Brand engagement is treated as the holy grail for marketers. Marketers sometimes operate as if consumers are just waiting around to have a relationship with their brand.
This cartoon was partly inspired by a story Jimmy Fallon shared in an NPR interview:
“I bought a pack of gum, and the receipt, I’m not kidding, was over a foot long. It might have been two-feet long of receipt paper, and I’m walking, and you could hear it. You could hear me as I’m walking around the store with this receipt. I go: I bought a pack of gum. This is insane. You’re killing the rainforest for my Orbits. And it was just the most insane thing ever. I go, come on. And there was like coupons on the back. I go: This has just reached a level of insanity.”
Marketers often forget that consumers aren’t into our brands with the same level of the enthusiasm that we are. Whether it’s the frequency brands share in social media or the number of loyalty emails brands send to “advocates,” marketers need to balance our activities with a real understanding of the role that brands play in consumers’ lives.
I stumbled across HBR article from 2012 on the “Three Myths About What Customers Want.” It features a CEB research study questioning whether most consumers want to have a relationship with your brand:
“Actually, they don’t Only 23% of the consumers in our study said they have a relationship with a brand. In the typical consumer’s view of the world, relationships are reserved for friends, family and colleagues. That’s why, when you ask the 77% of consumers who don’t have relationships with brands to explain why, you get comments like “It’s just a brand, not a member of my family…
“Stop bombarding consumers who don’t want a relationship with your attempts to build one through endless emails or complex loyalty programs.”
The study goes on to debunk myths that “Interactions build relationships” and “the more interaction the better.”
Sometimes a pack of gum is just a pack of gum. I’d love to hear your thoughts on brand engagement.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed cartoon print. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)
Here’s another cartoon I drew on this topic:
10 CommentsJoin the Discussion
I work in the brand solutions team in a major events team in India. The problem with engagement with brands in India is they want their BRAND NAME/LOGO to be seen in everything they do, pretty much believing in “Jo Dikhta Hai, Woh Bikta Hai” (vague translation: the more you see, the more you sell). We try to tell these grandfather-generation brands that it does not work with the current generation of 18-25, having personally told a Brand Manager of my age that our music festival-going audience will promptly reject their brand, but they refuse to understand. Strangely, even classy international brands turn non-subtle in India! I guess “Crying baby gets milk first” works in our loud, in-your-face nation.
As a result, most of our media properties are filled with brand names. Eg. Nokia presents Tuborg Coachella powered by Quiksilver. Not only does it look ridiculous but a lot of media evaluation is done basis Logo exposures with engagement being a bonus.
I think my country is still behind the US by many years and I see the engagement advent coming soon. And trust me, I prefer engagement hungry brands just because, perhaps, some will try to provide some value to the consumers. We have a music & arts property whose digital presence educates our followers on a whole lot of emerging artists from over the world. We have great engagement scores for something no brand really cares about 🙂
Not sure if I contributed to the “relationship” discussion here, but I’d love to know how brands operate in other countries!
Nathan Hirst says
I love this article/cartoon. I have always felt that if you want to engage with a large portion of your customers you have to give them something extremely useful (i.e. not just coupons). Unless you are able to do this, just focus on your small love group. Nurturing that little love group is a great way to get brand engagement without making the rest of your customers avoid you.
Chet Frame says
Brand loyalty works in some markets and not in others. Frequent flyer programs work well for the airlines and, as a frequent flyer, I always check my preferred carriers first when I make my travel plans. Hotel loyalty programs have some advantages, but I want a hotel close to my destination and I can always join their program if I don’t belong already. I own Apple products and diss Microsoft, not that I save any money, but I like my istuff. Beyond that, brand loyalty is ephemeral, and the money spent trying to convince me that it is important is wasted.
“Sometimes a pack of gum is just a pack of gum.”
I repeat something very similar on a daily basis. People really need to be reminded of what the consumer experience is like when they are buying something very small.
Unfortunately, that’s not only a problem of marketers but also of store executives. Just why do we need to scan a loyalty card at every store in order to do little convenience purchases? Because they want every bit of data and want to force you into giving them that data. They forget that each time that happens they are ridiculed in homes, on social media, and at restaurants because people are always complaining about their stores. When alternatives arise, they jump right away.
Here in Chicagoland, Jewel-Osco is suffering the fate of this. Their loyalty card was a requirement before, now its “MyMixx”. As newer competitors are opening like Aldi, Marianos, Pete’s Fresh Market, Caputos, and Fresh Thyme are taking away Jewel customers by allowing customers the dignity of buying a pack of gum without having to have an app or loyalty card and without a milelong receipt.
David Hensley says
Too many brands wanting to be loved, trying to engage consumers who, in the main, just want to consume them.
“Do you Consumer choose this gum brand to be your partner in life, to support and respect her in her successes and as well her failures, to care for her in sickness and in health, to nurture her, and to grow with her throughout the seasons of your life together?”
Nooooooooooooooooooo!!!!! I have just come for a pack of gum….
Ben Baker says
The Level of Engagement depends on the level of complexity of the sale and the product or service. Yes, it is just gum. Orbitz would love it if it was the only gum on the market, but it is not. Either you like the taste or you pick up something else at the counter from the 50 different choices you have in front of you.
That client is looking to make a purchase and move on.
Engagement comes from having something that people need to understand before they commit. They need to engage to alleviate their concerns and be certain that the choice they are making is the right one for them. Those are the clients that need to be engaged with.
Understand your brand, your audience and your value and then decide you are trying to sell a product or engage and audience to move them along the selling cycle.
Ashley C says
I agree with Ben B. As marketers, we need to do the consumer justice by understanding what our brand’s value is to their life before understanding whether or not a loyalty program makes sense. Marketers need to get out behind their desks and SurveyMonkey and talk to folks who are fully engaged in the brand, those who are somewhat engaged and non-loyalists and hear them talk about the brand. And then find the program that works for them. I’m fortunate enough to work on a brand in which we’ve heard consumers say time and time again that this brand has saved their marriages (I’m not kidding); that this product IS a part of their family (and yes, I work in CPG and am sold in traditional channels). Consumers have been asking us for stronger loyalty programs and we are finding out the right one for us at this time.
Yet I understand that not all brands/products are like this. Folks should use this to better understand their consumer – who he/she is – and then have a very straightforward conversation with themselves, team mates and agencies to understand brand equity measures – where they are today and where it is going tomorrow. From there, chose the appropriate “P in the 4-P Model, because the “Promotion” P just might not be the right lever to pull…at this time.
Hi, I work for a branding organization in India, WindowSquare. Since I am from the fraternity of Branding and digital marketing the first cartoon drew my attention that envisioned me of the near future where brands might loose its customers because of their over-engagement.
Dawn E. Carter says
Thank you for this dose of reality in the epic Battle for Customer Engagement. As a 20+ year Marketing industry wonk, I squirm at how you capture our ridiculousness in your Marketoons.