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AdAsia 2011: 'Gene pull' - a key to creating trust factor amongst consumers

By Anushree Bhattacharyya , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | November 03, 2011
The last session of AdAsia on Day Two saw panellists discuss how brands are losing the trust of consumers, and what brands need to do in order to retain customers' faith.

What does the word 'Trust' mean for a brand? Surprisingly, a lot! In fact, often, it also turns out to be a matter of 'life and death' as the mere existence of a brand depends on how much it is trusted by its customers. The last session on Day Two of AdAsia 2011 was titled 'Building brands in a trust deficit world'; the session saw panellists discuss how brands are fast losing the trust of consumers, and what they need to do to retain the faith of their customers.

The speakers for the session included Robin Wight, president, Engine and WCRS, Vikram Sakhuja, chief executive officer, GroupM South Asia, Michael Boneham, president and managing director, Ford India, and Sandeep Ghosh, chief executive officer, Bharti AXA Life Insurance. It was moderated by Deepa Prahalad, author and business strategist.

Starting the session, Wight said, "It is a common perception that brands exist in order to make businesses rich. However, as per biological reasoning, it is said that brands exist to make buying decision of consumers less complicated. We tend to pass on our gene in terms of advice from friends and community. Also, the more a brand is trusted, the less is the effort made by the brain when it comes to making a purchase decision."

He further elaborated that while earlier it was about social gathering and discussion, where the customer would talk about a brand, today, it has been taken forward to the web - a platform created by the human brain to help make a buying decision. He added, "Brands have to focus on something called peer-to-peer marketing strategy. For example, on an average, a Facebook user has about 150 friends. She can share ideas with and seek advice from all of them - so brands need to adopt this strategy now."

Ghosh gave the example of Bharti AXA Life Insurance's positioning, 'Jeevan Suraksha ka Nayaa Nazariya', and how the brand changed the perception of consumers about an insurance brand, as people are often uncomfortable answering certain questions.

He elaborated, "Consumer insights revealed that consumers want financial services companies to move beyond the 'land of promises' to the 'land of proves'. They want finance companies to be able to demonstrate trust. Hence, we through our positioning, highlighted our proposition of easy paybacks and coverage of all critical illnesses, unlike many others who would leave a loophole to say no easily to a service."

Meanwhile, Boneham of Ford India emphasised that in order to gain the trust of consumers, brands need to understand their needs and evolve continuously. He gave the example of Ford India, and how the automotive company changed its strategy to get back to business.

He said, "We adopted the four-pillar strategy. The first pillar is the 'One Ford' concept, according to which we decided to launch one model of a car across regions (global product) rather than launch customised cars for each region. Next, we paid attention to design by spending a lot of time with consumers and understanding their needs. Also, we moved away from celebrity brand ambassadors and got real-life consumers to promote our products.

"We launched campaigns like Smart Drive during the launch of Figo and the Fiesta Experience, wherein we recorded real-life experiences of driving a Ford car. Lastly, we paid attention to technology as per the need of the consumer, and added features like Bluetooth."

Sakhuja of GroupM spoke about the fact that while the customer has not completely lost her commitment towards the brand. "It is pertinent that the brands move beyond the pricing and distribution strategy and create a connect with consumers. That is the reason digital tools are built for relevant engagement," he said.

In the end, the panel stressed on the fact that brands need to be humble in their approach and constantly engage with consumers to understand their ever-evolving requirements.

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