Brand equity for most famous and successful brands of our times has been witnessing a fluctuation in view of changing needs and habits of consumers. The millennials are moving towards a rental economy where they rent everything and buy only if its something ‘premium’ and adds value. Understanding brand equity in this parlance, past practices reflect that while gauging brand equity from a consumer’s perspective, cognitive dimensions such as brand awareness, perceived quality, brand image and brand associations along with the behavioral dimensions of brand loyalty was taken into account.
i.e., Cognitive + Behavioral (dimensions of a consumer) = Brand equity; held true for brands and marketers for a long time. Alas, but not anymore.
In an increasingly Uber-ized economy, the highest market share is currently divided amongst those who have no holdings of own but work on aggregator model like Alibaba (one of the largest e-com portals), Airbnb (one of the largest accommodation providers) or Facebook (one of the largest content creators). Also, price competitiveness has become a major detractor for brand love. The most recent example is the clash of sales announced by major e-commerce sites like Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal, etc that sway consumers loyalty with every price reduction. This has led to the rise of another key element in the dynamics: Emotional connect.
So now: Cognitive + Behavioral + Emotional (dimensions of a consumer) = Brand Equity.
Where traditional practises of branding focuses on tangible benefits like product and quality offerings, there is expected a shift in focus to the intangible aspects like arousing sensory benefits and emotional elements of brand experience. It is to create in consumers a sense of relevance and affect consumer’s perception so as to make them see the brand as a reflection of their personality, character, social status and lifestyle. Some brands which have started leveraging it are Marlboro, Coca Cola, personalized product brands like Body Shop while there is more scope for brands like Harley-Davidson sell on aspirational value.
For a brand functioning in such a volatile space, it is crucial to identify positive attributions it can lend to consumers. In this, customization can play a crucial role. It is often seen that these positive associations around a brand comes from dreams, aspirations or inspirational feelings expressed by the story of the brand. Everyone today wants to exude a unique identity and wants to be associated with brands that reflect or enhance that uniqueness. The age of mass is over as that is dominated just by price, however what would be crucial in building name and trust would be couture, customized labels.
Thus, the components that play a pivotal role in developing Brand love today are
Another area that brands must pay attention is extending personal touch to communication and service. Customers always go back to those brands who have developed a positive relation with them. So, the mantra is pampering. When a brand is able to arouse feelings of empathy within users, the battle is won already. ‘This brand knows me’, ‘This brand is so functional’, ‘They are so approachable’ are topics of discussions that a brand needs to bring up to become a kingpin. The relative congruity and perfect convergence between good service provided, quality produce and positive image around it, is indomitable for any brand. Brand marketers, time to change the game!
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