Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A New Perspective on Building Brand Loyalty

One of my must-read blogs each week is Aaker on Brands, and this week's post offers some interesting new thoughts on building brand loyalty. The post is titled "Does Brand Love Really Exist", and recounts a recent study exploring what a person means by loving a brand or other object and a quantitative study to identity its underlying dimensions and the output or value.

The qualitative studies found that subjects identified these ten characteristics for brands they loved:
  1. The brand is the best in every way from value, to key attributes, to experience. 
  2. The brand connects to something deeper than its functional benefits. (e.g. Apple represents creativity and self-actualization.).
  3. The brand creates emotional benefits like being happy (e.g. “Pinkberry frozen yogurt makes me smile.”).
  4. The brand provides self-expressive benefits and high levels of word-of-mouth buzz.
  5. The brand generates affection and warm-hearted feelings. 
  6. There is a natural fit and harmony between the user and the brand they love.
  7. The brand stimulates a desire to maintain proximity to the brand and even feeling “separation distress.” 
  8. The brand engenders a willingness to invest time, energy and money into loved brands
  9. The brand is somehow involved in frequent, interactive contact with the consumer.
  10. There is a long-standing relationship history.
These findings were from a qualitative study, but a separate quantitative study by the same researchers found that the brands people profess to love predict loyalty, word-of-mouth communication and resistance to negative information.  As David concludes in his post "This, to me, is an impressive validation and elaboration of what had been basically a common sense analogy. Each of the 10 characteristics has implications about the creation, maintenance and measurement of loyalty."

So what does this mean for you and your clients, and the marketing programs you develop?  
Well, it is certainly a validation of the need to understand and communicate the emotional benefits, not just the attributes of your brand. But more than that, I think it says that brands should be treated as a  living, breathing extension of their users if they want to be "loved".

And if they want to have a loyal user base.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Latest Pew study shows 59% of smartphone users access social networking sites, and 55% using mobile or geo-location services

The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project - 2011 Spring Tracking Survey confirms that smartphones continue to capture our imagination and our usage.

And if your company isn’t learning all you can about how to use mobile for marketing, you will be left behind.

In their study of over 2,270 adults (18+), more than a quarter of all American adults—28%—use mobile or social location-based services of some kind.

While the majority of smartphone usage is for texting (92% of users), photos (92%) and email (76%), these statistics stand out as it relates to mobile marketing:
  • 59% of smartphone owners use their phone to access social networking sites, and 15% use their phone to access Twitter.
  • 55% of cell owners use phones to get directions or recommendations based on their current location—that works out to 23% of all adults.
  • A much smaller number (5% of cell owners, equaling 4% of all adults) use their phones to check in to locations using geo-social services such as Foursquare or Gowalla. Smartphone owners are especially likely to use these services on their phones.
  • 9% of internet users set up social media services such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn so that their location is automatically included in their posts on those services. That works out to 7% of all adults. 
In total, 28% of U.S. adults do at least one of these activities either online or using their mobile phones—and many users do several of them. This is the Pew Internet Project’s most expansive study of location services to date. As smartphone usage continues to grow, I expect we will see these numbers continue to climb.

It’s time to get on board the mobile train (or at least get prepared to help your clients determine their needs and strategies), or be left at the station.

For a complete look at the Pew study, click here.