Walk the Walk: The Need for Brand Experiences

June 16, 2014

Today’s consumer is always on, connected to digital and social media every waking moment. Even before interacting with a brand, individuals can research a product, read user reviews, and poll the opinions of their friends and families. In fact, 86 percent of marketers feel that, over the next five years, better informed and empowered consumers will have a “high” to “very high” impact on marketing, Marketing2020 research found.

Ironically, as the potential reach of marketing spreads further through digital channels, brands must focus on the in-store, in-person experience if they want to succeed moving forward. “Being close to the customer” was chosen by 54 percent of Marketing2020 respondents as the most important marketing leadership competency over the next five years. Accordingly, 80 percent either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that marketing will include more consumer ambassadors in the near future.

One marketing vice president who participated in the Marketing2020 survey noted, “As it becomes easier to shop and compare, it becomes more paramount that customers are in control, and the experience at the store level is critical to success. If the experience doesn’t match up to the image that marketing is communicating, customers will go elsewhere.” Another executive echoed that notion: “Brands can no longer rely on assertions alone.”

Here are three steps marketers can take to ensure a quality brand experience for consumers:

  • Adapt a social listening mindset. Far too often brands use Twitter and other social channels much like broadcast media, posting coupons and calls-to-action but not much else. Instead, think of social as a new form of customer service, a way to find out in real time what customers really think of your brand, and react accordingly.

  • Take an easy-does-it approach. Consumers have almost limitless purchase options, meaning their threshold for a complicated or unpleasant brand experience is incredibly low. If a brand isn’t seamlessly integrated across every channel, it risks losing potential customers at any point in the purchase path. Mobile accessibility and easy social sharing, for example, should be standard features of any brand experience.

  • Inform and train sales associates. It is insufficient for brands to merely assert their value. Marketers must clearly communicate and reinforce the brand promise to employees, especially those who interact directly with customers, as bad experiences are much more likely to be shared with friends and families than good ones. When employees feel informed, energized, and focused, they are more likely to become brand ambassadors, spreading positive word of mouth throughout their social circles.
About Marketing2020

Marketing2020Organizing for Growth is the most comprehensive global marketing leadership initiative ever undertaken. Led by Millward Brown Vermeer in partnership with the ANA, Spencer Stuart, and Adobe, Marketing2020 is focused on how to best align marketing strategy, structure, and capabilities for business growth. The Marketing2020 fieldwork included vision interviews with more than 250 leading CMOs and an in-depth online survey of 10,491 contributors from 92 countries.


"Walk the Walk: The Need for Brand Experiences." Marketing2020.