Deloitte LLP conducted research to learn how marketers can define and measure brand-fueled movements.
By: Diana O’Brien
Every marketer dreams of catching lightning in a bottle. It’s that moment when a brand—the product and the values it represents—becomes more than just a purchase. It spurs a movement, centers a community, and becomes part of people’s lives.
But true brand-fueled movements are usually rare as white peacocks and hard to deconstruct. What defines a brand movement, and how can marketers measure their success?
To explore the science of brand-fueled movements, Deloitte LLP conducted a wide-ranging review of published materials and interviewed marketing leaders from around the world. A panel of those experts then met at a Deloitte-hosted Marketing Incubator brainstorming session to delve further into brand movements and consider what makes them tick.
What Makes a Strong Brand?
According to Deloitte’s research, a brand cannot be a movement on its own, but it can help spawn a movement. This phenomenon usually happens at the point of intersection between a brand identity and a social trend, unmet need, or untapped passion. TOMS Shoes, for example, introduced a brand concept dear to founder Blake Mycoskie’s heart—buy a pair of shoes to fund a second pair for a person in need. Consumers who were moved by the cause embraced the concept and created the movement.
Similarly, Starbucks spawned a movement by crafting a brand that involved not just selling a cup of coffee but also offering customers a “third space”—a place to hang out, away from home and work. Starbucks’ customers, eager for connection in an increasingly mobile and transient world, showed up in droves to help create a modern coffee shop experience that is now deeply woven into the social fabric.
Only strong brands are likely to spur movements, and Deloitte research uncovered several characteristics that are essential for such brands. For instance, strong brands can inspire and evoke emotion. They also establish opportunities for customers and employees to become involved and empowered. Whether by joining American Express to #ShopSmall on Small Business Saturday or deciding to #OptOutside with REI, customers can actively participate in living the visions of the brands they support.
Another essential characteristic of strong brands is their ability to create and build virtual and in-person communities often focused on a common mission. Airbnb, for example, has created a community of travelers seeking not just a place to stay but a place that feels like home.
Great brands often provide a way for people to visually display their commitment.The Lululemon bag, the yellow Livestrong bracelet, and the Harley-Davidson jacket have become brand badges for proud, passionate customers—not just merchandise. Strong brands also demonstrate authenticity. When REI invited consumers to #OptOutside rather than shop on Black Friday, the chain put its money where its mouth is and gave its employees a paid day off work.
Beyond these basic brand characteristics, brand-fueled movements often include the following distinguishing elements, according to Deloitte research:
Provide purpose beyond the brand. Movements generally tie into a social cause or a community’s belief that it is contributing to a greater good. Unilever’s Dove brand has encouraged women to push back against a single arbitrary standard of female beauty with its “Real Beauty” campaign—now called the “Dove Self-Esteem Project.”
Promote cultural values. The Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders presidential campaigns of 2016 tapped into deep cultural and political attitudes and grew communities ultimately bigger than their candidates and platforms.
Deliver a strong call to action. In some cases, such as American Express’ Small Business Saturday, the brand serves as the enabler of the movement, providing opportunities for people to develop relationships and community.
Drive behavioral change. Brands at the center of movements, like Starbucks during its high-growth period, can help change mindsets and consumer behaviors.
Have enduring impact. Movements are more than short-lived fads—they live on in the hearts and minds of consumers and often have a lasting effect on society at large. A senior global brand development manager for a consumer goods company, citing Ben & Jerry’s and Nike, put it this way: “To decide whether it is a brand-fueled movement, ask yourself if you could make a documentary about this brand.”
In short, a brand-fueled movement is an enduring phenomenon that organically transcends the brand, involving and connecting customers with each other, the brand, and the movement itself. In a cluttered, fragmented marketplace, movements can build communities and mobilize people.
Measuring Success of Brand Movements
What metrics can help define and measure a brand-fueled movement? Marketers can look to the core financial metrics that define success: revenue, profit margin, and market share. Moving the needle on corporate performance is one undeniable outcome of successful brand-fueled movements. Companies can also consider marketing metrics. A brand’s ability to captivate customers, beyond sparking awareness and driving transactions, can be essential to fueling a movement today. TOMS Shoes, for example, encourages its customers to post photos on social media and now boasts more than 43,000 snapshots on its Facebook page.
Brands can track internal metrics, including employee retention rates and satisfaction ratings, to measure the success of brand movements. Brand purpose matters, especially to millennials. According to Deloitte LLP research, two out of three millennials say their organization’s purpose is a reason they choose to work there; in organizational cultures without perceived purpose, only one in five millennials is satisfied at work.
Finally, to measure the long-term impact of a movement, marketers can measure customer lifetime value using a tailored combination of data such as average spend per transaction, number of purchases per year, marketing costs, retention rates, customer lifespan, and profit margin.
All companies, regardless of industry, can work to build the warm, authentic, long-lasting emotional connections with customers that form the foundation of any strong brand and underpin all brand-fueled movements. Untapped opportunities exist for brands to capitalize on social trends and catalyze action beyond themselves. And if they play their cards right, they could find themselves at the center of a movement.
(Note: All articles are copied verbatim… typos, grammar errors and all. In other words, we didn’t make the mistakes! )
Link to original article posted on September 25, 2017 on the Wall Street Journal website.