It is a common misunderstanding that in brand and retail, one size will fit all, but careful attention has to be paid to the needs of your customers and business on the ground so that your offering can be fine tuned to deliver. Performance branding and retail is all about maximising your return on investment without compromising on consistency.
Last week I was in Jordan, apart from being an extremely diverse country, with complex demographics, it is a great example of a country where high performance branding can be configured to deliver amazing growth.
Like many markets in the developing world, there are huge variations in customer need, there are rich areas that require a sophisticated, best in class service and there are poorer areas, where the needs of the people are very different. Take mobile phone usage, in the wealthier parts of Jordan, smart phone penetration sits at close to 200% - where most individuals have at least two cell-phones yet, in the refugee camps on the boarder with Syria, smart phone penetration is very low, sitting at 18%. Other statistics point towards huge variations in need.
Before making customer facing investment decisions, companies have to truly understand customer behaviour and there are three tools that brand builders can use to do this. One academic, one practical and one creative:
Study the data - get specific
Understand how and what is making your customers tick. What is encouraging them to buy and what services they are using. Get as granular as you can. Then consider - ‘am I happy with the status quo and what options are open to me to migrate these customers upwards through cross selling or promotional activities?’
A practical example:
Recently, I was asked to review a brands web presence - they sell products and services on-line. The first question I ask is ‘Who are your customers?’. The usual answer I get is ‘everyone’. This is a nonsense answer. Very few businesses can count ‘everyone’ as a customer. Get to know who your customers are and be prepared to give an intelligent answer to this question.
The second question I ask is ‘show me your usage statistics - what are people actually doing on your web site?’ More often that not, we find that web sites are cluttered with information that is simply not being looked at... my solution to this - either prioritise it so that customers are going on the journey you want them to and looking at the things you want them to look at, or get rid of the clutter.
The third question I ask is ‘what are you doing to learn from, educate and sell to your customers online?’ Often the answer I get is ‘we have a web site - they will find our stuff’. This is a nonsense. By following the simple principal of ‘learn from, educate and sell’, it is possible to configure your retail environment - be it on-line or off-line to be a high performance tool.
Get out of your office and get to know your customers
Data will only tell you one story. It is critical that you get out amongst your customers. In the online world, this could be through a video advisor. In the off-line world, this means going to your outlets, speaking to customers and watching how they behave in your space.
Now you are armed with all the information you need to deliver a high performance brand and retail space where one size will not fit all... it is time to get creative.
Never forget that your brand is all about consistency - consistency in language, service, communication and experience. However, you will never meet a brand builder that will tell you not be creative in how your brand experience is applied - to the extent that it is meaningful and relevant to each and every customer, regardless of their demographic. As a brand builder, you have to understand what defines the core of your brand experience and within that, you must be creative. Adapt service offerings, adapt retail layouts and product offerings, adapt communication material and methods, adapt the staff you employ - all to appeal to your micro-markets - but be careful to never stray too far from who you are. Audit your approach regularly and try to centralise the big decisions.