The old ABC sales paradigm (always be closing) is no longer applicable in today’s modern market. Millennials have completely flipped the script, and now retailers must be aware of the new standard: Always be collaborating.
After all, the path-to-purchase for consumers is anything but linear; rather, it looks more like a PAC-MAN maze – but without the ghosts. They make their way through breaking down advertising claims, researching products, reading online reviews (or webrooming) and asking their valued networks for advice. With such a journey, it’s hard to anticipate when they’ll turn a corner and actually make a purchase. While obviously difficult for the brands hoping to earn their dollars, these twists and turns are also burdensome for the consumer.
This is where brands need to come in as collaborators to ease the burden. By proving to consumers that they care about more than just their bottom line by educating and supporting, they will quickly earn the coveted loyalty they seek. To do this, brands must be sure to focus in on two key value offerings: a strong Editorial Authority and a unique Frictionless Journey.
Editorial Authority is the framework for which the brand value and voice beyond a mere product or service offering is built. It enables brands to overcome the consistent distractions that consumers face in the marketplace so they can find what they care about. Editorial Authority should serve as the foundation for a brand’s overall strategy, inspiring the actions and communication of the brand both internally and externally. While it plays a part in collaborating with modern consumers throughout their entire path-to-purchase, it has an especially high significance in the research phase because it is made up of three core components: the Brand Idea, consumer understanding and cultural relevancy.
The Brand Idea is a long-term proposition for a brand that drives everything it does. Campaigns come and go, but the Brand Idea lives for years and guides brands on what they need to do and say to stay true to who they are, from the mission statement, to the actual product or service developed, to the customer service process. Consumer understanding encompasses everything that makes consumers tick, including their needs and wants, their experiences, their values, their interests and more. A brand’s cultural relevancy is determined by understanding both its consumers and the market. The goal is for a brand to determine where the overlap exists between its culture and consumer culture.
As today’s consumers have fluidity across both digital and physical channels and use this to their advantage when making purchases, it is highly important that brands establish Editorial Authority to ensure they are in the right place, at the right time, with the right message – all of which will prove to consumers a dedication beyond profit.
Because of heightened expectations based on digital innovation, modern consumers demand the conveyance of a seamless customer experience at every touch point with a brand, whether in-person or online, that has little or no barriers to purchase. This is where online giants like Amazon have excelled and mostly cornered the market. However, there is still time for brands to pave their own way by creating a Frictionless Journey.
While a frictionless path-to-purchase is inherently part of this, we also believe it needs to go further than ease and efficiency to offer a unique emotional aspect. Why is this significant? Emotion leads to memory creation, and the creation of a great memory will be relived over and over again. These memories, whether developed pre-purchase, mid-purchase or post-purchase, are what truly enable consumers to develop a relationship with a brand and, thus, loyalty.
The reality is that selling in a way reminiscent of the Industrial Revolution era is not the way of the present or the future. Brands must realize what modern consumers are really looking for: the ability to collaborate with a brand that participates in relevant conversations and stands for what matters to them, as well as make seamless yet meaningful transactions. If brands understand this and make it happen, they will undoubtedly close the deal on consumer love.