Staying ahead of the game is always the name of the game in the world of brands. If you want to succeed you need to be at the forefront, the leader of the pack, ahead of the curve (anymore clichés anyone?).
From the playground to the boardroom, the latest trend often becomes the greatest. We have seen the 80s brand boldness, where it was about being big and being brilliant - Coke, Nike, Sony- they all personified being the best, being materially successful, being in charge. Then came the Noughties and with it thriftiness, being savvy - shopping at Top Shop, the rise of Aldi and Lidl. Followed by the ethical generation - H&M Conscious, People Tree, Ecover - the list is endless.
So where do we go now? How do brands compete and what will be the latest trend to set you apart from the crowd?
Well, in our opinion, it’s going to swing back to People, to customers.
Recent research supports this move with 60% of consumers quoting as having higher expectations of customer experience than they did a year ago (Parature) and by 2017, 50% of consumer product investments will be redirected to customer experience innovations..
We are entering a brand space where differentiation is hard. The days of personally manufacturing goods are pretty much gone, outside of cottage industries. Technology has changed the way we work to such a point that for the majority of product production, robots really can do our job, and better.
So, what’s left? It’s customer service, it’s human contact.
Our local row of shops is testament to this change. A decade ago when we first moved into the area, there was a butcher, a chemist, a baker, a grocer. We now how three hairdressers and four cafes. Why? Because they are about human interaction, about meeting and greeting.
So brands need to think on their feet, and fast. They need to think about how their brand, their product or service, can personalise and bring their customer to the heart of what they do. So this could mean for fashion retailers personal shoppers as the norm, maybe pick your outfits for the month with your virtual assistant online and go in store to try and buy. Or for butchers it is about creating meal plans for the family for the week and delivering your meat box, or working with the local grocer to provide the veg for your daily meal box. To survive brands need to go one step further, to not only think like their customers, but to think ahead of their customers.
They need to stop believing that outbound message with a name attached will do when it comes to a personalised approach, but think about what really would make a difference to their customers. They need to offer a solution rather than just display their wares and hope it resonates with the target audience.
We feel it’s exciting times for brands. Those who think differently, who are not reined in by the change coming will find themselves redefining how they do things. It will be these brands that take us into the roaring 20s and beyond.