Consumers Don’t Care About Brands

There is a common misperception by the marketing community that assumes that a consumer cares about a brand. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Consumers care about satisfying needs and solving problems. 

Brands are purely emblematic, vehicles or tools towards something bigger.  Consumers love the experience they have through a brand – but it isn’t the brand itself that matters. More often than not, it is about being part of community. 

And there are easy ways to know this through social media.

Listen to the conversation that take place on line about brands and your categories. I’m amazed how many senior leaders in companies never go online and observe what the conversations are about related to their brands.

Consumers have situations, circumstances, problems, need-states and conditions. 

They want a way to find a better experience when traveling (AirBnB), cleaning products that respect the environment (Method) or to have the tools to create that awesome video tip of the week (Animoto).

But it isn’t the brand they care about; it’s solving that problem, scratching that itch and belonging to a community.  

I enjoy signing up for various brands on Facebook to listen and watch the conversations that take place. It is like being a ‘fly on the wall’ at typical focus groups.

And, although I don’t believe most of what consumers say versus what they do, it still provides a glimpse into the world the swirls around a product or service.

Often the conversation is about shared values and community. Whether it is the Jameson Irish Whiskey, Harley Davidson or the Talenti Gelati, the discussions are the same as the product (or service) is the magnet drawing people together. But the discussion is about shared experience. People joke about drinking great Whiskey, Ireland or the feeling they get at their local water hole when they have a Jameson in hand. There is a secret language used (Jamo not Jameson). I wonder if there is a special handshake I haven't learned yet? 

Conversations about the new electric Harley and its quiet roar permeate the discussion as if everyone was sitting together in Sturgis, North Dakota for the annual motorbike rally that attracts 100,000 enthusiasts.  Or, it can be a group of foodies like me who indulge in conversation about how they were tempted by Sea Salt Caramel Talenti Gelati on a warm summer night in North Carolina.

I love being part of a community that listens to a Shaw University's Jazz Station WSHA. I love being part of a community of people who shop at Whole Foods where the products resonate with my personal values. I love being part of a community that listens to marketing podcasts (Mitch Joel's Six Pixels of Separation, Mark Schaefer's The Marketing Companion and Michael Hyatt's This Is Your Life). 

I care about my experience not those brands. 

Social media is a great place to bring a community together online to reinforce those experiences. But the brand is the magnetic force bringing together the common needs of people across different geographies.  

Are you really using social properly so your brand can be an energy force pulling like-minded consumers toward you?

I think it takes three important AUTHENTICITY attributes to do this properly:

AUTHENTIC to the brand voice: You have to bring the true voice of the brand to life online and make sure you attract people who strive toward a desire to be part of something bigger than themselves.

AUTHENTIC to the platform: You can post the same image, message and format on all social media. It would be like running print ads on the radio. Understand how to speak Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter before foraging into those woods.

AUTHENTIC to the promise: A brand gets to touch consumers along multiple experiences. Your brand promise has to be clear and you must reinforce that commitment in your posts or tweets.  If your brand promises a certain tone or tenor, social media can amplify it to spread the message.

Consumers Don’t Care
Brands emblazoned on products are shortcuts to help the consumer quickly connect with your products or offerings. Like water added to Jameson, you have to be careful not to dilute the value you want to build. 

But don’t be fooled into thinking the consumer cares about the brand. They show up to satisfy emotional needs that often are about belonging to a community of common interests.

What community does your brand serve? 


Need a marketing coach? You can hire me through Clarity to provide advice about marketing for your new product, business or service. I donate 100% of your fee to charity. So far I have donated almost $525 to Charity: Water working in my spare time. 

Just follow the link for some Clarity

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,