Hidden Assets Can Increase Relevance, Fuel Growth

In a fierce battle for mindshare and relevance, old-guard companies look enviously at start-ups for clues that will deepen relationships with current customers and jumpstart their next growth spurt. But all too often, established businesses overlook their existing operational advantages and wealth of data. Digging deep into customer experience and mapping their journey can unlock a treasure trove of hidden assets. These, in turn, can deepen your relationships, become a springboard to growth, and drive customer advocacy — the ultimate currency in today’s connected world.

To kick-start your thinking, here are five examples of established companies rejuvenating their brand through their customer experience:

Ritualize small gestures  

What starts out as a sales tactic can become a key part of your brand’s DNA. While many brands give out samples to entice new customers or reward loyal ones — particularly in the beauty industry — Kiehl’s Since 1851 has made sampling a unique value proposition, both in store and online. During checkout, sales associates ask customers for special requests before pulling samples from an apothecary chest behind the counter. The routine itself authenticates the employees’ signature lab coats. No matter how small a purchase, this performance of pulling this-and-that completes a Kiehl’s shopping experience. 



Turn pain to gain

Looking forward to the monthly utility or cable bill? Didn’t think so. But brands like British Gas and Xfinity helped turn the bill — a universal pain point — into a catalyst for building trust. With an emphasis on transparency, design simplicity, human language and pivoting from what customers owe to demonstrating value, they increased customer satisfaction scores and dramatically reduced call volume to their service centers, recouping significant cost savings.

Make the ordinary extraordinary

Looking for the right fit is part of any shopping experience, and it’s never the most enjoyable. Victoria’s Secret spices up the hassle of trying on items by converting its dressing area into a glamorous clubhouse, complete with accommodating hosts. A plush sofa fills the center of the space. And “bra fit experts” glide between the rooms with measuring tapes and pink cards that record size and style preferences for customers to keep handy while shopping. By adding a personal element and physical takeaway to a retail “grudge practice,” Victoria’s Secret elevates its entire shopping experience. 

Embrace your brand voice and purpose

The Everlane team puts brand promise to practice at every point of its relationship with customers. From “Transparency Tuesday” — when fans can ask them anything via social media — to disclosing production costs for each of its pieces, the brand commits to its mission of “Radical Transparency.” Its succinctly articulated, actionable mission became a well of storytelling opportunities for the brand, accelerated by a changing social media landscape that increasingly values real-time documentation over static stylization. 

Seize on the unexpected 

Ikea reinforces its democratization of furniture with the Allen wrench and fool-proof, illustrated instructions, and, most visibly, its oversized tote bag that shoppers repurpose for all occasions. This past spring, Balenciaga scandalized the internet with a blue “Extra-Large Shopper” that looks nearly identical to the Ikea staple, though priced at $2,145. Far from calling foul, Ikea published a statement of deep flattery, along with a playful ad that casts its blue tote as “The Original” and reminds us of its $0.99 price tag. Building on this appropriation, Ikea’s inspired fandom created a series of personal hacks of its Frakta bag, including a bucket hat and Nike Air Force 1s.

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