Despite the billions of dollars brands spend each year in advertising, nearly half of global consumers agree that if a brand doesn’t live up to the image it promotes through its marketing, they can no longer trust it. But there’s good news: Brands that deliver experiences that live up to their promises reap big returns according to our Experience Brand Index.
At Jack Morton, we believe in the power of brand experience, but we were curious about what consumers thought. So we fielded a global Experience Brand Index study in late Spring 2018, surveying 6,000 consumers in the US, UK and China.
Brands must balance promises with proof of delivery
We learned consumers care more about and buy more from brands that deliver proof on the promises they make. And brands that ranked as Experience Brand Leaders are more likely to boast higher recommend-ability and loyalty rates.
Learn the five lessons in brand promise and proof
To help you deliver the best consumer experience for your brand, we’ve broken down what we learned in greater detail. Fill out the form below to receive the full report!
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Watch the Webinar
We recently partnered with AdAge on an informative webinar that covers some of the key points of the EBI and also takes a look at some the brands that we feel deliver a superior brand experience. Have a look at the video, or read through the webinar transcript below, to get more insights from the team that conducted the research.
Good morning. The topic of today’s webcast is, consumers tell us what makes a great experience brand. I’m Christopher Hosford with the Ad Age team and I’m your moderator today. I’d like to introduce our speakers for today. Ben Grossman is senior VP group strategy director at Jack Morton Worldwide and Joe Panepinto is senior vp and strategy director also at Jack Morton Worldwide. Ben, I believe you’re up first so take it away.
Hi everyone. Thanks so much for joining our webinar today. We’re really excited to share with you the results of a significant research undertaking that we’ve taken at Jack over the course of the past year to think about how people experience brands, how important those experiences are to them, and where marketers should be focusing in terms of their brand experience. In today’s webinar we’re planning on covering a number of topics that you see here. We’ll talk a little bit about the methodology behind the research, definitions that we use throughout the research, five lessons that we think brand owners can take away to understand how to create experience brands that compete and today’s landscape, and then finally an experience brand self-assessment that can help you think about whether your organization operates with experience brand principles and there’s area for improvement for you and your brand. So as Chris said my name is Ben Grossman I’m the senior vice president group strategy director overseeing strategy across the Northeast and Joe is my partner in crime and was the principal investigator for this research and I’ll let him say hello as well.
Hi everyone. Great to have an opportunity to talk to you about the research we’ve been doing and it was great to have an opportunity to work together with brand marketing team overall on the methodology, the content, the data analysis for this experience index.
So before we dive into the details of the methodology it’s worth asking, why does this matter? The experience brand index in its inaugural year had an amazing finding that for us really drove an appreciation for how important it is to reframe how we look at and value brands going forward. The first major finding coming out of our research is that experience brands – those that lead in terms of brand experience – have a 200 percent higher Net Promoter Score than their competitors and experience brands boast 25 percent higher customer loyalty. For any brand owner it’s obvious that having a high NPS, a high likelihood to recommend that brand, and also a high likelihood to stay with that brand, are key arbiters of brand value. Understanding the brand’s proof – the proof that they deliver on their brand promises is actually a better indicator of both Net Promoter Score and loyalty than brand promise itself than people’s bond with the idea of a brand was a key finding here and something that you’ll see carried throughout this research as a major revelation. So we’ll talk you through a little bit of how we got to these findings in terms of our methodology.
Great, thanks Ben. So the methodology that we used was not to set out and simply create another list of brands but instead to unveil how people feel about the relationships that they have with brands that they interact with on a regular basis. We based the results on a survey that we conducted with 6,000 consumers across all demographics in three key geographies: the United States, United Kingdom and China. We polled them about a dozen facets of their experiences with and their perceptions of more than a hundred brands in ten industries and across six proofpoints. We’re going to talk about the definition of proofpoint in a second but what’s key for us is that we ask them to rate their difference aspects of their experiences with specific lands and in the end we built in index that ranked those brands from 1 to 100 based on how well they deliver proof of the promises that they make in the marketplace. So before we get into the results I’d like to make sure that we’ve clarified a couple of key definitions. The first is experience brand. From our perspective, an experience brand is a product, a service or an organization that creates desire and demand through its actions. And we believe that the best brands – those that deserve the label experience brand – deliver proof against their promises. Put very simply, an experience brand successfully delivers proof of what it is that the brand promises. The next definition is a brand experience. And a brand experiences is an action, or what the brand does. It’s the proof that you use to compare against the promises it makes. So in today’s age of omni-channel marketing, we see proof is the sum total of all the notable actions and interactions that brands use to connect with consumers, including employee service, web and mobile, social content, online and in-store shopping, and events and experiences. Obviously what it includes as well is the experience that consumers have with the product or the service itself.
