Giving the Power Back: Putting Consumers in Control

Charlotte Evans

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    In an era where brand competitiveness is prevalent, successful brands, must be relentless in their efforts to strategically ignite their creativity and evolve their brand. It’s exciting when you think of brands battling for their share of the market and about the insights that must be driving each brands’ decisions.

    It’s certainly not difficult to identify brands that are conquering entire market segments, disrupting the norm of consumers’ consumption behaviour and ultimately, advocating customer-centric decision making; it’s fair to say, there’s no stopping these disruptive brands! While it may sound like no mean feat, the thrill of dissecting their success can uncover some easily implementable strategic actions, so, stick with me throughout this blog as I shine a light on some secrets to their success!   

    As a consumer, I’m constantly lured in by novel products/services and attracted to brands that boldly distinguish themselves from their competitors; whereas when it comes to research insight, I am allured into the data-driven insight which forms the DNA for many of these brands. However, for some of the globe’s most successful brands, there are long-held assumptions about what drives their success and although I could follow with a magnitude of factors that own up to this, there is a common denominator which stands tall amongst them all.

    This attribute is a brand’s ability to put consumers in the spotlight, hand over the mic and to capture their opinions; to summarise, they put consumers in control! Your initial impressions might be to err on the side of caution, but a whole host of brands have proven, that giving power to their customers unlocks a brand’s potential and enables them to dominate their market segment. So, with all of this in mind, lets kickstart your learning with some of the brands that (in my opinion) are doing this just right…

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    Giving power back to the consumers through market research unlocks a brand's true potential and provides a key opportunity for them to rise to the top of their industry.

    Community Co-creation

    You will know yourself, that consumers across the globe are constantly bombarded by brand content, and for many of us, we willingly let this content dominate our activities throughout the day. We follow our favourite brands on social media, subscribe to newsletters and actively support brands through micro-interactions such as likes, follows, referrals and reviews. With all of these behaviours ingrained within society, some brands have successfully harnessed these interactions to hand over the reins to consumers, allowing them to have a major influence over their brand’s decisions. So, how exactly does this contribute to their brands success?

    Well, consider brands such as Lego, who have effectively demonstrated this, through their Lego Ideas platform. This platform enables consumers to feel the excitement of being an innovator, designer or creator as they share their own submissions for new Lego construction ideas. The Lego Ideas platform entices Adult Fans of Lego (AFOL’s) as well as kids to collaboratively engage with one another which induces creativity as well as the continual development of new products that are relevant and popular. As a brand that celebrates collaborative co-creation, Lego is spearheading success that can be achieved by putting customers in control.

    Social Media Interactions

    Things start to get interesting when we consider brands such as Gymshark; a gym apparel brand that has effectively attracted tribes of athletes through their innovative product development. To understand their success, let’s rewind to the early stages of Gymshark’s product life cycle; when its founder, Ben Francis, mastered customer centricity by inviting key opinion leaders to join its ambassador programme.

    By doing so, these ambassadors, known as ‘influencers’, shared content on channels such as YouTube and Instagram featuring Gymshark’s hoodies and leggings. As a gold standard way of gaining exposure, it strategically targeted athletes which attributed to the growth in the number of new followers on Gymshark’s own social media channels and consequently, created a game-changer for their brand’s performance. And what’s more, the benefits of this strategy didn’t stop there! As one part to a whole, this strategy enabled Gymshark to access their platforms and directly ask customers, through polls, about product preferences and gym routines. The results from these polls inform many of the decisions behind Gymshark's new product development as they continue to serve customers with relevant and in-demand products.

    Brand Loyalty

    Our interactions with a brand can tell a lot about our personality, interests and even our personal values. So much so that, at times, we can become so captivated by a brand that we begin referring to ourselves as the brand itself. With a direct link to tribal consumption, consumers who exhibit tribal behaviours, as explored in our recent study, can lead consumers’ investment in a brand to influence their brand loyalty. Considering this, Nike is another brand that has strove to achieve the long-term rewards linked to putting customers in control by strategising through their very own tribes of consumers, known as Nike athletes.

    As a tribe of people who opt to wear functional Nike sportswear, Nike has successfully demonstrated impactful engagement with these athletes, through the optimisation of their Nike+ app. The app supports the recording of runners’ personal data, for tracking of personal sporting pursuits, as well as the sharing of data with other Nike athletes, which consequently, empowers consumers by giving them control of their activities. By doing so, the app encourages the co-creation of value between users and the Nike brand as it enables users to reach their personal running goals while also allowing Nike to access inadvertently controlled data through passive data collection.

    While there are plenty of brands effectively putting customers in control, you might still be hesitant and consider it to make little sense to do so. However, it’s worth harnessing your customers’ power to prevent the backlash that has been faced by brands in the past that didn’t choose this strategy.

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    A brand shouldn't hesitate to be moulded by their customers, but if they do, there are plenty of consequences that are showcased well by deteriorating brands who failed to pay heed to this tactic.

    To elaborate, Kodak is a prime example of a brand that failed, primarily due to not responding to their customers’ demand for digital technologies. With the rapid introduction of digital cameras, Kodak continued to hold firmly to their core competency of processing film, without responding to their customers’ changing needs. By doing so, a lack of consideration towards consumers’ needs/buying behaviours led to unexpected negative financial outcomes as the share price of Kodak dropped. Although since then, Kodak have been able to revive their brand by leveraging a current trend for polaroids and 35mm film cameras, it certainly taught Kodak some lessons about the importance of listening to customers in order to maintain relevancy amongst its customers and compete with competitors.

    Brand Strategy

    In short, that concludes my reveal of some of the tactics that have been strategically mastered by brands and have victoriously put customers in control. While I have also highlighted caution towards the backlash brands can face when customers aren’t put in control, I have uncovered that online communities, social media and trend analysis can each elevate a brand’s success. So, with an understanding of how to put customers in control to leverage your brand’s success, what are you waiting for?

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