I’m often asked rhetorically why brands need to go digital? And, I often answer in the most non-rhetorical way: Why shouldn’t brands go digital? Everything related with consumers is encompassed with a digital layer now and brands are coerced to review their digital touch-points in the wake of this disruption. Although digital does not have a novelty element in its vein to offer, yet the most challenging aspect of the brands that have been successful in the past using a traditional system is the divide between an eCommerce vs a brick-and-mortar retail model and the supposed cause of a dilution in their brand equity should they plan to go online.
This is a classic conundrum faced especially by luxury brands that have predominantly been late adopters and are still eschewing large-scale digitisation and the weight of its implications.
Brands are facing other challenges as just having a digital strategy isn’t enough anymore as their efforts seem akin to blindly throwing darts at a board missing the target and not producing the desired results. This is my tuppence-worth observation.
The imminent challenge is maintaining a price parity in online and asset-light models in comparison to offline store formats. Brands have carefully orchestrated higher prices for their craft justifying customer experience and the grandeur they offer in physical stores as a key driver in increasing prices every year, ensuring their products will continue to be perceived as valuable over time. Brands can no longer have different pricing structures for multiple geographies as online makes way for seamless pricing structures since social media channels are also leading to increased sensitivity in consumer mindset globally. Consumers are a lot aware of price sensitivity because they can share online reviews and make deep-dive comparisons via user-generated-content and analytics that make it all possible with a click of a button. As also is the capability to reach out to consumers through multiple channels (omnichannel) and the turn around time to make their products available as soon as they are launched become deciding factors of the tenacity to survive for a brand.
Brands are finding themselves at digital crossroads, at the intersection of e-commerce, technology, and brick-and-mortar retail and are looking to integrate these aspects for an added perspective to an enhanced customer experience in digital, mobile, and retail environments.
Take for instance Amazon Books and its newly opened brick-and-mortar store in Seattle that will have (Yes! REAL) books in addition to Amazon devices in a very Apple-like store format using their digital prowess to seamlessly integrate with the physical world.
Brands are now truly immersive, interactive by way of my experience of seeing the craftsmanship of the products and hence spectacular and relevant to a consumer’s emotional need in their own way going an extra mile redefining consumer-brand ethos.
Given the enormous opportunity, motivators offer to create a genuine value and enhanced customer loyalty, brands are pursuing a connection with consumers and taking it a to a whole new emotional level. Belle, Quel beau initiative!
While brands are using digital marketing campaigns to economise and increase profitability, they are also very wary of knowing the customer in and out and in a more individualistic and personalised narrative as opposed to having a generic overview of the consumer. The idea is to be more authentic and not reflecting the dichotomy focusing on “WHY” the customer should invest in their craft and enterprise and not on the “HOW MUCH”.
Facebook has been supporting equality and inclusion via a rainbow filter for profile pictures. Similar initiatives to spread awareness victims of Paris massacre. Other socially responsible brands are contributing their support during natural disasters and helping in the areas such as education, women safety and offering work opportunities for marginalised sections of the society, supporting movements and causes from Movember to Good health.
Eco-consciousness and going pro-planet are other areas where leading brands are continually raising the bar in supporting the Sustainability cause. Heart Panda Public Art Exhibition and the Big Bang Panda timepiece from Hublot using art to raise awareness and funds for the protection of pandas in China is a perfect example of brands and social responsibility. Image: HUBLOT
In the past, Levi’s® introduced Levi’s® Waste<Less™ jeans, a new denim collection made of post-consumer waste, specifically 8 plastic bottles per pair of jeans. As part of the Waste<Less™ initiative, Levi’s® brand, together with Coca-Cola and musician and producer, Will.I.Am, announced a new partnership through Ekocycle, a global initiative designed to educate consumers about everyday recycling choices and change the way consumers think about and treat waste.
I remember seeing pink-coloured strawberry flavoured SMINT on shelves earlier this month and was delighted that the mint brand was promoting Breast Cancer Awareness donating to this worthy cause from the sale of each pack.
info: smint.com, Image: fandbnews
YOOX.COM announced ESTETHICA SUSTAINABILITY AWARDS recognising the efforts of emerging Asian eco-fashion talents. The collection can be viewed on the Yoox website.
Swedish fast-fashion giant Hennes & Mauritz has led several CSR collaborations, more noteworthy than their designer collaborations such as #HMBalmaination. H&M‘s Fashion Against Aids or the most recent ‘Close the Loop‘ encouraging consumers to recycle their unwanted garments and leading by example announcing the Global Change Award (Image credit below), which recognises the innovative ideas that protect the earth’s resources within the fashion supply chain bears testimony to the brand’s CSR-driven agenda.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs are a way brands are reimagining and realigning brand longevity fusing business with philanthropy showing what they stand for to their consumers.
Where the brand fails to capitalise on the emotional connect, the consumer can shift loyalties in a matter of principle. Take, for instance, the VW emissions scandal and the subsequent efforts by the brand to rescue their reputation. Brands that manipulate and act in a way so that only the part which is instrumental to their own progression finds its way up the consumer are most likely to fail.
On the contrary, Brands that connect emotionally with consumers are also the most passionate about being honest – deriving from creativity and practical experience and with a different kind of grit for community service and social development to fulfil moral and ethical responsibilities and giving back to the consumer and to the society as a whole.
There is a new paradigm shift to go back to the roots and basics to reconnect with a value-driven price-sensitive and highly evolved consumer of today.
Credits: CSR Image on the main menu:businessnewsdaily