MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Top five brand experience trends for 2014

BY Dan Berthiaume

Boston – The top five brand experience trends for 2014 include retail relevancy and “small data,” according to brand experience agency Jack Morton. The company predicts the following five trends will prove dominant in brand experience during the upcoming year.

1. Relevant Retail: Last year there was a lot of talk about showrooming and other presumably negative consumer behaviors that were seriously troubling to retailers. This year, the brands that are growing are the ones that embrace consumer needs, for example promoting their in-store experience as mobile-friendly. According to research released by Jack Morton in 2013, consumers are looking for differentiated retail experiences, but less than half (46%) think retail brands are doing enough to stand out.

2. The Rise of the CXO: A big opportunity for brands is elevating brand experience within the organizational structure. Jack Morton advises clients to appoint someone to champion excellence in brand experience, whether they’re called a Chief Experience Officer or a Chief Customer Officer, their role is to centralize and lead experience. Elevating experience represents a growth opportunity for brands: according to research by Jack Morton, nine-out-of-10 consumers worldwide say that they choose brands on the basis of experience; six-out-of-10 say they’ll pay more for a brand that offers a better experience.

3. User Experience Writ Large: The user experience trend is reflective of the higher standards that consumers have for brands: almost six-in-10 (57%) consumers surveyed worldwide say they hold brands today to a higher standard, according to agency research conducted in 2013.

4. Owned Media Strategies for Content Marketing: In 2014 brands will invest in owned media strategies that give consumers experiences that create intrigue, fuel conversations and foster engagement. Research indicates that experience fuels consumer word of mouth, still one of the most trusted ways people learn about brands and products.

5. Big Data Gets Small: In 2014, the big opportunity for brands is using information to enhance customer experience, to ‘get small’ with big data. Also relevant are consumers’ shifting allegiances to and behaviors on social platforms, from the growth of Twitter to the decreased value of a "like" evident in 2013 agency research.

"As marketers continue to respond to increasingly empowered customers, a laser focus on brand experience trends is vital to success. We hear all the time from clients that one of their biggest challenges is staying on top of what really matters, separating out signal from noise,” said Josh McCall, chairman and CEO of Jack Morton. “At Jack Morton, we think that the trends that matter have a few things in common: they’re about elevating brand experience thinking, they’re about integrating experience with new technologies and media channels, and they’re about experience fuelling business results, especially at retail."

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REAL ESTATE

West Elm opens U.K. store Dec. 5

BY Dan Berthiaume

San Francisco – West Elm is scheduled to open the company’s first U.K. store in London on Dec. 5. The 12,000-sq.-ft. store will feature furniture, textiles, accessories and gifts, as well as a West Elm Market shop-in-shop and coffee shop. The store will employ 30 full- and part-time sales associates.

The London store will include a Local Gallery Wall featuring art from U.K. artists sourced through Etsy, the online marketplace for handmade or vintage items. The wall is curated by Will Taylor of the blog Bright.Bazaar.

"The city of London has such vibrant communities centered around design and innovation. I couldn’t think of a better location for our first West Elm store in Europe," said Jim Brett, president of West Elm. "We are confident the broad assortment, globally-inspired aesthetic and engaging in-store experience of West Elm will appeal to customers in the U.K."

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Survey: Birthday greetings build customer loyalty

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – Companies seeking to get closer to their customers simply need to remember and acknowledge their birthdays. A new online survey conducted by analytics and marketing technology provider Fulcrum finds that nearly three-out-of-four (74%) consumers who received birthday messages from a company they do business with thought more positively of the company afterward.

Eighty-eight percent of those positive reactions translated to increased brand loyalty. Consumers responded most positively to birthday greetings from food and beverage retailers, such as Baskin Robbins, Ruby Tuesdays or Starbucks. Ninety-two percent of consumers receiving greetings from such food and beverage establishments thought more positively about the sending company, and 96% reported an increase in loyalty.

While nearly all birthday greetings received favorable consumer responses, those which included discounts positively influenced the greatest number of survey respondents. Greetings that included some type of discount or gift were 24% more effective in positively impacting consumer opinion than simple birthday greetings (87% and 70%, respectively).

Age played a decisive role in how birthday greetings impacted brand loyalty. Consumers between the ages of 25 and 34 were far more likely to report increased loyalty, at 92%, compared to those ages 55 and up among whom just 73% reported increased loyalty. Income level and gender played significantly smaller roles in differentiating consumer responses.

"While marketers who recognize their customers’ birthdays assume the message creates an even stronger relationship with them, our consumer research confirms the positive influence on both the brand’s image and future sales to that customer," said Tara Piazza, senior VP, Fulcrum. "Firms deploying campaigns to celebrate their customers’ birthdays tighten consumer relationships while also creating the opportunity to market additional products and services."

The online survey was conducted earlier this year based on interviews with 500 consumers.

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