The connected world of today is different. In this age of multiple screens (switching to the phone while watching TV!), literally communicating through screens (Mail, Messenger, Snapchat, WhatsApp) and celebrating happiness within communities (Facebook, Instagram, etc.), Emotional Connections are vital to build brand affinity. The new-normal mantra for millennials demand how marketers effectively monitor, manage, and control their emotions, which also include what they think and how they act in relation to those emotions. How well a person can assess external factors, such as situations and relationships, can also determine a measurement of their emotional quotient.
Here's what's happening!
Banking on Design - A major bank introduced a credit card for millennials that was designed to inspire emotional connection; use among the segment increased by 70% and new account growth rose by 40%.
Dressed to Appeal - When a nationwide apparel retailer reoriented its merchandising and customer experience to its most emotionally connected customer segments, same-store sales growth accelerated more than threefold.
Cementing with Bonds - Unlike cities, a majority of people in small towns build their own houses. In this case, the purchase decision for a certain brand of cement will, in all probability, be influenced by the emotion used in the advertising - humour or strengthening of family bonds. Emotion is just the right way to go in such low-involvement categories.
As one prominent brand guru (whom I absolutely adore!) states, "Ninety-nine per cent of decisions in life are not rational. Besides, liking something is an emotional statement anyway. So, one needs to make the communication for any product or service work towards establishing a connection with the audience."
However, the way to build and maintain a successful intimate brand varies. Disney and Samsung are both highly ranked intimate brands. Disney is #1 in its industry, and Samsung #2. But both show different strengths and associations. Disney's most significant strength is its association with the archetype nostalgia, which is the lowest associated archetype for Samsung. Conversely, enhancement is most dominant for Samsung and the lowest score for Disney.
Time for "escapist brands"?
Disney now ranks 2nd, up from its 6th place position in the past. Netflix's rankings moved from the 25th place to 5th place. Nintendo now ranks 6th (earlier is ranked 12th). Xbox is in 12th place, having moved up 2 positions. HBO moved up to 21st position from 84th. Even top brands like Apple, (#1 rank), provides content offerings and an opportunity to connect with others, Amazon (#3) provides countless ways to seek out new information and purchases of all kinds, and Harley-Davidson (#4) offers escape on the road, freedom and solitary time.
Intimate brands based on emotion, outperform leading financial indices
There is a relationship between intimacy and price resilience. On an average, 21% of users are willing to pay 20% more for a brand's products and services. By comparison, consumers are most intimate with Amazon, 30% of them are willing to pay a premium for the brand. If this is true, then CMOs better start recalibrating their strategies.
Gender and Age provide layers in the emotional connect of brands
For example, Apple cuts across both genders. However, in an entertainment brand, women selected Disney, while men favoured gaming brand Nintendo. Also, men picked Harley-Davidson as their #2 intimate brand, while women selected Amazon as their #3. In age-wise demographics, Apple and Amazon are both listed across all ages, from millennials to older adults. Netflix is only listed by those in the 18-34 age bracket, Target by those in the 35-44 age group and Harley-Davidson and Whole Foods by those in the 45-64 age group, showcasing some specific preferences by age.
Technology for Affinity
We see technology and telecommunication brands dominating the top list, mirroring the important role they play in our daily lives. This presents a strong opportunity for brands that are used on a daily basis to build strong bonds with us. For those who live the philosophy of the connected world and associated consumer behaviour, we see that the new revolution is being powered by intelligent symphony of solutions designing "experiences". While there are technologies and platforms aplenty, only those who can create and sustain world class experiences will thrive.
In every walk of life, "emotional experiences" will drive and disrupt industries like never before.
(The author is the senior vice-president and global head - Brand, Field Marketing and Marketing & Communications at Tech Mahindra)