Now Chris, I think you have a poll question for the audience? We do indeed and thanks so much I’m going to push this to the audience. Do you know what your brand promise is? And I’m going to suggest to everyone about what Joe and Ben have mentioned… that the proof is what the brand promises. So the question is, do know what your brand promise is? Yes, no or unsure. Now we don’t have to wait too long for your answers to roll in; this is a pretty straightforward question. So I think we have most all of our answers in so I’m going to push it to results. Do you know what your brand promise is? 52% yes, 18% no and a pretty chunk is unsure. Ben, Joe, what do you make of that? Very interesting results. They are interesting results and it’s something that we see frequently. Though it sounds so obvious to know what your brand promise is, oftentimes we get so caught up in the weeds that we start to lose sight of what the central vision is for the brand and what consumers really expect of our brand. And without a clear vision of what our promise is, it can be hard then to deliver proof that’s meaningful to people notable. So what we thought we would do next if it’s good with you Chris, is walk through some examples of brand promises and then the proof that they deliver on an ongoing basis. Sound good?
Sounds great. Great. So in terms of some examples of brand promises it’s helpful to look at a few major examples. T-Mobile’s obviously a famous brand and they on an ongoing basis promise to disrupt the wireless category by being the uncarrier. In other words, being the opposite of everything you’d expect of a mobile carrier that’s major and in the market place. And that brand promise and the proof they’ve delivered on it has helped them go from relatively obscure mobile carrier to one of the top mobile carriers now poised to merge with Sprint. As you can see here the brand promise is that they are going to be the uncarrier; the opposite of what you would expect of a wireless carrier. They deliver proof on that on an ongoing basis. Some examples that we’ve been part of at Jack that we’re very proud of are things like disrupting the entire carrier by the removal of service contracts saying we’re going to break you free out of those two year contracts. Um, delivering music freedom – the ability to listen to as much music as you want to, unlimited and without concern of what it will do to your data rate. The idea of binge on which was something that we launched with T-Mobile to help people be able to watch all the video entertainment on platforms like Netflix that they want without it counting against their data rate. And then finally T-Mobile Tuesdays – this idea that being loyal to T-Mobile is something that you would choose to do not because you’re locked into a two year contract anymore; they undid that with uncarrier move number one. But instead, that every Tuesday you get an amazing reward from a brand they’ve aligned with. The example here you’re seeing that when T-Mobile Tuesday they gave away a pizza with Domino’s, another one they gave away a frosty with Wendy’s. And it’s simply a way the T-Mobile thanks its customers which is something that is very uncarrier; not what you’d be expecting from a typical mobile carrier.
Another brand that we get to work with at Jack Morton, that we love, is Charmin. And while it may seem unlikely that we and many consumers love a toilet-paper brand, they also have a really clear brand promise: enjoy the go. We all know that we all do go, so Charmin’s question is why not enjoy it? And they’ve delivered brand proof in a variety of different ways over the years including the sit or squat bathroom finder app that helps you navigate clean bathrooms, the flush- o-meter to understand toilet paper preferences around the world. At Jack we were proud to launch the Van-go on-demand mobile bathroom that helped you enjoy the go even on the streets of New York. And also the Charmin restrooms in Times Square over the holiday timeframe – a way to make sure that holiday shoppers in the midst of Times Square had a clean and enjoyable place to, enjoy the go.
JetBlue is another brand that has a great brand promise to bring humanity back to air travel. They deliver brand proof on that promise through things like the fly it forward sweepstakes, to reach across the aisle election video, fly babies video that humanized mothers and babies who fly together, and they’ve actually started selling kitschy office souvenirs for workaholics who never take vacation. But all of these fun and playful ways for them to become part of the social fabric of our country and landscape by bringing humanity back to air travel.
