Monday, January 4, 2016

Brands need excitement

Today’s consumers are a fickle, promiscuous lot. That’s why brands must constantly keep 
them engaged

Monday the 28th of December could have been yet another boring beginning to the week but Uber Bangalore brought cheer to the residents of Bangalore with their Uber Puppies program. It was a fairly simple program on the face of it but it did involve enormous logistics. Uber had opened a window between 12 and 3 PM on Monday when people could call the company and the company would send puppies for 15 minutes to cuddle. It was a great move as it went viral on social media with excited riders sharing their experiences and images on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

There was also a social objective as the initiative might eventually result in people actually adopting stray puppies at a later date as they got a preview of what bringing up a puppy might mean if they actually went ahead. Uber had tied up with ‘Voice of Stray Dogs’ (VoSD) for this. Often some incident sparks something in your own memory and strikes a chord with you and I had a similar déjà vu moment. All my life I have grown up with dogs, lived with them and loved them till I got married. As my wife couldn’t handle dogs, I lived without a dog for several years and got a dog as a back door entry through my second son. (You might call it emotional blackmail which seems very common in marriages). Today; however several years later my wife is the biggest dog lover in the family. Who knows how many families will benefit from Uber Puppies day? But there is no doubt that the brand is benefitting as it has from other initiatives like the chopper ride and the luxury car rides it had organised recently, which brings me to the crux of what I am attempting to write. Consumers are a fickle lot, particularly younger ones who are constantly looking for excitement. Youngsters seem to get tired of their girlfriends quite easily so where does that leave brands? So young brands like Uber succeed because they keep upping the excitement quotient. It is probably because of the many things that they keep doing that they are rated the most disruptive brand in the world. See link

The slimmest watch in the world
Doing disruptive, innovative things is not only the prerogative of new age companies like Uber but older, well established brick and mortar companies as well. My mind goes back to 2002 and Titan Industries, another company that I admire enormously. Titan was going through a slight trough then and nothing was happening after a great and momentous start. In a sense the brand was in an emotional low if you can call it that and then the company did something truly disruptive. They came up with a watch which was the slimmest watch in the world. It was an astonishing piece of engineering and the advertising simply stated the powerful proposition in a manner that was distinctive. Watch the commercial about the watch which made waves. This was a breakthrough in more ways than one as the company suddenly rediscovered its lost steam and made the market sit up and take notice. There was another interesting side effect of this game changing strategy as well as its employees too realised their own enormous potential and the things they could do to change the entire category.

So where’s your next excitement?
Today’s consumers are a spoilt, promiscuous lot. They are not even loyal to their spouses so brands are a poor second. Brands have to do things dramatically different and often so that consumers remember and value them. Brands like Uber keep doing things frequently. They keep raising the consumer connect bar constantly surprising their consumers and their competitors as well. Many other brands do different things as well but sadly they do things too far apart and keep talking about the one innovation they made in 1942. So the question to be asked is, “When did you last do something exciting for your brand that left your consumer saying “wow”?” When was your consumer’s last wow moment with the brand?

Excitement can be hard work
Whether it is a Titan or Uber, we can read about it and maybe even feel good about it for a short while. But when it comes to your own brand it is not so easy because your competition too is trying to do different things about its brand. Sadly it’s a winner take all world in brands. If you are to be the winner, you must be paranoid not only about your brand but about your consumer as well. Keep observing them, discover hidden unspoken, unmet needs and work towards satisfying them.
Who knows what you might become tomorrow?

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