Commentary

Apologetic Marketing: The New Brand Promise

One of the biggest challenges brands face is meeting customer expectations. Brands face increasing competition in the marketplace and must create a sense of uniqueness since a “one-size-fits-all” marketing approach no longer works. 

For instance, Baby Boomers’ shopping habits are different than Millennials; Boomers really don’t like to shop, have access to more disposable income, can make purchases without looking for bargains in-store, and would rather go to a local retailer for the customer experience. This is the opposite of Millennials and Gen Z, who enjoy fast service and often make decisions based on online reviews. 

This one-to-one marketing allows you to learn about your customers and their habits, and will make them feel special.

What happens when brand trust is broken?

Brand authenticity is extremely important. Making sure customers know they are valued is just as important as the products and services you sell. If that trust is broken, it can takes years to win back and costs twice as much to regain lost customers as it does to keep loyal ones. It’s crucial for brands to reach out when there is a bad experience, but when trust is betrayed by misuse of sensitive information, it’s much harder for a brand to regain that trust back.

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Take for example, Facebook. After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Mark Zuckerberg placed an ad in the Wall Street Journal to apologize and launched a TV campaign called “Here Together” with the hopes of reconnecting people to the brand and community. Uber also faced similar problems after the exposure of personal data hack, but recent improvements and a new CEO helped the company start gaining back consumer trust.

Compare this to Wells Fargo, which continues to make missteps. Last year, it created millions of accounts without customers’ consent, forcing them to make refunds to customers and pay a total of $185 million in fines. Yet, in July, more snafus were revealed, resulting in a decrease in profits, credit card accounts and opening of checking accounts. Needless to say, consumer confidence in Wells Fargo is at an all-time low. 

What you can learn from brands that treat their customer’s right?

Sephora, Starbucks and Amazon have some of the best reward programs on the market. Sephora offers bonus points events and VIP rewards, Starbucks has double-star days and half-off drinks in the afternoon, and Amazon Prime gives you next-day delivery that no other retailer can offer. These brands keep their customers loyal by providing great customer experience.

When people have a great experience, they remember it. A positive experience is the core of what makes a loyal customer, but loyalty isn’t something you buy; companies have to earn it. CEOs and senior management should take an active role to ensure customers are treated with respect and honesty, and put their interests before profits and margins. 

At the end of the day, the most valuable asset brands have are their customers. Brands must go above and beyond to meet, if not, exceed customer expectations.

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