In today’s globalized economy, competition is getting more and more aggressive. That means it becomes more difficult for products and services to differentiate themselves from other offerings than ever before.
Product differences are narrowing ever faster and many companies try to win the customer’s attention with price reductions. As a result, products and services appear to be commodities. While at the same time, the customer behavior becomes more diverse. On one hand, consumers are increasingly price sensitive — searching for bargains in marketplaces like online sites, which offer apparent discounts. On the other hand, consumers like their brands and the services they promise. In travel, that very same person may plan a weekend trip with a low-fare airline and a stay at a five-star-hotel. It shows that consumers now have a wider choice of often less distinguishable products. Consumers are much better informed, hence having greater buying power.
Our Question: How then do we live up to brand value and customer expectation in such an environment?
Using travel as an example, technology and customer expectation are closely linked. Customers are mobile and always connected. They now have more control over their travel experience. They can download their boarding passes to their smartphones. They are continuously updated on their flight details with times and gates information. All this through seamless connectivity, be it in their car, train or airport. It means reduced stress levels.
Today, we see consumers purchase online before travel. They then simply picking up the package at the airport, either when departing or arriving. The flip side of this is that a passenger may actually spend less time in airport retailers — as he/she may choose instead to spend more time sipping a coffee and searching the internet on their mobiles.
Our Question: How then do we seamlessly manage the mobile, always-connected traveler in terms of delivering on your brand promise?
Another advantage provided by smartphones is social media. Smartphones are an increasingly popular tool for branding and communications. They are a lot more than a tool for “showcasing or telling”. They are an even more powerful as a tool for “listening”.
Our Question: How critical a role that social media play in building your brand value?
Customer loyalty programs provide can insights for ascertaining and meeting customer expectations. Traditionally the customer profile have been the domain of marketing. Customer profiles have moved beyond any standard categorization. We are starting to see profiling of customers based on mindsets, such as level of sophistication and indifference. This in turn results in identification of the customer’s “need states” — i.e. need for speed, experience, value, et al.
Today, a key parameter in increasing and sustaining brand value is “innovation” — be it technological, process, etc.
Our Question. What are some the key features/aspects of “innovation” that we can hope to see in support of your brand?
Note: our intent of theis article is to inspire discussion on the topic of what a customer’s view of the brand is, and what steps companies may need to take to their brand value and customers’ expectations are met.