A customer’s decision in purchasing a product is vital when creating a sales strategy. One way that businesses have long tried to increase the amount of customers is by establishing a brand. A valued brand has been seen as a way to best separate a company from its many competitors.
In a recent report from Feefo, the idea of brand values highlighted the need for a company to set them out clearly to help strengthen their business. It found that brand values should be central to its marketing and that doing so could be a fundamental way to ensure repeat custom. Regardless of business type, when it communicates its brand successfully, Feefo’s research found that 61% of customers spend more money with those companies.
Vic Heyward, Brand Marketing and Communications Manager at Bright, suggests why being socially responsible is so important.
“Understanding what your brand truly stands for should be the motivation behind your core purpose, and brand values should authentically echo this. What’s the point in having a set of values you never live, or worse, never look at again?
“This newer focus on brand accountability for sustainable initiatives can feel daunting for some, especially if you’re not at the forefront of an environmental revolution. For brands like this, taking a step back to reflect on your brand purpose, code of ethics or CSR policy can be an enlightening experience and a way to further engage prospects and employees.”
The impact of negative reviews
Having a strong brand that is actively promoted is also about minimising fallout because making mistakes may hit sales. More than a quarter of people asked said if a favourite brand was embroiled in a scandal they would stop buying from them.
The report also underlined the importance of the online review to help uphold values. In fact, online reviews were found to be the top influencer for consumers when making a purchasing decision.
The influence of influencers
In an increasingly online world, we are all spending more time on social media platforms and this has given rise to the age of influencer marketing.
Such marketing was arguably once driven by the celebrity culture in the UK, where products could sell out in hours and crash websites if a celebrity was seen using a specific product from a company. The Kate Middleton effect is a prime example. For instance, after she was seen wearing a dress by Reiss, its website crashed due to such an increase in demand.
However, the report found that only 12% of consumers have a positive view of a brand that is endorsed by a celebrity they like. Jonathan Emmins, of Amplify, explains.
“It’s no surprise that the power of celebrity and influencer marketing has waned. Celebrity still has a role to play in marketing, in much the same way as bombarding audiences with advertising does. Both celebrities and advertising can help put a brand on the map and guarantee awareness. But we can’t automatically assume that being on the radar in this way translates into influence, affinity or propensity-to-purchase.
“The mask has dropped on ‘influencers’ as consumers are astute and can see whether the relationship between influencer and brand is authentic, deep and adds value to their lives.”
However, he goes on to maintain that companies can still harness the power of influencers who can still have a much more targeted reach than traditional forms of advertising. He argues that this is far more effective.
“Many brands are stepping away or using celebrity and instead [are] moving towards campaigns that work with real and more relatable talent; people who share the brand’s values, passions or interests. This gives brands authenticity and permission to play in the focus area, audience or sector. Plus, there’s an added benefit here: collaborations and co-creation campaigns with emerging talent don’t carry the same hefty price tag as top-tier celebrity advertising. This helps brands create a larger volume of more interesting, engaging and entertaining content which can be targeted at pockets of audience, rather than a one-size-fits-all strategy. Lots of ‘small’ quickly ladders up to a whole lot of big.”
Ways to strengthen brand values
So how else can companies strengthen brand values, both small businesses and large conglomerates alike?
John Galpin, Co-Founder of Design by Structure, suggests that understanding brand perception is as crucial as the brand values themselves.
“Companies own the brand, but their customers live and breathe them, they give them life in their world.
“Customer perception is based on the customers’ own experiences of a brand, how it aligns with their own beliefs and values, their interaction with it at every touchpoint, from the awareness, through to purchase-decision to having it in their home.
“Brands don’t hold the reins completely. Consumers hold power in their ability to vote with their feet. If they don’t like what a brand does, represents or aligns with (influencers/ambassadors) they simply won’t purchase, or more importantly repeat purchase — that’s real power.”
His assertion that customers will go elsewhere if a brand does not uphold certain beliefs is vital to understand. Plus, it’s backed up with key findings from Feefo’s report. It shows the following significant factors which consumers use to help determine their final purchasing decision are:
- Brands being passionate about the products or services they sell (34%)
- Sustainability ethics (33%)
- Transparency (33%)
This means that customers are more likely to purchase from a brand that offers them a choice. If they do not, they will show their ‘ability to vote’ by buying from someone who does. Brands need to therefore provide consumers with options to make more responsible choices – like aiming for locally produced goods as opposed to imported.
Achieving repeat custom through a strong brand
Understanding consumer psychology and why they end up making a final purchase with a brand is a key way to help garner repeat custom – particularly online. With the impact of coronavirus forcing more people to shop online, even older generations are digital target audiences. Feefo’s report highlights that such marketing is far more effective when true brand values reflect a company that customers respect.