TECHNOLOGY

Technology leaders tops most valuable U.S. brands study

BY Marianne Wilson

Five technology companies took the top five spots in a new ranking of the most valuable brands.

Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook topped BrandZ’s first-ever Top 100 Most Valuable U.S. Brands ranking, by WPP and Kantar Millward Brown.

The U.S. Top 100 brand value totaled $3.16 trillion, with the top 10 brands accounting for half of the total.  Overall, technology brands accounted for 19 of the U.S. Top 100 and $1.2 trillion, or more than one-third of the total value. The valuation behind the ranking was conducted by Kantar Millward Brown, which specializes in brand equity research and brand valuation.

Key take-aways from the BrandZ U.S. Top 100 study include:

• Meaningful difference always makes the difference: With a score of 187 (100 is the average), Apple delivers the most meaningful difference. But even in the challenging airline category, brands can deliver meaning. Southwest Airlines (number 74 at $8.1 billion), known for its quirky ads, its authentic social media engagement and its sponsorship that helps military veterans travel to war memorials, scored 149 on meaningful difference.

• U.S. consumers have high standards with regard to brands and data: The American consumer is one of the most sophisticated in the world and expects better service in exchange for the data they share. Consumers no longer accept being lumped into a gender/age bracket and will quickly disengage with brands that don’t show relevance.

• Going asset-light pays off heavily: Technology and services are transforming a traditionally product-first society into one where many brands are going “asset-light,” no longer owning the full value chain and sometimes not any part of it. Instead, they focus on brokering the final product, offering services or value in other ways to improve the customer experience.

• Brand experience makes or breaks brands: Americans place a high premium on time and show loyalty to brands that deliver a thoughtful, fulfilling brand experience. FedEx and Amazon rank first and second for brand experience as, often together, they offer selection, convenience and speed in the online shopping experience.

• Get out of the bubble: The American brand world can be highly insular, with marketers, agencies, and employees often sharing a narrow, largely urban worldview. For example, New Yorkers likely have more in common with Londoners than they have with Midwesterners. Marketers need to understand and connect with real consumers across their entire geography, or risk losing ground to more in-touch competitors. Occasionally this includes hearing uncomfortable truths, but that’s preferable to communicating without information.

• The Silicon Valley mindset continues to influence the U.S. and the world: American companies and workers are among the most innovative in the world, and show no signs of slowing down. The innovation demonstrated by the Top 100 brands is evident, while transformative businesses are challenging brands, companies and markets. From Airbnb to Uber, Lyft and WeWork, Americans are rethinking how they work, travel, engage and live.

The brands ranked all meet these eligibility criteria: They were originally created in the U.S., and the brand owned by a publicly traded enterprise, or its financials are published in the public domain. For telecom providers, the brand is owned by a U.S.-listed company and mainly operates in the U.S.

Click here to see the complete ranking.

keyboard_arrow_downCOMMENTS

Leave a Reply

No comments found

TRENDING STORIES

Polls

Are you hiring seasonal employees this year?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
TECHNOLOGY

Contextualizing Communication: Chat, Email, Voice Interactions

BY Adam Pressman

Retailers of all types are seeking new ways of communicating more directly with their customers in digital modes beyond email, including chatbots, marketing automation and email response management.  While these tools provide more scalable mechanisms to engage in near real-time than keeping hundreds of live reps on staff, they will never fully replace the need for live agent support. Creating the customer-employee contact journey, and ensuring that employees are armed with the right information and capacity to support, is critical to these new technologies’ success.

While they need to be able to interact across every channel, retailers’ real focus should be on understanding key interactions and use cases and how to best enable them. Interacting via chat or sending an email post-purchase with information on installation are two options, but what makes the retail journey most powerful is enabling communications to work together.

Linking Transactions to ContactTimeliness, scale, and costs are all driving this multichannel interactive trend. As e-commerce continues to grow, success now requires support of interactions outside of the store. Retailers need to think about the before, during and after of purchases and tailor their communications and interactions accordingly. Combining context and content creates a very powerful understanding of behavior and the ability to shape the interaction.

At a more tactical level, retailers that interact with “logged in” customers have a better chance of identifying them, and can then link together transactions and interactions to help them most effectively. We expect to see more and more retailers pushing existing customers to log in before contacting them—either via an app or online — so that they can have the best possible context to support them. Web and chat forms that capture the reason for a contact help route the interaction to the right agent based on skills and capacity.