And then finally another Jack client L.L.Bean has a clear brand promise of being made for the shared love of the outdoors. And L.L.Bean delivers on this promise on an ongoing basis through a number of different ways that have proved it. One is a campaign that we worked on earlier this year called, Be an Outsider at Work. This was a movement that encouraged people to realize that humans spend 95% of their time indoors and 50% of that time indoors at a desk, and employs the question, would we be better workers if we did it outside? The answer was a resounding, yes. L.L.Bean has also proven their brand promise through a number of other actions including having a flagship store that’s open 24/7, 365 that allows you to camp for free at any time of year. A cross country bootmobile tour where they take their iconic bean boot and put it on the road, and then finally hosting flannel flag football on college campuses across the country. Again always to prove their brand promise of being made for the shared joy the outdoors.
So hopefully by now you understand what brands promises are and then how they’re delivering proof. Joe’s going to talk to you a little bit about exactly why brand proof matters and why it’s important to have those two things clearly identified for your brand.
Thanks Ben. At this point we’re going to walk through five key lessons that the research has indicated for us and for the brands that are listening today. Some of the examples that Ben walked through: T-Mobile, Charmin, JetBlue and L.L.Bean, have a clear promise and powerful proof and that’s very important because the research – one of the key findings from the research – is that brand proof matters. According to the research it’s a stronger indicator of brand health than brand promises. So what you see here is that consumers care about how brands behave in the world. They see the importance of their actions going well beyond how they interact with their consumer base. And we asked whether consumers cared about how brands behave toward customers, employees and their communities. And as you can see across all geographies more than three-quarters of consumers agreed with the fact that it was important how brands behave toward customers, employees, and their communities. In China, in fact, more than 8 out of 10 consumers agree and so what does that mean to your business? And Ben mentioned this a little bit earlier. All of this is important only as it applies for your business outcomes. So we found significant evidence that experience brands deliver on two critical measures of brand success: word of mouth recommendations and loyalty. Experience brands – those that we’ve defined as consistently delivering proof on their promises – yielded a 200% higher Net Promoter Score and a 25% higher loyalty score. That matters to your bottom line. So the 200% higher Net Promoter Score translates to a much more likely recommendation from consumers, to friends, families and other consumers.
At this point, Chris, we have our second poll question. And we sure do, Joe. And you know, would like to gauge the audience’s view this time about budget. And here’s the question we’d like to pose the attendees: does your brand have a budget dedicated to delivering brand proof on your promise? You know I really thought that the issue of proof versus promise was extremely interesting. So here it is – does your brand have a budget dedicated delivering brand proof on your promise? And the selections are, choose one: yes I know what it is; yes but we don’t think of it that way; yes it’s fragmented, perhaps among various divisions; no we plan to; no it’s not planned. Does your brand have a budget dedicated to delivering brand proof on your promise? Now while we’re waiting for your answers to roll in, remember you can submit any questions to either or both of our panelists, Joe or Ben, and we’ll address them during the Q&A period at the end of the webcast. Might think we’ve, I think we’ve got all our answers that have come in so we’ve got, no oh no it’s not planned, although the fragmented element against 27%. Joe, Ben what are your thoughts about budget dedicated to brand proof? We will talk more about this at the end but there are a number of different questions that you can ask within your organization to get folks more aligned whether the budget exists today and is organized or not.
Brand integrity is also delicate from another perspective which is that when people feel like you’re not delivering proof on your promise they start to think that the brand has a bad intention. That the brand wants you to believe something that it’s not. And what we saw interestingly was that the most skeptical generation by far was the millennial generation. And that one out of three global respondents saw over-promising is simply what brands do. And again, I think the key takeaway here is that yes brand integrity is delicate and that means you should be doing the right thing because you don’t want to lose out on loyalty, but also brand integrity being so delicate across the board and with kind of just this acceptance that over-promising is what brands do, it’s also a big opportunity for brands to differentiate and standout from the competitive landscape. It’s a way, in other words, for your brand to get ahead if your brand is that ultra-trusted brand within the category. And so the bottom line is that consumers really want brands they know and love to treat them well and they’re unforgiving when a brand doesn’t keep its promises. So we’ll take you through the next lesson, lesson 3.
