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Sharpen your brand: How brands can build a direct consumer connect

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Marketing | February 27, 2009
Synovate India organised a conference to help brands develop strategies to connect to the consumer

Synovate India, the market research arm of the Aegis Group, held a conference called "Sharpen your Brand" at ITC, Mumbai. The conference was about developing brand strategies that connect with the consumers. Jan Hofmeyr, global director of innovation, Synovate was the speaker for the day.

He started the session by saying that most of the methods used to measure brand effectiveness were developed in the 1980s and the 1990s. After 2000, a lot of modern methods have been developed that are still to be used on a large scale.

& #BANNER1 & #He said, "With advances in neuropsychology and non-linear mathematics, we are able to dig much deeper into how consumers' minds react to communication and how it can create associations with a product and things that are important to them."

Hofmeyr gave an example of a very modern technique that was used by Coca-Cola to determine how certain parts of the brain can make emotional connections with a brand. People who participated in this research were given Coca-Cola (the name was not revealed to them) to drink. As they tasted the beverage, there was a brain scan going on. Certain parts of the brain were highlighted when the subjects tasted the drink, because the taste was familiar. Then, the brand name was revealed to the subject and he was asked to drink it again. This time around, the beverage was associated with other emotions, such as friendship, happiness and friendship, and hence, the subject could emotionally connect to the brand.

Hofmeyr said that strong brand connections are built by giving the consumer a direct experience of the brand, such as an in-store experience. A brand can also be advocated through incidental experiences, such as word of mouth and blogs, and through planned communication, such as television and events.

Hofmeyr feels that consumers take time to build such connections with brands. He cited the example of Marlboro cigarettes, which originally targeted women smokers. In due course, the company realised that the market share was stagnant and decided to revamp the positioning. And thus, the Marlboro Man was born. He added that the brand took close to 18 years to become the market leader, and was able to succeed because it used the same positioning for the entire duration. Hence, consumers were able to connect to the brand.

He also shared the results of a Synovate study, which measures the loss of sales for a brand on parameters such as availability, affordability, product mix, promotions and other factors. For example, for the quick service restaurant category (such as Mc Donald's), there is around 75 per cent loss of sales due to lack of availability of certain items on the menu. The alcohol category loses out on 48 per cent of their sales due to the lack of availability of products as well.

Mick Gordon, managing director, Synovate India shared some information about Synovate's latest invention called NANO, which streamlines and integrates several core solutions of branding, customer experience and shopper capabilities, such as shopper survey and communications tracker. The aim of NANO is to address the increased demand for providing more for less to clients facing reduced budgets.