This can be achieved by positive word of mouth and doing something useful for the customer by understanding what matters most to the latter.

Charles Wright was sharing his views at the Delhi leg of the e4m Conclave on October 22, 2012. The Conclave is presented by Jagran.

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