Factoring in Consumer Attitudes  
Thinking of all communication as a two-way street, retailers strategically need to know what may be coming at them from the other side. I’ve noticed three main stages of acceptance in consumer expectations of personalization and communication in these new interactive modes:

1. Expected to execute. Consumers “expect” retailers to use the information they’ve already provided to support their needs.  If they’ve already ordered products, they expect the retailer to know it — they shouldn’t have to tell the retailer.

2. Supposed to solve. When issues arise, the retailer should proactively find ways to help the consumer.  If a shipment is delayed or a product is out of stock, the retailer should proactively let the consumer know and help her “solve” it before she knows she has a problem.

3. Right to recommend.  Once they build consumer trust in these other areas, retailers then earn the “right to recommend” new products/services that relate to customers’ past interactions — and they are allowed to be imperfect. Think of this stage as a best friend who may not always be right, but knows enough about you to recommend things that make sense.

Retailers definitely need to be mindful of the balance between helpful and annoying interactions — they should never push information on customers, but should continue to seek feedback from their customers, both digitally and in stores, to understand their satisfaction with the brand overall, and with communications in particular.

Email, Voice or Social Media? 
Each interactive communication mode—whether email, social media, voice or other — has its strengths. Email is still a valid tool, as long as retailers make the messaging relevant and timely. Retail service providers such as Narvar are rethinking the post-purchase experience, and in particular the order status email.

To achieve a compelling interface, it’s critical to not just look at traditional metrics such as open rate and click-through rate, but to really link the interaction back to purchase behavior and tie it to ultimate outcomes. Engagement and loyalty are not the same thing; understanding the differences is extremely important.
Some retailers create in-app or on-site content feeds that incorporate social media and user-generated content. I love retailers’ approach of offering compelling stories and thus creating emotional connections with customers, and allowing them to share with each other.

The key is to understand what role social media plays within their overall contact strategy — for example, while Instagram is great for storytelling and creating an emotional connection with customers, it’s not the best channel for resolving customer issues. Retailers that are able to get customers to help other customers and interact in a one-to-many manner will definitely get scale effects and advantages, including loyalty.

Voice-enabled commerce is not a one-size-fits all approach, and retailers will need to reach specific levels of understanding — for example, frequency and types of customer interactions — to determine what will work best for their customers and for them.

Technology giants Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft are all actively racing to be the platform of choice for voice. Additionally, artificial intelligence will continue to allow marketing and service communications to seem, and actually be, more tailored than ever before.

Retailers must continue to evolve how they communicate with their customers. Email is still a critical channel, but messaging, chat and voice-enabled interactions will all continue to rise. It’s imperative to have the tools and technology to capture and link interactions across channels — capabilities that are definitely improving.

It’s now easier than ever before to know if a customer has made contact via social, email, voice, or another channel. And knowing this, retailers can refine and contextualize their communications with customers, moving toward a “just right” level of understanding and building consumer trust.

Adam Pressman is a partner in the digital transformation and retail practices of A.T. Kearney, a global strategy and management consulting firm. He can be reached at [email protected].

keyboard_arrow_downCOMMENTS

Leave a Reply

No comments found

TRENDING STORIES

Polls

Are you hiring seasonal employees this year?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
TECHNOLOGY

Report: Discount giant raising some online prices

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Walmart is reportedly testing a new pricing strategy to drive customers into its stores.

The discount giant is reportedly boosting the prices on some of its online merchandise, with the increases are being applied to some food and household items, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Walmart has tripled its online assortments for the holiday season, and has also expanding its in-store assortment, for the holidays by adding more exclusive products and brands. The lower in-store prices is Walmart’s latest move to get shoppers back inside of the store. In addition to an in-store pickup option, the discounter, in April, announced a ship -to-store discount to shoppers that are willing to have out-of-stock merchandise shipped to a store for pickup, instead of their homes. It is also a move that enables the discounter to leverage its fleet of 4,700 stores — an advantage it has over its online rival, Amazon.

 

keyboard_arrow_downCOMMENTS

Leave a Reply

No comments found

TRENDING STORIES

Polls

Are you hiring seasonal employees this year?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...