In a mature-developed regulated economy, the MOST critical aspect of brand building will always be marked by Consumer TRUST and credibility of Brand claims. Regulatory bodies and Consumer watchdogs play a huge role in policing and reporting malpractices and misleading claims.
However, in emerging markets, despite regulations, it is more difficult to authenticate credibility of claims. Therefore, Consumer “Trust” is built either by celebrity endorsements, international credibility or a long history of consistent performance. (You just have to visit India to see the role of celebrity endorsements!) That does make establishing credibility of new, local brands very challenging – and many marketers rely totally on driving awareness via mostly a mix of TV media and celebrity endorsements – if possible supported by mobile/social media marketing.
In emerging markets, it matters less on what you CAN say about your brand – what matters more is that the people remember your brand name (and you are well distributed and available.) Brand teams are not pushed (by environment or regulatory pressures) to help a regular consumer understand unique benefits of the products and brands. This is also partly driven by a direct correlation of brand advertising vis-à-vis its stage of product life cycle – since most categories are still in growth phase, what brand campaigns really emphasize are basic category benefits and not unique brand values.
It is difficult for consumers to authenticate product performance and quality claims. Also driven by the rapidly changing market situations – and in hope to stay top-of-mind versus more established brands – marketers are forced to frequently change their brand messages – hoping that something NEW would stick! Hence, what matters more is RECALL of the claims, rather than true belief in them. So what you stated in January of 2013 about your products maybe very different from what you say about it a year later – which is obviously never a good thing for brand development.
It really boils down to pricing strategy to create consumer-brand relationship and relevance. And hence you see a lot of dependence on Price Point to create a semblance of a sustained relationship.
Note as mentioned previously, all of this is really a discussion about new, local brand struggling to establish themselves. Admittedly this is not such a huge challenge for International Brands imported in by MNCs – you bring a Starbucks or Dove to India, your job is far less tedious and way more glamorous.
Does our Talent Rewards system create stronger Brands?
One can say, if all marketing books preach the same thing why do young Marketers struggle to do what is right? I believe one primary reason is how Organizations use them and reward them. Most young marketers believe that their career progress is hinged on launching noise-worthy Ad campaigns. Their KPIs include short term metrics such as month-to-month brand awareness, quarterly growth, ad recall, social media buzz – instead of metrics that drive Brand Health such as loyalty/share of requirement, household penetration, sustained sales performance or an improving CDI. But organizations and senior managers do not realize, that by using these misdirected KPIs, that they are actually hurting their talent’s development as well as the long term health of their organization.
So how does all this misplaced reward system impact the Marketers’ effort:
THE 6-STEPS CHECKLIST FOR BRAND BUILDERS
In a short checklist I have stated a 6-Steps approach to Brand Building – very relevant and an imperative for new brands – particularly in emerging markets. This checklist is simply a reinforcement of what most marketers are taught about building branding in schools and should always be part of the essential toolkit:
Always start with identifying your current and potential consumers based on their lifestyles and psychographics. Demographics are a small subset of the complete consumer profile.
In the long-term it is easier to create consumer loyalty with a steady message and quality rather than creating a unique/original mind-blowing campaign every few quarters.
Brands play a HUGE role in making our lives better, safer and happier. The Consumer bottom-line is always very human and basic … Brand-Consumer relationship is just like any relationship – there is no “single moment of truth” – it takes many years and many moments of consistent behaviour to establish what is true and what builds trust – and there is NO shortcut to it!