A company’s main objective goes beyond a single sale to one customer. Usually the ultimate objective is to build a durable relationship between a specific brand and a particular customer group and to create a strong bond between brand and buyer! Whether it is between parent and child, friend or loved one, or consumer and brand, bonding is a process of courtship between suitor and beloved. The courtship between a customer and a brand includes identifiable phases including introduction, familiarity, then preference, and finally, if successful, a loyalty that excludes relationships with rival suitors.
Do you have a Good Game Plan?
Inbound and outbound marketing provides the introduction and familiarity. The next two steps , building preference and loyalty are a bit more sticky. A few good moves can win the day, but too many bad ones along the way will lead to rejection and failure. So the effective business person, like the successful suitor ,needs a good, sound game plan.
In a very real sense, marketing and promotion constitute a battle for the minds of consumers! Virtually every company competes with every other to rise above the advertising noise and gain the attention and interest of the buying public. This means that every marketer should be concerned about how customers develop their likes and dislikes in order to develop positive preferences for their brands.
How to make Customers love your brand
Perhaps the first and most important question to ask is “How will my prospective consumers develop their preferences for my brand?” If you know the answer to that question, then you can help them build the kind of preference that will ensure greater patronage and loyalty.
1. Need Association: Repeatedly link a need to your product or service.
The essence of this simple brand preference-building mechanism is merely to present the product or brand name and a particular need, simultaneously and repeatedly. Constant repetition is the key. Those exposed to such conditioning may eventually learn to associate the brand with the need.
For Example, a sweating bottle of coke, make one feel… thirsty
2. Mood Association: Repeatedly associate a mood to your brand
The objective of mood association is to imbue the product or brand with a positive aura, and it is a popular consumer preference building technique . Mood association requires the brand name to be associated with a particular form of pleasant hedonic state such as leisure, recreation, relaxation, achievement, companionship, or some such condition.
For example , Cadbury uses mood association in its Galaxy chocolate bar advert where the mood is a relaxed , quiet and peaceful me-time.
3. Behaviour modification: Reward consumers for buying your products or brand
In behaviour modification theory, basic consumer needs such as hunger or thirst typically comprise the drives with which marketers work. This preference-building mode works best for products that provide strong, sensory satisfaction especially consumable products containing substantial amounts of sugar, alcohol, caffeine, or nicotine. Products containing these substances not only have strong reward value, but in a short period of time they also tend to regenerate the drive state, leading to the next conditioning cycle. The “high” that results from consuming them is closely followed by a “slump” that encourages the user to return for another bite, sip, or drag. The reward is the consumption and the feeling that results from it. Therefore in marketing these products, include pictures, emotions and messages that reinforce these feelings.
4. Cognitive processing: Create favourable attitudes by penetrating perceptual and cognitive barriers.
The more important the purchase is to the consumer, the more likely the buyer’s preferences will result from cognitive processing. This brand preference-building mode is most likely to apply to conscious choices where the buyer is highly involved in the purchase decision process and where the purchase is high value (a car) or is important to the customer.
Knowledge and beliefs are created by informative messages. But such advertising or promotion has to overcome several, strong communications
- Selective exposure
- Selective attention
- Selective perception
- Selective retention
- Selective recollection
- Selective application
To penetrate these communications barriers, brands should use media that will reach their target audience, with sufficient frequency to provide repeated exposure. The messages may use devices such as novelty, humour, or even satire in order to gain the audience’s attention.
Brands also need to use persuasive communications to develop positive evaluations of their goods or services. The objective of persuasive communications is to make positive links between what the audience knows or believes about the brand and the values that customers hold.
5. Model emulation: Present “the same as us” or idealized social lifestyle models for consumers to emulate
People learn far more by emulating models than in any other way. Yet most people would probably be surprised at that statement, and many would probably take issue with it. In fact, we learnt the vast majority of our behaviour by emulating others when we were very young children, including speech, gestures, and everyday behaviour, as well as what is good and bad, right and wrong, desirable and undesirable.
Even as adults we still depend very heavily on this kind of learning, especially when we are thrust into an unfamiliar situation or role. Think of it for a moment: what would you do if you were to attend a Zulu or a Catholic wedding ? Your first impulse (and probably the most effective approach) would be to look around at others who were familiar with the situation and simply do what they do put another way, model emulation!
Many advertisements that include celebrities movie or television stars, famous athletes, or other prominent personalities also depend on the consumers’ tendency to emulate such famous models.
While it may be increasingly difficult to find “good” role models, brands should target their communication to stages in consumers’ developmental life cycles in order to identify and use appropriate role models for people to emulate. For many people, other ordinary “like us” individuals are the best people to use as role models because customers can easily relate to people who look and behave like them.
Choose your weapons
Each of the five consumer preference-building methods outlined here requires a particular kind of product, pricing, promotion, and distribution. The choice depends partly on the nature of the branded product or service itself, and the extant or “given” aspects of the marketing mix. Choose your weapons well.
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