Consumer in the driver’s seat: a better ride for brands

Today’s successful brands enable consumers to create their own brand experience. 

Consumers have come to expect brands to offer them an experience rather than merely products or services. They expect to take the lead in determining the roles that brands play in their (social) lives. Enabling consumers to have their own brand experience is becoming one of the strongest determinants of success in marketing. Apple’s iTunes or Nestlé’s Nespresso are examples of brands that deliver a great consumer experience. Another example is Nike+, which enables runners to get the most out of their sporting experience by sharing tracks, finding running mates, getting health advice, etc.

Several touch points to create consumer brand experiences

Designing great consumer-brand experiences requires an understanding how people interact with the organisation throughout the complete consumer decision cycle. There are many more touch points available to create consumer-brand experiences than we often realise. For example, at inbound call centres for after-sales service, customers could be given much more than answers to their questions or complaints. Agents could give information about what other customers have asked or what best practices were shared by other users. Similarly, agents could redirect callers to user-generated videos on YouTube or invite them to ”like” that brand on Facebook, where they will then be able to download the latest information or get product add-ons.

Several ways to create consumer brand experience

Another way to create more opportunities for consumer-brand interaction and to drive the overall brand experience is by embedding services in products (or vice versa). For example, in the healthcare industry new products for weight control are emerging that combine a physical product – low-calorie meal substitute – with an online service that allows users to register their daily weight and receive feedback on how they are progressing towards their optimal weight. Naturally such online services are then also accessible via a mobile app, and the information exchange becomes truly interactive; in other words, users of the product-service combination both give and receive input.

These call center and healthcare examples have one thing in common: the brand acts as a vehicle for consumers to maximise control in their lives and to fulfil their need to involve peers in their actions. Control is essential for people in today’s information society, which grows in complexity with every passing day. Brands that give control to consumers today will be the winners of tomorrow.