Great, thanks Ben. So when we think about – actually looking back at the results of the polls –when you think about the fact that many organizations you don’t know or don’t have a consistent definition with what the brand promises the budgets are fragmented, what that’s going to result in is a fragmented effort across the board. But what’s critical is to have a consistent experience across all touchpoints and so the research suggested to us that we should look at touchpoints as being more important than simply that. But look at every interaction as a proofpoint – as an opportunity to prove your promise. So we’re often asked, what’s the most important experience to deliver on? And the answer really is, all of them. In this omni-channel world where every interaction is a chance to deliver against your promise, the most successful experience brand in each category have one thing in common: they typically deliver consistently across all of the interactions that you see listed on the right-hand side of the slide with the consumers and they’re acting with consumers on a one-on-one basis, but also in the marketing they’re advertising. So the third definition that I’d like to share with you is proofpoint. So from our perspective, the proofpoint is an action or an interaction facilitated by a brand to deliver on its expected promises and it’s a critical part of a holistic brand experience because the most successful brands – as you see some of the examples that Ben walked through, JetBlue and Charmin, T-Mobile and L.L.Bean, they’re rethinking their touchpoints as proofpoints. As opportunities to deliver tangible proof on the brand prop. So while we said at the top of the webinar that we’re not going to make a list and simply prepare a list and not provide any guidance, we think it’s important to recognize some brands that are standout in particular areas. So what this chart shows is across the different proofpoints that we measured: employee interaction, in-store experience, web and mobile, online shopping, social content, and events and experiences that the brand sponsors, across the geographies there’s a wide range of brands that deliver proof against their promise. I’d call your attention in particular to three: Royal Caribbean, which stands out not just in a couple of different geographies but also across a couple of different proofpoints; IKEA, again recognizing that they stand out in a couple of major geographies; and Amazon, recognizing that Amazon delivers against the web and mobile and online shopping experience in the US, the online shopping experience in the UK. So another thing that brands – that the best experience brands do – is to make it emotional and not just functional. At Jack Morton we’ve long believed that the best experiences – that extraordinary experiences – are simple, moving and original. And we would use all of these guideposts in order to create experiences for brands across their touchpoint now. So at this point, Chris, we have another poll question.
We do, Joe, thanks so much. You know we’d like to ask attendees about, do you believe you deliver proof on the promises your brand makes? Now as Joe mentioned it’s wide-ranging – it’s employees, it’s in-store, web and mobile, online experiences – it’s pervasive. Delivering what’s expected. So the question is, do you believe you deliver proof on the promises your brand makes? Always, frequently, infrequently, or never. Again, a pretty straightforward question and I’ll give you just a few moments. I see the responses are dwindling. Now let’s see how we did. Do you believe you deliver proof on the promises your brand makes? Well, frequently is good: 57 percent, but then a good chunk is a third, infrequently. Joe, Ben what do you make of this?
Sure, this is consistent with the findings that we have and Ben’s going to walk you through how brands overall scored on the Experience Brand Index. It’s a challenge, as we saw, from defining what your brand promise is to aligning all of the efforts across multiple touchpoints and proofpoints within your organization, then putting the budget and the effort against it in order to drive the right outcome. So it’s not surprising to see that many brands are having a challenge on delivering proof against the promise because there’s many areas where we can go wrong whether it’s on the definitional side – so we’re not really sure what that promise is – or that everyone that interacts with the public or actually interacts with the product or the service knows what our promise is. Or whether we’re delivering against the proof that we have, which again, when you look at that range of proofpoints, everything from a customer service interaction to a product interaction to an experience that we sponsored, you have a really big challenge on your hand. And so what we hope is that some of the insights that we’re providing here will help you to align your organization to drive that 58, 59 percent up into the sixties and seventies.
