Headspace: Beyond the solution to lending a helping hand
by Tenielle Maris. In an experience-centric era — where advertisers and marketers are told ad nauseam to create experiential, multisensorial and immersive brand touch points — we need to start looking beyond the gimmicks and entertainment appeal to provide customers with a service experience that actually addresses a consumer pain point, but in a way that goes over and above the call of duty.
As time continues to become a rare commodity for consumers who are increasingly choice-rich and time-poor, so the definition of convenience evolves at a relentless pace with consumers placing an ever-greater emphasis on time-saving products and services.
The brand butler trend, although already introduced a few years ago, encapsulates this very line of thinking:
“Consumers seek brands that can make daily life and mundane tasks easier, faster and as hassle-free as possible. And those who offer help beyond their perceived responsibilities will truly delight consumers.” —Trendwatching.com
Now, in an era where instant gratification is the expected norm, there’s a renewed focus on the notion of ‘serving is the new selling’ and the importance of embracing your brand’s ability to uniquely and efficiently assist its audience. Consumers are increasingly turning to brands and retailers which are on problem-solving missions to reduce pain and increase reward through innovative and pre-emptive supporting services that plug seamlessly into their lives — to facilitate faster decision-making, enhance daily lifestyle needs and save money.
Tech driving brands as butlers
It goes without saying that tech and mobile have been key drivers in amplifying the customer experience through on-demand information that directly addresses a consumer need. One only needs to look at the explosion of apps that assist audiences in ways that we don’t know how we ever lived without: from Starbucks’ in-app functionality to pre-order your coffee wherever you are and Tesco’s shopping app that has been designed to intuitively anticipate shopping needs to North Face’s Snow Report app, which provides outdoor adventurers with weather forecasts, snow reports, driving directions, and maps for global ski resorts, brands are making themselves an integral part of their customers’ lives through solutions that tackle human needs like never before.
An integrated approach
Brands and retailers need to go beyond the app and consider how to extend convenience for a fully integrated omnichannel approach: one that seamlessly demonstrates the brand as a helpful one along each point of the customer journey.
Alibaba dominates the e-commerce landscape in China, and the success of the brand giant lies in designing solutions that directly address the challenges faced by Chinese consumers in their day-to-day lives. Through the launch of its app Alipay, the brand has revolutionised the Chinese consumer landscape. Beyond paying for online transactions, the super-app has positioned itself as a global lifestyle tool that may be used to pay any transaction (from taxis to shopping in-store), with additional benefits that continually make life easier, from splitting restaurant bills to booking travel and to even offering financial planning. Now through a partnership with the world payment platform, Adyen, Alipay has been rolled out into stores worldwide to enable Chinese tourists to pay in a way that has become second nature to them.
Taking a page out of IKEA’s book
The IKEA brand is rooted in making lives easier, and it shows in all that the brand sets out to do. Beyond providing audiences with access to home products, the brand provides intuitive solutions to build on its lifestyle proposition in standout ways. In IKEA’s recent Cook This Page campaign, Canadian shoppers were provided with cooking paper recipes during cooking events across stores to make cooking foolproof and to take the fear out of preparing perfect meals.
Brands and retailers that go the extra mile to improve the lives of customers — by tapping into behavioural insights and addressing consumer challenges — offer a next level value proposition that will undoubtedly connect with the hyper-connected and time-strapped consumer more powerfully than ever before.
- trendwatching.com: Brand Butlers “Why serving is the new selling”
- Business Insider: Here’s what Starbucks is offering if you order ahead on its app
- Retail Week: Tesco trials automated shopping app for online customers
- Mobile Marketer: North Face targets skiers, snowboarders with iPhone app
- WARC: How Alibaba continues to revolutionise retail in China
- Medium: The key to success in China — the Alibaba story
Tenielle Maris is strategic director at TTL agency, 34°, in Johannesburg. Beginning her career in branding and communications, she has spent the last decade in the marketing industry where she has worked upon big brands spanning the African continent. Having found her passion in understanding what drives human beings to connect with particular brands, her time is spent getting up close and personal with the people whom brands are trying to connect with. Tenielle contributes the monthly “Headspace” column, which unpacks anything and everything that helps marketers and advertisers understand why people connect with brands, to MarkLives.com.