The role of brands in the frontline of consumerism is changing as consumers are looking for ownership and customisation. Understanding how people use your brand is paramount to steer the direction of your brand’s development and the level of engagement with your consumers.
Over the past few years, marketers have focused on delivering promotions, price cuts and additional value for consumers more than anything. This approach has been necessary to a large extent but much of it has also been done at the expense of brand building. Consumers are now more aware of how their actions can impact on brands’ development, and with social media platforms empowering people to actively talk about their life experiences, companies are required to be more authentic in their marketing approach.
A study by Insites Consulting highlights that ‘over 50% of consumers are asking to take part in co-creation of products and advertising’. Some brands are willingly embracing this opportunity, encouraging the creative expression of consumers to add more value to their campaigns and build stronger brand connections.
Heineken have recently adopted the co-creation trend by inviting consumers to design their bottle of the future to mark the brand’s upcoming 140th anniversary. Users could submit their work to an online gallery on Heineken’s Facebook page, and pair up to another participant to complement their designs. The winning team will see their bottle go into production for a limited edition gift pack in celebration of Heineken’s anniversary in December 2012.
By opening up new communication channels with consumers and producing thought provoking campaigns, brands can get beneficial feedback from consumers and give them a more positive image of their brand and marketing strategy. However, it is important for brands to think about what consumers are looking for in terms of experience and then how their message fits within that. If you start with the message and then build the whole campaign around that, you’ll often find that you are not actually engaging with your consumers in the correct way.
The experience of co-creation
Consumers want to ensure they are getting the necessities from your brand; they want to tell their own stories and be involved in an experience, which will make them feel they have some kind of advantage by getting involved with your brand. Many big brands have been using crowdsourcing to connect with consumers, developing contests through social media campaigns and encouraging them to create designs and unique labels to their products.
Heinz Get Well Soup is other great example of social integration inviting Facebook fans to personalise a soup can with the ‘Get Well’ message and send as a gift to their friends. Similarly, Coca Cola’s Vitamin Water successfully used a flavour creator lab on its Facebook page, asking their fans to vote for their favourite flavour and design a new label for the product. 40,000 Facebook users created unique label designs via the lab and participants spent an average of 7 minutes engaging with the application and therefore the brand.
Social media is a great channel that brands can use to make the co-creation process to work effectively. Using the social sphere to entice consumers to embrace the idea with easy access and transparency will only add more value to the entire experience, and consumers will be more likely to welcome the initiative and engage with your brand. Additionally, by exploiting the creative side of consumers, brands are giving people that consume their products a say in their development and campaign, which ultimately help them to differentiate themselves from competition.
A fantastic experiential example is Slurpee’s ‘Bring Your Own Cup Day’. The brand decided to embrace consumers inner-opportunistic side to promote their frozen drinks range. For a 24 hour period, customers could take any vessel they could get their hands on to fill with Slurpee products. Excited Slurpee fanatics across Australia ventured to their nearest 7-Eleven stores armed with kettles, watering cans and boots to name a few ‘cups’ used, with a new drink being sold every 1.8 seconds.
Ultimately, the key for marketers is to use those magical touchpoints that already exist in people’s interactions with brands and create great experiences around that. Consumers don’t experience the advertising, they experience the brand and this is where experiential takes place. When knowing how people are using brands, and embracing their creative side, you can reap the rewards of consumer’s preference by creating remarkable brand experiences that stand out, deeply engage and generate the involvement that your consumers want with your brand.
How are you ensuring you are listening to what your consumers want? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Tweet us @Hotcow!
Hotcow is a multi-award winning brand engagement agency specialising in experiential marketing. Our mission is simple: to help brands understand the power of “experience-based marketing” and offer expertise in how to develop, plan and execute campaigns in the right way to get the right results.