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Brand and Customer Experience

Brands are under pressure to develop emotional connections and relationships with consumers and business decision makers.

Success relies on delivering experiences that resonate with our clients’ target audience(s), across every experience point that consumers have with a brand, products or services.

We help our clients enhance their brand and customer relationships by analyzing and optimizing the emotional imprint – the customer experiences that drive immediate purchase decisions, as well as long-term connections. And we provide this at local, regional, or global level.

Our brand and customer experience (BaCE for short) research addresses the many touchpoints across the customer journey, creating lasting emotional connections.

Success Stories
  • Improving market impact by testing brand strength

    Improving market impact by testing brand strength

    28.06.2016

    We helped our client understand ways of improving its brand relationships with its target audience.

    Situation

    This client is a significant player in the market for compact, stylish and fuel-efficient city cars. It wished to learn more about how consumers relate to its brand and how to create a deeper emotional bond between customers and its brand. The manufacturer also wanted to assess the customer-brand relationship and the performance of a new model.

    Approach

    We employed our customer-brand relationship (CBR) framework in Germany to investigate how strong and positive consumers’ connections were with our client’s compact car. We also benchmarked the manufacturer’s brand relationships with its customers against those of its category competitors.

    Outcome

    Our research found that the auto company enjoyed strong relationships with 38% of consumers, while its top two competitors had strong connections with 46% and 47% of customers respectively. Additionally, its brand had the highest share of negative relationships with consumers at 11%. Taking these findings into consideration, we were able to propose ways our client could improve its brand impact in the market, such as leveraging its joy of life attributes to increase brand equity and catch up with its competitors.

    Click here to download our success story (short version)

    Click here to download our success story (long version)

  • Validating and rebuilding retail assumptions for a pharma leader

    Validating and rebuilding retail assumptions for a pharma leader

    24.06.2016

    Our research gives our client insight into the “moment of truth” in antidiarrheal drug purchases.

    Situation

    The company was facing major competition from cheaper alternatives, especially generic versions of the drug. It suspected that its marketing campaigns were also benefitting its rivals by creating shopper interest in over-the-counter antidiarrheal medicines. The organization asked us to investigate.

    Approach

    The pharma manufacturer wanted to understand the “moment of truth” in the shopping experience – when a customer decides which brand to buy. Our methodology explored the behaviors of both protagonists in this event: the store sales representative and the shopper.

    We went on shop-along expeditions with consumers and interviewed them face to face to get a qualitative understanding of their behavior. We also did a quantitative, web-based study to measure the drivers of their actions. Then, we initiated mystery shopping to understand the actions of the pharmacy attendants.

    Outcome

    Our findings showed the client that many of its assumptions about the behavior of the shop clerks and shoppers were not accurate. This gave it insights that it could use to optimize marketing to consumers and merchandizing through the trade.

    The company had quantifiable data to drive its decisions and could use it to invest in brand communications and point of sales activation.

    Click here to download our success story (short version)

    Click here to download our success story (long version)

  • Understanding consumer perceptions of DIY pricing

    Understanding consumer perceptions of DIY pricing

    24.06.2016

    We investigated why Brazilians believed a hardware chain’s products were expensive compared to those of competitors.

    Situation

    A building materials and hardware company enjoyed a strong image in Brazil as a supplier of high-quality products at a premium. Facing the prospect of losing market share to its lower priced rivals, our client wanted to find out why customers believed its prices to be high.

    Approach

    We redesigned our tracking study to get a deeper quantitative and qualitative understanding of consumers’ perceptions around its pricing. We conducted around 2,500 face-to-face interviews each year across 14 cities and regions. In addition, we collected retail price data for our client’s stores and those of the competition. Qualitative interviews with store owners provided further insight into emerging retail trends.

    Outcome

    We found that customers thought our client’s offerings to be more expensive than they actually were because of its historic positioning and communication style. Stores reinforced the perception of high pricing by prominently displaying the most expensive goods and full price tags for items on sale. Based on this knowledge, the building material company took steps to address customers’ views of its pricing and to strengthen its image among Brazilian consumers.

