Brand campaigns are often designed to pound particular messages into consumers’ brains, sometimes to the point of exhaustion or annoyance. (Cases in point: Kaiser Permanente’s “Thrive” campaign, the subject of endless complaints here in San Francisco, or Dr. Pepper Ten‘s much-maligned insistence on masculinity.) But what if brands could, instead, figure out what consumers want and respond to that?
Mobile channels provide perhaps the most direct and immediate connection to consumers in context that marketers have ever had. Mobile interactions clearly offer more opportunity than ever for brands to listen to consumers–but are brands taking advantage of this in a consumer-aware way, or simply continuing to push out their own irrelevant messages? Let’s look at two recent marketing efforts to find out.
Taking Shopping to the Next Level
According to AdAge, Neiman Marcus is experimenting with NM Service (pictured), an iPhone app designed to assist shoppers with more personalized in-store service:
This use of mobile instantly enhances the consumer experience–by showcasing products that complement what’s already owned–when the consumer is ready to act (i.e., in-store). The experiment enables dynamic brand building for Neiman Marcus through a useful service that provides information the consumer needs.
Creating a New Broadcast Channel
Contrast this relevant suggestion with KFC’s Chicken Pot Pie Pandora station. Did consumers really clamor for this? Does anyone honestly want to experience the sounds of KFC? A better, more useful KFC promotion might have involved suggestions for side dishes to pair with your KFC buckets, a history of chicken pot pies, or–perhaps most realistically–a list of nearby drugstores where you can buy some Tums for your post-KFC experience. Still sort of silly, but at least a little more relevant.
KFC and Pandora have a limited connection. A partnership between the two may make sense promotionally, but not organically. One way to evaluate whether a brand promotion is truly useful is to ask whether it would evolve even if the brand didn’t pay for it. You can envision consumers creating and using shopping apps without Neiman Marcus intervening. It’s less far easy to envision a person creating a Pandora station dedicated to KFC.
It’s All About the Information
Studies have shown that information, rather than games, engages consumers more. Mobile makes it possible for brands to understand what information consumers want, and provide it immediately, dynamically building brand awareness and understanding in response to consumer preferences.
Mobile Marketer covers some great ways to use Pinterest for brand building, including taking advantage of context: “retailers could take advantage of location to serve up relevant, tailored content to users while on the go.” We recently explored the potential of Pinterest for product promotion and agree that it’s a great platform for informing consumers about brands.
So what’s the ultimate takeaway? Use mobile devices to listen to consumers and provide the information they need. That’s the best kind of dynamic brand building you can hope for.