[Guest post from Anne Charbonneau, our Managing Partner for France and Benelux.]
This post follows on from an earlier blog about “marketing as service”, also called “brand utility”. Examples of brand utility are Nike’s personal coaching app, and VW creating a car racing smartphone game to launch the new GTi model. If you are interested in this idea for your brand, here are a few tips to help you identify where how to pin down services that could help make your brand more relevant and different.
1. STEP BACK FROM YOUR PRODUCT: WHAT JOB IS YOUR BRAND REALLY DOING?
Take a broader view on where you can add value, beyond product features. Start from your product purpose: what is the job your product is ‘hired to do’ by customers? For example, Ikea is not merely a store where you can buy affordable tables. Ikea is ‘hired’ by customers to bring solutions for when they move or re-think their home. “Furnishing my first flat” is a critical job that Ikea fulfills. With this sort of broader view, you get a good springboard for service ideas, such as these ‘help yourself’ packing boxes on Ikea billboards, spotted in Canada.
Identify gaps and unmet needs along the customer journey and in pre/post purchase moments, and ask yourself what you could do to help. This can lead to fresh services ideas enabling “re-commerce” (remember, 31% of UK internet users have sold goods or services something online in 2011), recycling, easier delivery etc. For example, Nespresso now offer a service to pick up your used capsules for re-cycling when they deliver your new order of capsules.
Today, online brand experiences have become so seamless, satisfying and service-packed than the offline experience can feel a bit poor, especially in retail. Trendwatching.com suggests that the online world should actually be a source of inspiration for better offering: how could you adapt the features people love online to your offline offer?
For example, May 2012 saw C&A roll out special Facebook-integrated hangers across branches in Brazil. The ‘Fashion Like’ hangers are linked to images on the fashion retailer’s Facebook page where C&A posts images of apparel and outfits that its fans can click to ‘Like’. In-store, the hangers display the number of times items have been Liked, updated in real-time so that shoppers can see the popularity of specific products.
In conclusion, thinking about your brand in a broader sense could help you create ideas for adding service elements to your brand. But make sure if you do take this route that the service you offer is good, as 64% of customers have switched companies after experiencing poor service, according to research by accenture.