Your consumer has a relationship with your brand. It is probably not as close or involved as you would like to think. Even the most brand loyal of your consumers probably barely thinks about your brand. But, if they buy it, even just occasionally, they have some relationship with it. As with all relationships, this one will benefit from a little nurturing.
It may be difficult to believe if you are a fan of the various dating programmes on T.V., but the best way to nurture a relationship is not to keep repeating how great you are. It is generally more effective to understand the needs of the other party and to gently ensure that you meet those needs. It is also worth noting that their most important needs are not the obvious rational ones, but their deeper emotional needs.
In fact, it is when you access and meet these deeper emotional needs that the relationship blossoms and becomes something more beautiful and long lasting.
So why then do so many brands still shout about how great they are, and why do so many of those that claim to target their consumers’ emotions barely scratch the surface, never really accessing their consumers’ deeper emotional needs?
Perhaps it is because, like so many of those forlorn, love-lost youths on the dating programmes, they are either too obsessed with their own attributes or they have no idea how to, or are too lazy to, access their consumers’ deeper emotions.
This is of course, what makes the T.V. programmes good T.V. (I hesitate to say entertaining). But the only people that enjoy observing this behaviour in brands are your competitors.
When a consumer says that they like a brand, what they really mean is that they like the way that it makes them feel. The branding, the messaging and their use or consumption experience evokes an emotional journey in the consumer. It is not just a single emotional reaction but a whole complex emotional journey.
Many brands think they focus upon consumers’ emotions but, in fact, focus upon just the end point of the journey – how the consumer feels after consuming the product. To truly understand your relationship with your consumer you need to understand how your brand took your consumer to that end point. You need to understand the whole emotional journey.
Your consumer does not choose your product because of the way that it tastes or the way that it does what it is supposed to do. Your consumer chooses your product because of the way that it makes them feel.
When you focus upon how and why your consumer feels the way that they do and how and why your brand evokes that feeling, you are starting to understand what really matters in this relationship.
When you understand your consumers’ relationship with your brand in this way you can focus your efforts upon the things that will nurture and build that relationship. Your brand positioning, your communications, your product development become the leavers that you are pulling to improve the way that you meet your consumers’ deeper emotional needs.
You are starting to build a stronger, more beautiful, longer lasting relationship.
Chris Lukehurst is a Consumer Psychologist and a Director at The Marketing Clinic:
Providing Clarity on the Psychological relationships between consumers and brands