The Experience Age: What Does It Mean for Your Brand?

Ally Feiam By Ally Feiam | 16 Aug 2019

Welcome to the Experience Age: where customer experience is just as important (if not more) than a competitive price.

Whether it’s online or in-store, a customer wants to feel like they’ve been listened to, their issues are addressed, and they’ve come out of their shopping trip with what they wanted. In a new study from Qualitrics, it’s now harder than ever for a company to keep the CX right while maintaining a trustworthy brand.

In today’s landscape, technology has shaped the customer in ways that brands have never seen before. The study found that the attention span of the average person is now eight seconds, four seconds shorter than it was 15 years ago. Although this means we, as a species, are evolving and processing information faster than ever before, it also means that brands have to fight tooth and nail to get their voices heard. “On any given day, a consumer is exposed to anywhere
between 4,000 and 10,000 brand messages,” the study explained.

So, What Does This Mean?

According to this study, customers spend (on average) seven seconds thinking about a brand before they make their decision – this is why companies need to re-evaluate its brand in this evolving age that we live in. When a company uses branding that universally recognised, such as an identifiable logo or catchphrase, the customer’s brain will automatically distinguish it from the others.

“Say you’re faced with 15 cans of cola on a supermarket shelf, your brain will process them in a fraction of a second, narrowing it down to one or two whose brands you recognise from brand assets like the logo or colour of the can. Memory then kicks in, using the experiences you’ve had in the past with those brands to make the final choice. We rely on recognition, memories, familiarity, and perceptions of certain brands to lead and in many cases drive our consideration set,” the study explained.

Exposing the consumer to ads, whether they be on social media, billboards, public transport, etc., will saturate the customer’s brain with branding. Over time, the customer’s brain will remember the company name, its ad, and what it’s selling. From there, a brand is born. Although this can be obvious to retail professionals, it can be easy to forget the importance of market saturation.

Tying in CX to a Brand

Creating a brand experience is the hardest part of the retail challenge. Not only does the brand have to sell a lifestyle behind the product – i.e. Coca Cola makes life look fun and full of happiness, so when the customer buys it, they expect to feel that happiness they saw in the ad. “The world’s most successful brands are essentially cognitive time-savers. They work hard to deliver on-brand experiences that drive recognition, create familiarity and firmly plant perceptions in their customer’s minds so the next time they need to make a decision, it all happens in an instant,” the study said.

So, How can a Brand Break Through?

Considering we’re living in an already over-saturated market, it can be hard for a lesser-known brand to stand out. Consider stripping down a brand’s image and getting back to basics by following these four steps:

  1. Find a Purpose
    A product should fill a customer’s needs in some way. Whether it’s a beverage, a piece of furniture or item of clothing, the product has to fulfil the consumer’s requirements. Customers won’t buy something that they don’t feel they need or want.
  2. Maintain Consistency
    Delivering on a persistent campaign is one thing, but creating an experience that the customer expects and delivering on it is an entirely different game. If a brand promises fantastic results, aim to deliver on them. If the product fails, deliver on consistently excellent customer service. A brand’s products are only as good as the service the brand provides.
  3. It Pays to be Different
    Some of the biggest brands on the planet stand out for a reason: their branding is different. Nike’s swoosh, McDonald’s Golden Arches and Gucci’s double G are a few examples of brands who have a recognisable logo that’s used around the world. Grabbing the customer’s attention is a crucial tool to help them remember your brand over the others, even if you sell the same products.
  4. Resonate with Customers
    It’s one thing to stick in a customer’s brain, but it’s quite another thing for the customer to relate to the product. When establishing a brand, it’s important to remember that people will want to buy the product because they feel like they can use it in their everyday life. Using celebrity endorsements can link the lifestyle that customers want with the product a brand is selling.

The times we live in aren’t slowing down for anyone. The brands that were once huge in the world have been seized by the likes of Facebook, Apple and Amazon. According to the research, in the past 15 years, 52 per cent of Fortune 500 companies have disappeared. “They’ve fallen victim to a competitive landscape where disruption is fast becoming the norm and failing to respond quickly can cost even the most established brands dearly,” the study found.

Keeping your finger on the pulse and recognising how a customer’s habits are changing is the best way to maintain relevancy in today’s Experience Age. When a shark stops swimming, they die – this is a tactic that brands need to remember to stay afloat.

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