So Joe makes a great point, which is that it can’t just be a sometimes they’re frequently delivering brand proof on brand promises but it really has to go to an all the time place in order to get that 200 percent lift in NPS and 25 percent increase in loyalty. And that’s really the distance that most brands do need to go from a place where delivering proof on promises is somewhat casual today, to something where it’s a habit and a commitment tomorrow. And we actually gave consumers the chance to tell us how brands are doing in terms of that consistency. And what was interesting is that customers see most brands doing equally poor when it comes to experience. The overall score of 69% in terms of quality of brand proof on promise – scoring a D if you gave it a letter grade. And what we too see is that it’s easy for there to be a gap between what brand owners think they’re delivering to consumers, and how consumers actually receive those brands. In one study, 80% of brand owner executives say that they delivered superior experience and just 8% of their consumers actually agreed with that. True to that research, brand promises fall short on delivery quite frequently. About 50% of consumers globally actually agreed that brands rarely live up to their promises which is astounding when you think about it. 50% of consumers feel that brands rarely live up to their promises. And in China 60% felt that brands generally fall short of their expectations on an ongoing basis. And then also problematically, one in four consumers generally said that the brands that they interact with deliver experiences that are significantly better than their competitors. So what that’s saying in inverse is that 75% of friends are not successfully differentiating themselves from their competitive set through the experiences they deliver and risk blending into the landscape. But there’s good news in all of this which is that that an opportunity for those certainly on the webinar today and for brand owners going forward. Because brands that score high with our index overall were nearly two times as likely to deliver what consumers see is a superior brand experience. So the key for brand owners to unlock is right there. And when they do, there’s great reward to it as well. We all know that word of mouth is the most potent form of advertising today and has been for a long time. And nearly two times as likely being deemed worth talking about is the product of that superior brand experience as well. So for brands that can go above and beyond the overall D rating that consumers give brands in delivering proof on their promises, there’s big upside on the other side of it. The other thing that we did was took a look at which proofpoints tended to be a most potent in really delivering on those promises in terms of proofpoints. And what we saw were some interesting geographic divides across the US, UK and China where we surveyed consumers. And what we saw for instance in the US and UK is that consumers really, really value employee experience so that’s the experience they might have with a sales representative, with some kind of brand ambassador and a customer service center, etc. Most of the industry – the eight out of ten in the US and UK – had employee experience as a top driver of overall score. Interestingly in places like China, however, employee experiences were just a proofpoint driver for two out of ten of the top industries: retail banks and travel. Obviously less of a human focus for Chinese consumers than in the US and UK where expectations are a bit different. We also saw that web and mobile experiences are important to every country we surveyed: the US, UK and China. That web and mobile experience as proof of the brand promise ranked as a top driver for eight out of ten industries in the US and UK, six out of the ten in top industries in China. And then finally, interestingly, social content – that kind of digital proof – has the highest impact in China. What we saw is that social content is actually a top proofpoint for nine out of the ten industries that we surveyed in China. So hopefully we prepared this chart that actually takes a look at each of the six proof points that we surveyed across and helped to prioritize them a bit for each country and for each category. So a great way to read this chart is first identifying where in the world you are, which market you’re most similar to. So say I’m in the United States, I would start with that column and then if I’m in the travel industry I can see here that employees are extremely important, web and mobile are extremely important, and events and experiences are important in a place to invest. So these are essentially the top proofpoint drivers by country and industry for all ten of the industries that we covered across all three of the geographies that we looked at. And as a starting point you’re thinking, where can I be more consistent? These are the high-impact places to look for the industries that we surveyed across.
Joe’s going to take you through lesson five, our fifth and final one in the world of proof and promise.
Great, thanks Ben. So one of the key things that we found is that brand proof is only going to get more important. The question is whether what we found is a moment in time that we pass; is a fad, or whether it’s something that brands need to recognize today in order to optimize themselves for delivering tomorrow. And what we took a look at across the board on the data was… we compared the scores by gender, we compared experience brand scores by income, by family composition; we took a look at many of the demographics to see where the strongest patterns were. And what we recognized was the changing generational tides are actually incredibly important and should be a new focus for brand owners. Brand proof is only going to get more important as you recognize that the consumer base around the world – it’s just getting more diverse. It’s more global; we have different demographic swings – most importantly for us, the rise of Millennials and Gen Z. When we looked at the data and the experience brand scores across the different generations, we recognize that Millennials care more about how brands behave but they’re more skeptical than previous generations. So you see in the chart at the right, 82% of millennials globally care about how brands behave toward customers, employees and their communities, yet 56% believe that brands rarely live up to the promises. When you look at that on the next slide, in comparison with Gen X, with boomers and above, you see that Millennials skew higher than the global average as well as the average for the older generation. What that means is, brand proof is only going to get more important in your mix of marketing services and opportunities to deliver against your brand promise.
So I believe this is our final poll question, question number four. Yes thanks a lot, Joe. And here it is. We’d like to ask our attendees this last and final question: Do you think your brand delivers an experience worth positively talking about and sharing? You know, remember, web is huge, social is huge. But also there’s a big disconnect between the opinions of marketers and consumers. Basically consumers don’t think marketers are delivering an experience worth positively talking about. So what’s your thought? Is your brand delivering an experience worth positively talking about and sharing? Pretty straightforward question and I’m just going to push to the results. Push to audience, there we go. Frequently, excellent, 58%. Then Joe, what do you think? Frequently certainly is better than never but perhaps not as good as infrequently.
