Consumers today are always shopping. John Bajorek, senior vice president of brand, strategy and design for Pine Strategy & Design, explains, “They might not be physically shopping, but mentally we are constantly processing needs and wants. With a powerful device in our possession at all times, a connected experience is a must have; it is oxygen for a brand.”
And thanks to the ubiquity of brands that are extremely user-friendly, such as Amazon and Uber, consumers have virtually no patience. Shoppers simply won’t stand for a weak, disconnected brand experience.
Gil Walker, CEO of Warhead, which delivers a web design platform that aims to offer tools for quick on-boarding of sites while retaining strong, flexible design and e-commerce tools, sees even household brands forget the importance of having a strategic approach to the Web. “Some companies like Sears are mixing in other brands,” he notes. “They’re trying to do all these different things and ended up turning their websites into a marketplace versus a place to push Sears products. As a contrast, I really love how Best Buy approaches its mobile presence. They have a marketplace as well but they’re very clear about what products that you can pick in store and what is being sold by Best Buy versus its partners.”
Jeff Rosenblum, a founding partner of marketing agency Questus, notes, “When brands empower consumers across the digital journey, they build momentum—not just shifting prospects to customers, but also customers to evangelists.”
The stakes are even higher in some of the most desirable consumer target markets. New research commissioned by Registria found that consumers age 18 to 34 think it’s more important to register products to be notified of deals on accessories or other products than other age groups. The survey also found that people with higher incomes—$75,000 and up—feel it’s more important to register products to stay connected with a brand for VIP and loyalty programs than people in lower income groups.
“Younger and more affluent customers are more open than other demographic groups to want connected experiences with brands,” says Chris McDonald, CEO of Registria. “And younger and more affluent consumers would prefer to have product information delivered directly to their mobile device via an app they already use.”
The 4-1-1 of Mobile Scan
Registering products is getting easier thanks to new technologies that connect the physical world to the virtual. GS1 US’s Mobile Scan enables brands to use a nearly invisible digital watermark that enables consumers to access brand- authorized product information and find interactive brand websites that enable them to register products and more.
“When a consumer interacts with a package using a smart phone, the backend system points them to a website, which informs them more about the product, how it can be used and any type of media a brand would like to do,” Rich Richardson, vice president of standards management for GS1 US, says. “It’s limited only by the amount of backend systems that whoever is using the technology choose, so the sky’s the limit.”
Brands doing it right
Rosenblum’s favorite connected brand experience comes from a new restaurant chain called Sweetgreen, which offers organic meals that are served as quickly and conveniently as fast food.
“The food is delicious but more importantly, there is virtually no friction in the entire experience. It’s a seamless, connected brand experience that extends beyond their products,” he says. “The containers are completely recyclable. You can’t buy bottles of water, but they’ll give you a cup for free water. There’s information about calorie counts and food sources. You don’t even need to wait on line. Their mobile app enables users to place orders and pick them up at predetermined times with complete meal customization.”
According to Bajorek, Starbucks has long been one of the leading brands making connections and its strategy is very effective. He notes, “They have identified their user base, understand their unmet needs and filled them, both from a product standpoint and from an experience standpoint.”
Walker suggests marketers and brand managers look at Nordstrom Inc.’s website as a best-in-class example of how to manage the multiple brand identities inherent in a business like department stores in a cohesive way. He encourages designers to check out Lush Ltd.’s site as an example of how grid layering technology can be paired with compelling visuals to create a fresh, exciting brand identity that is also very organized.
Continuing the Conversation
Engagement shouldn’t stop at the sale. Research has shown that the first 48 hours after a purchase is the best time for brands to initiate a positive interaction with their customers—and this almost always should be done by digital methods. McDonald notes that 40% of buyers say that their post- purchase experience is the most memorable part of their overall brand experience.
“As a result, brands that optimize mobile and digital devices to capture customers immediately post-purchase are seeing millions in additional aftermarket revenue and reduced customer service cost—often an additional $15 to $50 in revenue per post-purchase product registration,” he says. “Welcome emails have been shown to generate three times more revenue than standalone promotional emails. Brands can also engage customers post-purchase by encouraging them to post reviews of their new product.”
From pre-purchase to post, a marketing strategy that engages shoppers can create loyalty, evangelism and unparalleled connections.