Experts from GfK, Harvard, Boston Univ. Advocate a Relational Approach to Marketing in Harvard Business Review
Today’s smartest companies understand that marketing and brand management are really forms of relationship management – and that relational intelligence is the key to business success. This perspective is the focus of a recent Harvard Business Review article co-authored by GfK’s John Wittenbraker, Global Director of Innovation, Brand and Customer Experience, along with Susan Fournier, Professor in Management at Boston University, and Jill Avery, Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School.
The article features research done by GfK to develop a unique relational intelligence tool to guide marketing activities ranging from CRM to brand management. The approach uses human relationships as metaphors for brand relationships. Drawing on R&D on over 200 brands in 11 categories in the US, China, Spain, and Germany, GfK developed a rich and rigorous classification of consumer-brand relationships for use in brand tracking and strategy research.
The system has been validated to be predictive of both market share and price premium by linking results to consumer panels and other measures of actual consumer behavior. GfK has applied the tool to over 2,500 brands to help clients sense and size various types of consumer relationships they have and then shift their portfolios of relationships to optimize penetration and profitability. GfK Brand Vivo, a new approach to brand tracking, uses this relational intelligence system as a foundation for measuring brand equity.
The HBR article goes on to challenge marketing organizations to combine relational intelligence and big data, urging that marketing be reorganized around relationships, expanding the umbrella of marketing and reframing the roles of employees and departments.