Well we have some high achieving folks attending the webinar. Clearly, one of the key things in terms of a business value that’s delivered by delivering against your brand promise, is to provide a reason for people to share. So to amplify your brand messages and to amplify them in a positive, and a consistent way. And so what we found throughout was very few in fact, as Ben pointed out, that 3 out of 4 brands did not provide an experience that was different from their competition. It sounds like maybe we have a cream of the crop attending a webinar, but the key thing is to remember that the purpose of delivering exceptional brand experience is in order to drive that word-of-mouth and amplification of your message – to reach the right audience in a way that’s optimized and that maximizes your return. What we’ve recognized is, well there’s not a great amount of variation across the scores, we do see it gathering and cohering in a couple of different industries. You see something similar in the UK where Netflix came out on top, PayPal, Apple and Sony; Samsung also in the top five and then IKEA which delivers an experience at the heart of what they do. And then you see in China something very similar where you have technology companies at the top along with companies that deliver the experience at the heart of what they do. When you go to the next slide we just listed out the next five, so again, recognizing that from the bottom to the top we didn’t see a wide, wide variation in scores, but we did see a consistency in technology organizations tending to over-deliver on brand experience; experience brands, and for brands with experience at their heart, over-delivering, and then in this second tier we started to see some retail, we started to see some CPG, started to see some beverages, some quick serve restaurants as well. So the key thing here is that brand experience is not confined to a single proofpoint. Not confined to a single industry or to a single vertical or geography – it’s important across the board, across all touchpoints which deliver the proof of the promise that is important in order to drive word of mouth and loyalty. So the last part Ben’s going to start to take you through is a self-assessment. So the big question that everyone has is what do I do with that information and how do I begin to recognize and identify whether my organization is doing well in recognizing and delivering against its promise across the different proof point that we spoke of.
Thanks Joe. And yes, what Joe is saying is obviously we’ve now laid out the business case and a little bit of what the landscape looks like along with some of those key lessons to take away, but it’s really important to think about how to operationalize this within your organization too. Armed with the data that says this is something that’s important, something that we find really successful is, before jumping straight to the answer, to really ask a number of self-reflective questions to yourself certainly, but also in workshop format with some of your colleagues to think more critically about your brand today. And how it sounds like from the poll questions for many of you, the matter of moving to something that’s kind of happenstance, somewhat frequent but not all the time, to something that’s more habitual and consistent which is what consumers are really asking for when it comes to brands delivering proof on their promises. So as you can see here, this is what we were calling the experience brand checklist and contained within are some key questions that can help you start to understand if you have an experience brand on your hand or if you have some progress still to make to become an experience brand that would top the chart that Joe just talked you through. So starting with question 1, and we previewed this a little bit earlier, it’s helpful before you start jumping to how you’re going to deliver proof to start by really knowing what your promise is. And even for people who say they know what their brand promise is, sometimes it’s a good exercise just to jot it down in two to three sentences. The other thing that we found in working with some of our clients is that it’s helpful too, to put a number of people who work on the brand in the same room and have them each independently do this exercise to ensure that there’s a common understanding of what your promise is or maybe even reveals some internal discrepancies between understanding what that core idea is that we’re trying to deliver proof on. So as we say here, we encourage you to write it down and once you have it, even pin it up on your cubical wall so that you have in your mind what everything needs to map back to.
Great, checklist item number two. Do you prove it through the actions that your brand delivers across the proofpoints? I think that one of the things that Ben had showed in talking about those four brands in the examples was, not only do they have a clear promise, but it was very simple to look across a variety of proofpoints and identify how those proofpoints actually delivered on that promise. So while it begins with a very clear and simple promise, example T-Mobile to be the uncarrier, the question that you want to ask yourself and your team within the organization is have we in the proofpoints delivered, provided proof against the promise that we make. Because there’s the significant amount of effort that goes into the messaging but what people remember and take away and act on is the experience that they have with the brand. So checklist item number two is to work internally to point to or identify three to four notable actions the brand has taken to prove to the world that your promise is proven.
