Saturday, July 2, 2011

Emotional Branding: Way to the Heart of Next Gen Consumers

Over the past two decades, it has become resoundingly obvious that the world is moving from an industrially driven economy where machines are the heroes toward a people driven economy that puts the consumer on the hot seat. Airplanes are less about transportation vehicles these days, but more about travel organizations that enhances our lives in many ways through their elaborate bonus – point programs. Food is no longer about cooking or chores but about home or lifestyle design and most important sensory experiences. The universities are branded and more or less function as modular knowledge banks focusing on a new kind of flexible, global learning that caters to students all around the globe, both off and on campus, with differing backgrounds and agendas rather than the traditional structured UG and PG programs. To be relevant and to survive, it becomes important that the marketers understand the vast changes afoot and compete differently. Value proposition is changing. Speed has replaced stability; intangible assets have become more valuable than tangible assets. The traditional supply / demand economic models are being completely reevaluated. Corporations have realized that the new market opportunities are based on growing new lines of revenue with innovative ideas. Creativity is overtaking capital as the principal elixir of expansion. In this hypercompetitive marketplace, ideas are a new currency altogether, much more powerful than money. Goods or services alone are no longer enough to attract a new market or even maintain existing clients. It is the emotional element of products and their distribution systems that brings in the key difference between consumers’ final choice and the price they pay. Now when we say emotional, it means how a brand engages consumers on the level of senses and emotions; how a brand is created for people and forges a deeper, lasting connection. Cadbury's Temptations or the Surf Excel’s Daag Acche Hai uses emotional appeal in its TV commercial. Pepsi, another product in the sensory category, uses the feeling of belongingness through reference group appeals. In India, Coke too uses group appeals, which generally involve `groups and activities appealing to the target segment.

Hence, corporations must take definite steps towards building stronger connections and relationships which recognize their customers as partners. Today industry need to bring people the products they desire, exactly when they want them, through venues that are both inspiring and intimately responsive to their needs… well this is the world of emotional branding.... It is a dynamic cocktail of anthropology, imagination, sensory experiences and visionary approach to change. Bernard Arnault of LVMH, the hugely successful luxury group that own Dior, Vuitton and countless prestigious brands, lives by this credo. Given this emotionally driven paradigm, is it fair to say that consumers are thinking more with their heart or gut than with their head when choosing a product? Or that the public wants to be assured of a company’s unequivocal commitment to them? May be yes in both the assumptions. The largely unexplored territory of emotions – including how people feel about corporate world at large is an increasingly crucial part of the buying routine at a time when most products offer the same quality and are in danger of becoming mere commodities in an overcrowded market space.