    Click here to download our success story (short version)

    Click here to download our success story (long version)

  • Shaping consumer segmentation for the digital age

    Shaping consumer segmentation for the digital age

    20.04.2016

    We partnered with Orange to help drive its strong customer experience strategy by enhancing its consumer segmentation model for the digital age.

    The client

    Orange is one of the largest operators of mobile and internet services in Europe and Africa and a global leader in corporate telecommunication services.

    Situation

    Richard Clarkson, Head of Segmentation Research, Orange: “Our vision of Orange is to provide the best customer experience and connecting customers to what's essential in their lives. Our customer segmentation was simply too old; it was five years old. It needed a change. It needed to be updated, particularly in the light of what's happened over the last five years with smartphones and the changing competitive environment with over-the-top providers and also online low-cost providers. We asked GfK to help because of their industry understanding of technology, but also their expertise in segmentation and their understanding of advanced analytics and modelling.”

    Approach

    Richard Clarkson: “Our segmentation brief to GfK had some challenging parameters. Firstly, we needed a model that would work across our marketing activities and loyalty activities with customers, but at the same time helping inform our innovation department, our technocenter, on what customers might need in the next two to three years’ time. Another key parameter was that we needed a model that would work on a country level in places like Romania and Poland, which are very different to Spain and France. We wanted to try to keep consistent with one model so we had one voice and one segmentation that everyone within the group could be talking about.”

    Outcome

    Raniv Dale, Head of UK Technology, GfK: “One of the really delightful aspects of the segmentation was how successfully it was embraced by the local markets. A key part of that was having our GfK expertise on the ground to support the delivery and make sure it was meaningful for the local businesses.” Richard Clarkson: “Working with GfK has helped us embed the segmentation within the business, both at the group level, but also at a country level. And now we're working with GfK to develop another segmentation for our EMEA region.”

    Click here to download the success story

Related Products for Brand and Customer Experience

Latest insights

Here you can find the latest insights for Brand and customer experience. View all insights

    • 11/16/17
    • Public Services
    • Brand and Customer Experience
    • Public Communications and Social Science
    • Global
    • English

    Germany reclaims top “nation brand” ranking, with USA dropping to sixth place

    France leaps to second place for first time, since 2009, while UK regains ground to remain third and Japan enters top five for first time since 2011. USA is only country showing overall decline in 2017. Germany shows major gains in Governance, People, and Culture.
    • 10/30/17
    • Brand and Customer Experience
    • Global
    • English

    It’s time to listen to the voice of the customer

    Almost every major brand now has a Voice of the Customer (VoC) programme. And in recent years talk of CEM or VoC has increasingly been replaced with “customer-centricity”. However, the reality is that many VoC programmes actually seek to serve a business objective of monitoring a KPI such as NPS, and to justify decisions already taken. Rather than listening to the voice of the customer, instead we still all too often ask our customers to spend their precious time answering multiple rating scales that the customer doesn’t even care about. Is this really customer-centric?

    Many VoC programmes are not customer-centric

    A recent visit to my car dealership for a service implored me to score a 9 or 10 on a survey I had been given, as I was clearly told anything other than this score would result in negative consequences for the salesman in question. How, I wondered, did my experience become all about them? And how does this help improve the experience in the future? Let’s take another example. After a recent flight I was asked to give my feedback, only to be asked to rate multiple aspects of the experience. 15 minutes of questions about every conceivable aspect of the flight. What I really wanted to say was that the cabin service was really good, but after 10 minutes of answering about anything and everything other than this, I’d frankly lost the will to continue further and just wanted the whole experience to end. Again, the feeling persists that I was filling in a series of scorecards that suited the airline rather than feeling they genuinely wanted my feedback. Not exactly “customer-centric”. This old way of working is neither customer-centric nor sustainable into the future. We must change now or have change forced upon us.

