Analysis & Opinion

Consumer Pulse: Americans Want to Feel the Love

May 21, 2009 MullenLowe

In a down economy, consumers are reevaluating their brand relationships. Authenticity is the new sex symbol, as consumers are looking for real and meaningful connections. Any brand that doesn’t shape up is headed for the brand divorce court. In contrast, brands that understand that consumers are looking for love will strengthen their bond. Here’s what we learned about how a brand can foster a happy marriage with consumers:

1. Honesty is the best policy to win the consumer’s heart

No relationship is successful without trust. Few Americans say they trust “big business” today, and most believe that companies “do not tell the truth in their advertising.” Truth and transparency are imperative in a brand relationship. However, simply asking for someone’s trust is not enough – brands have to prove it, and earn it, not just say it.

2. Be generous, caring and understanding – give back

In the new era of fiscal responsibility, one of the biggest consumer turnoffs is greed. Consumers are looking to avoid brands that are associated with excess and conspicuous consumption – they’re seeking out responsible brands with a genuine heart. Brands that show they care and are most giving in what they have to offer – through distributing free samples, providing cash back, even giving back to the community, are most loved.

3. Saving time is more valuable than saving money

Half of America feels that “a lack of time is a bigger problem in their lives than a lack of money.” And brands that take the time to make things a little easier for consumers will garner the most affection. Timesaving solutions to find information, get advice, connect with a live person and simplify the process (e.g., tools) – are considered brand acts of endearment.

4. Always show appreciation; no one wants to be taken for granted

At a time when consumers are cutting back and trading down, customer service is the one thing that keeps a consumer committed. While consumers are willing to accept a slight decrease in quality to save some money, they don’t want to sacrifice on good service. Showing appreciation, and gratitude, is a brand turn-on.

WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR MARKETERS?

  • Consumers want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth – in good times and in bad. Find ways to demonstrate your brand commitment to honesty and integrity.
  • Love your consumer freely and openly. Seek out the emotional connections that evoke passion, and give, without hesitation.
  • Saving time and simplifying is a brand token of love – be convenient, efficient and accessible.
  • Always remember to say “thank you.” Don’t scale back on service.