Question number three is, do you prove it through your interactions? So whereas Joe is talking about brand actions in the world that oftentimes involve a brand taking a stand or really entering a conversation that’s slightly aside from its core business, this has to do inherently with the brand’s core business. So what are the key consumer experiences across consumer touchpoints, like customer service or in-store, web, mobile, content, experiential, that deliver proof on your promise? And importantly how do you not just do this in a way that’s satisfactory but instead in a way that’s notable and worth talking about. As Joe shared earlier through the research, we saw that even when brands deliver satisfactorily it’s not enough and that in fact it matters more that it’s worth talking about. And I mentioned that data point earlier is that just one in four consumers thought that most brands are delivering something significantly different than their competitors. If you have a good and differentiated brand promise then the proof too should be differentiated. So how is your customer service experience inherently different than your competitors? Or how is your in-store experience especially memorable and something that would enter into a natural conversation someone would have when they were thinking about your brand? These are the questions to ask yourself so that it’s not just your actions that match your promise but also your interactions.
That’s great and leads directly into checklist item number four. Is your experience differentiated and I think Ben highlighted once again what’s probably for brand managers the scariest number in their research which is that three out of four do not deliver experiences that are significantly different from their competitors. In order to stand out and to drive word of mouth and to drive loyalty, you have to be differentiated. And as Ben mentioned you’re differentiated through not just your actions but with the interactions that you have with consumers on a consistent basis. So asking yourself the hard questions: Are we differentiated? Do we provide experiences that are significantly different than our competitors? Do something that’s going to help you to provide that whether you need to make changes in a single point, or across the board in all of the proofpoints.
And then the last question, do you make it moving? And this one is one that we touch in more depth in the white paper that we’re making available for download and that’s on our website too, but it’s all about inserting a motion into what your brand proof is that you’re delivering and it’s a really important one because we know inherently that what bonds people to brands is when in some way they’re moved emotionally. And this doesn’t have to be a traditional definition of the word emotional. It does not have to be cheer jerking necessarily. It can be uplifting or providing a sense of hope or excitement or a sense of humor. All of those are ways to activate people in an emotional way that makes whatever the brand proofpoint is that you’re delivering, moving. Do they feel proud of it? Are they inspired by it? Are they bonded to it? Are all good questions to ask as you start to think about how your brand is going to interact with the human mind. Joe’s going to finish this off with question six.
Great. So people talk about, they share, and they’re drawn to the things that they experience. And as we’ve been going through the top brands you’re talking about, the top brands and how they differ on the experience index from other brands, the key, the value that they’re delivering is a 200% higher NPS or likelihood to recommend. That translates into thousands or tens of thousands of recommendations – depending on the size of your marketing budget – so the question that you need to ask yourself and to ask your team is: Are delivering experiences that are worth talking about? It’s fairly simple to convince ourselves that everything we do is worth talking about we can get very caught up in our own brands and believing that they’re top of mind for folks but don’t forget what you’re computing with when you’re asking them to talk about an experience. You’re talking about, in competing with not just everyone in your category but the other experiences that are making demands on your consumer’s time. So challenging yourself directly that you need to deliver something that’s worth talking about not just in our category but across the lives of the consumers that we want to touch and I think Ben’s point about making sure that it’s emotional is a great one you should fold in here because if you’re going to convince a skeptical friend that your brand’s worth talking about, what are you going to point to? What interaction or action that you’re taking do you expect that they’re going to share? So that was the final item on our checklist
And hopefully that too is a helpful overview of the research and also some key questions that you can ask to yourself or within your organization to begin to think about putting this research into action. And again, Joe and I have spent a lot of time with this research and the data so certainly if you have additional questions about it or if you’re skeptical as to whether your brand is achieving as an experience brand, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. A number of questions have also come in over the course of the webinar that Joe and I are going to spend the last few minutes we have together answering now. But certainly if there are any additional ones feel free to chime in I see some coming in live as we talk now. One of the first questions that came in over the course of the webinar was one about how this makes sense and specifically the b2b landscape. And so my question is around how to sell through these ideas when your consumer is another business in the b2b space; how best to start to align this way of thinking for those clients. So there was actually a great HBR article recently called the b2b elements of value and wha about as consumers bring those attitudes and belief systems to work as well. And that in many ways what’s on the line when a b2b buyer is considering making a tens or hundreds or even millions of dollar purchase from another business, is much greater than what he or she is putting on the line when she purchases a roll of toilet paper at the grocery store. They are often putting on the line their personal reputation and happiness, their career, and their overall fulfillment in a part of their life where they spend a whole lot of their time. So while this research was focused on consumer brands – 100 consumer brands in fact – we think the attitudes and beliefs that are represented in how people answered those questions and what they value in their brands and their lives, certainly do translate to the b2b space. And to answer this attendee’s question directly, a great starting point in terms of making that business case would be that Harvard Business Review article which is called “what b2b buyers really care about” and you’ll see exactly that kind of pyramidal structure.