    To be sustainable and relevant in the future, this must change

    Why? Firstly, in a world of big data and multiple screens, consumers have ever increasing demands upon their time, and a decreasing attention span. For researchers, this translates as lower response rates and a marked reduction in willingness to conduct longer surveys. To continue receiving meaningful feedback, brands need to demonstrate the relevance of doing so to the customers and engage with them. Working with your own clients can also provide a platform to take this further and start co-creating with them. You can start by stripping back questionnaires, relinquishing control and letting the customer control the agenda far more than they do currently. However, this doesn’t mean that VoC programmes should be about producing less useful information for the business, in fact the end outcome will be more beneficial to the business; more focused, more relevant insight, and at a lower cost.

    New technologies now enable a more customer-centric approach

    Using text and voice analytics, we are now able to really uncover what matters to the consumer, instead of inferring this from analysis of multiple questions. From these responses, we can recreate categorizations for analysis, add sentiment to our understanding, and understand customers at a really granular level. And we know everything said is relevant and important, because it has been volunteered and not forced, from the customer. Not only that, but as consumer expectations change in the face of an ever-evolving environment, this will appear in the unstructured data analysis. New themes can be tracked and measured, and retrospective trend analysis applied. Companies can see these changes and be more proactive in addressing them.

    A truly customer-centric approach is also more cost effective

    Finally, such an approach has substantial cost savings. Asking fewer questions reduces costs, and being able to analyze unstructured data also helps eliminate the need for ad-hoc research to dig deeper into changes in KPIs. With social media providing consumers with a platform to amplify good and bad experiences, listening to the voice of the customer has never been more important. It’s time we started to really listen. Take concept validation to the next level. Find out more about voice analytics with this interactive content. hbspt.cta.load(2405078, 'a9dd8501-7506-4137-b684-84f620855e9a', {});
    • 09/12/17
    • Brand and Customer Experience
    • Global
    • English

    3 basic mistakes that can ruin your customer experience survey

    The make-or-break for a customer experience survey is that it delivers a great experience in itself.  The customer has to be left feeling that their time spent in completing the survey is ultimately of direct benefit to themselves, not a wearisome sacrifice of time to benefit the company. I was recently sent a survey invitation asking me to give my feedback on a flight.  I decided to give it a go, but it turned out that the survey was longer than the flight (or at least that is how it felt). I do think it’s laudable that businesses ask for my feedback, but, while most surveys claim that the feedback will be ‘valued’, many survey experiences don’t make me feel valued. They fall into the three basic mistakes:
    • They are often far too long – compared to many people, I have a lot of motivation to complete surveys, but I sometimes give up due to the sheer length and, if I do make it to the end, I know that my last few answers to the endless grid style questions are pretty random.
    • Hygiene factors versus value-adds. I find the premise of some questions a bit odd – I understand that recommendation is a good thing for businesses, but I’m really not going to recommend my bank on the basis that I was able to withdraw my money easily, or it wasn’t a big effort to change a direct debit – some levels of service should be acknowledged as basic essentials, not value-adds.
    • Company-centric, not customer-centric. When I’m asked to give my comments, it’s often worded as wanting to find out why I gave a certain score (again mainly for recommendation). I might by cynical, but this makes me think that increasing the score is what matters to the company, rather than truly improving my experience. The survey questions must be worded from the customers’ viewpoint, encouraging them to give the information that matters to them, not just what matters to the company.
    It seems to me that for many businesses the customer survey has become just another management tool – to measure every single part of the customer journey with a ‘customer score’ – rather than a way to listen to the actual voice of the customer.  And it can’t be customer centric to get customers only to answer questions that the company wants to ask and, at the same time, dictate how they can answer (“please tick one box only”). What businesses need to capture are the experiences that are relevant and memorable to the customer, at the most appropriate point in time.  In order for feedback surveys to be both better experiences for the customer and ultimately more useful to the company, businesses need to be much smarter about what they ask, how they get more from less and how they connect the customer feedback to the other data they have in their business and across teams.

