September 2013 Trend Briefing:
Screw 'the customer is always right': these 'demanding brands' are taking the (painful) lead again.
If you don’t believe that the number one raison d’être for brands is to (profitably) help create a more sustainable, more ethical society – and that brands that ignore this imperative will regret it one day – then don’t read on.
For the rest of us: this month we bring you a full Trend Briefing on how ambitious, responsible brands are instigating daring changes in the relationships they have with their customers. Make way for DEMANDING BRANDS.
Switched-on brands that are embarking on the journey towards a more sustainable and socially-responsible future will demand that consumers also contribute. Even if that means some pain – financial or otherwise – for their customers.
From Pain to Respect
Yes, consumers will be surprised to find a brand making real, meaningful demands on their time, energy or wallet. Yes, they’ll feel the pain when it comes time to make their contribution. But ultimately, consumers will have deep respect for a truly DEMANDING BRAND: one that pushes them towards taking action that – while painful – they know to be right.
Indeed, being a DEMANDING BRAND might well be the only way there is left to earn the respect of consumers.
What makes for a meaningful DEMAND? Here are a few places to start:
The planet: DEMAND action that is good for the environment: right now, or in the long-term. Think reduce, re-use, recycle. Start by looking at the examples below of governments from LA to Manila DEMANDING environmental actions.
Society: DEMAND action that is good for other people. From friends and family to the broader community.
Lifestyles: Create products or services that DEMAND customers live healthy, or behave well. Check out the Kitchen Safe example below for inspiration.
Nonprofits: Make DEMANDS on behalf of an established nonprofit, and insist that customers do something to support them.
Truly DEMANDING BRANDS understand a few essentials:
NOT FOR EVERYONE
DEMANDING BRANDS, almost by definition, will alienate some people. But brands that back down at the first sign of resistance will simply come across as half-hearted, weak and uncommitted. And, given that even the biggest, most successful brands can’t satisfy everyone, best to just get on and do the right thing, before being made to.
SINCERITY IS EVERYTHING
Consumers aren’t going to take painful action at the behest of brands unless they believe in that brand’s vision of - and activities for - a ‘better world’. So any brand being DEMANDING had better be 100% transparent and be taking real, meaningful, painful positive action itself first. If that's too much, then stick to being a SERVILE BRAND ;-).
DEMANDS ARE NOT REWARDS
That means no money off, no added extras, no fun games with prizes. DEMANDING BRANDS don’t reward consumers for taking positive action. They DEMAND it as a condition of engagement. And while some brands might be unwilling to go all out and DEMAND action from consumers, many governments around the world are already moving ahead, especially in the environmental arena, as shown by the examples below. Something for brands that want to be seen as forward-thinking to consider.
ACTIVITIES SHOULDN’T BE ONE-OFFS
It’s one thing being temporarily demanding as a stunt to grab consumers’ attention, like the Casa do Zezinho example below, but quite another to make meaningful demands on an ongoing basis.
Ready? Then dive into the examples below for inspiration.
“91% of global consumers believe that companies must go beyond the minimum standards required by law to operate responsibly.”