That sounds great, thanks so much Ben. You know we do have many more questions that are coming in and one of our attendees asks about how to relate this to brands growth. As most purchase decisions are made emotionally, how do you use “brand promise and brand proof” in this situation and make it distinctive? Your thoughts?
What we’ve seen, I think, that it’s tying it back to the key indicators that we found in the research – to both NPS as well as loyalty – there’s significant body of research that’s been done that connects very directly higher level NPS, or higher level likelihood to recommend, as well as a higher level of loyalty, with a higher level of sales. And so we believe across all of the different industries – I know we see a question here about b2b that Ben just answered, but also a question about CPG, across all of the industries if you can differentiate your experience and deliver proof against promises that you’ve made, you’ll deliver a higher level of likelihood to recommend and loyalty which translates directly into potential sales.
Fascinating. I mean, CPG – I mean a lot of it is emotional.
I think it’s a great question obviously very important to go emotional, and I think Chris to your specific question about especially in lower interest categories, even more important to go emotional. And it’s not as hard as it may seem. One of the examples we shared at the front of the webcast was Charmin which is toilet paper. And one of the reasons it’s a favorite example of mine is you know your toilet paper, no matter how many plies it has, really has no permission to be “emotional” yet I think Charmin has found a really lovely brand promise “enjoy the go” that opens us up to delivering proof on a number of different levels that are indeed emotional because they’re entertaining, they’re light hearted, they’re fun and they bring enjoyment to a time in our lives when we wouldn’t have even considered it, which is going to the bathroom. And you know great examples of that include the work that we’ve done with them around Van-go bringing the first Uber style bathroom to the streets of New York and what we actually found on that example is that it was in fact so talk worthy that it was written about on Mashable and was shared at a significantly higher rate than the rest of Mashable comments partially because it was surprising. I think that there’s a great amount of delight and emotional attachment that comes from brands acting in a way that is unexpected for the category and creates a positive, emotional response as a result.
Got it. Now you’ve mentioned several categories – Charmin obviously, IKEA – one of our attendees asked, did you explore how other demographic groups responded? Were there differences? We’re talking furniture, we’re talking toilet paper, any variations there between different industry groups?
When we looked at the data and we looked across all of the different demographics we looked not just within the demographic groups globally but the demographic groups within each of the geographies that we studied, so across the United States, United Kingdom and China. So we did an exploration of the data to try to find out if there were any patterns that were worth foregrounding for brands in order to indicate that some of these different groups actually look at brand experience very differently. And what we found was the only demographic categories that really showed a very strong pattern of difference was the generational category. And that makes a lot of sense as you begin to think about the experience and the expectations of younger consumers versus some of the older consumers across categories whether that’s technology, CPG, hospitality, retail banking, retail. What you see is that the expectations from the younger generation are higher than they are for the older generations and that’s consistent across the board. The other demographic categories we looked at… we looked at gender, we looked at marital status, we looked at income level, and none of them showed a very strong or a significant pattern of difference in how people were rating brands in a category.
Got it. You know, Joe and Ben, one last question to sum up our webcast today: What do you recommend, quickly, on the action that brands can take to become “experience brands”? Joe, do you want to tell us first?
Sure. I think that the key…we began to outline it in some of the checklist, is to begin with making sure that you have a consistent and a clear promise; one that folks within the organization across the board – not just customer-facing people – can identify, can share and can articulate. And from there, I think that’s the beginning of building on how do we begin then to deliver against that promise.
Got it. How about you Joe? I’ll pick up where Joe left off. It’s Ben. And what I would say around that is that it’s as much as something that you’re going to do externally as it’s something you have to do internally. And one of the first steps I think we suggest is developing an internal Task Force on delivering brand proof consistently on brand promise, and making sure that resources are aligned around it. And that internal alignment is almost more important as a first step than beginning to address it externally because if your internal folks aren’t ready to go, then the consistency isn’t going to be there.
That sounds good. Well unfortunately we’ve reached the end of our time. Thanks to everyone for attending Ad Age’s custom webcast sponsored by Jack Morton. On behalf of our guests, Ben Grossman and Joe Panepinto from Jack Morton, thank you so much for your time and have a great and prosperous day.