    4 tips for better customer experience surveys

    • If you need a score, then make the question relevant to the experience. Don’t use recommendation everywhere just because it makes your life easier to have consistency. Perhaps the customer just wants to feel happy?
    • Ask customers to describe their experience in their words – what a customer chooses to tell you is what is you need to know, because what is memorable will drive their future behaviour.
    • Let technology take the strain. Use text and voice analytics to understand not just what customers say, but also how they say it. This uncovers the root cause of their problems and the actions you need take.
    • Get everyone involved in understanding the results. Finding solutions to customer pain points shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of customer services.

    Summary

    Customer feedback needs to be treated as an energy source: it will be renewable and powerful, so long as you respect customers’ time and intelligence, design your questionnaire to be honestly customer-centric and use the results to build better experiences. For more information, please contact John Banerji at john.banerji@gfk.com. hbspt.cta.load(2405078, 'f783a63d-9721-4ea0-9afa-2fe97d270554', {});
    • 08/04/17
    • Brand and Customer Experience
    • Global
    • English

    3 things to stop doing if you want to grow your brand

    Brands are wild and unpredictable, like animals.  If you want to study them, you need to let the zoo gates open, leave them to run free and let the spy cams do the rest. This may sound like an unnerving statement for an analytics industry dominated by control and quantification of brand KPIs.  However, if you really love something, you need to set it free – and this couldn’t be more true for brands. The way we study brands today is sometimes akin to determining the hunting pattern of Killer Whales by watching them catch fish out of a bucket.  It is set up all wrong from the start. Our understanding of brands has come a long way, as have the tools we use.  My three pieces of advice on what to do differently to grow your brand are these:

    1. Stop simply measuring your brand, start understanding it.

    Brands are almost as complex as people, which is why we relate to them like we do with our social circle: we need to get to know our friends before we trust them with our money.  We need to have common interests.  We need them to make us feel special.  However, rating all our friends using the same measuring stick is impossible, right, because each different type of friend needs to be measured against different criteria. For brands, customer funnels and sales figures can give a good measure of the financial “fundamentals” of the brand – but they do not tell us what has worked well to get to that point and, therefore, what to do more of.  Research programs focused on brand identity, used in parallel with trackers, are an investment into the future of your brand, not just for the next 6 months, but the next few decades.

    2. Stop comparing your brand to others. Embrace it for what it is.

    We send our kids to school hoping they will all excel in math equally, but we soon find out that each child is so unique that they have to be judged on their own merits.  Although the child’s standard performance report card is indicative, it by no means reflects the full potential and true talents of a pupil. For brands, developing this potential requires really understanding the product, the target customer, and the vision of the brand: “what it wants to be when it grows up” – in other words, its “soul”.  Brands, like pupils, tend to thrive when asked to perform in the subjects where they excel and differentiate.  Finding these strengths enables a company to focus its energy on those aspects of its brand that are more profitable in the long run, rather than right here, right now.

    3. Stop controlling everything. Let your customers shape your brand.

    It sounds counter-intuitive, but it is really about grassroots.  Whether you have worked on it consciously or not, you already have a brand out there.  The first step to improving that brand is understanding the two or three things consumers remember about your brand. Whether you like these perceptions or not, they are already out there and you need to work with that reality, rather than try to become someone else.  Build on the best parts of your image and minimize the negatives.  This sounds obvious, but most brands today still lack a program that lets them truly listen to their customers. For a brand manager trying to sort through a clutter of often conflicting data, what this means is taking a simple, yet bold approach to brand: focusing on the stripped-down, core premise of what the brand was founded upon and re-evaluating whether it still delivers, while being open to facing some harsh truths about whether the proposition really resonates with the current market/customer.

    Conclusion

    There is plenty of scope for brands nowadays to benefit from tools that are breaking down the customer/brand barrier. These monitor customer behavior unobtrusively through implicit methods such as passive measurement, and enable the collection of large sets full of customer insight that can be analyzed via advanced Artificial Intelligence and text analytics.  This can provide a moving picture of brand identity, which can guide decisions at both tactical and strategic levels. George Tsakraklides is a Research Director at GfK. To share your thoughts, please email george.tsakraklides@gfk.com or leave a comment below. hbspt.cta.load(2405078, '7bd2446d-46d3-4942-867b-e98eff75334f', {});
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