by Bjorn Vandemeulebroucke..
Managing Director, Americas
Leading global brands are keen in deploying consumer education to break barriers, specially the toughest ones, relevance, credibility, and superiority. A successful brand advocacy program goes much beyond feeding product information to target. It rather demands a holistic and interactive approach. It starts with gathering relevant consumer insights, then letting those insights shape how we continuingly engage consumers. The goal must be to get them excited about testing the product and sharing their brand experience with peers.
In my role as managing director at The Insiders, the leading global influencer network, I have been privileged to partner with great global companies like Nestle, General Mills, P&G, Johnson & Johnson, Samsung, Phillips, among many others, to promote iconic brands such as, Purina ONE, Cheerios, Ariel, Neutrogena, Gear IconX, Airfryer, etc. In those experiences, I have heard again and again from our clients that The Insiders is the only touchpoint that has effectively identified and broke brand barriers for them.
Precisely, The Insiders break brand barriers by executing highly personalized consumer education activations that deliver measurable results. Our metrics are third-party verified—by IRi, IPSOS, and Nielsen—showing the value of our activations in ROI, market share growth, brand equity, and conversion of consumers from competing brands. An analysis of our last one thousand scorecards showed sales lift among new consumers varying from 9% to 33%, for instance.
Here are 5 key lessons we learned about breaking brand barriers through consumer education:
1. Engage: Create engaging brand educational materials
We believe in learning by doing. In one activation, our goal was to educate shoppers of a toddler formula brand in the UK. We wanted them to learn about children’s needs for Iron & Vitamin D to increase the relevance our client’s brand. For that end, we designed an interactive tool we called the Toddler Diet Diary. It allowed parents and caregivers to track the quality of their children’s nutrition. The interactive tool really paid off. As per IRi, the activation returned £3.04 for every £1.00 invested.
2. Customize: Measure and adjust along the way
Deploying a cookie-cutter consumer education activation will seldom result in engaged brand advocates. As we educate consumers, we track against a specific action and outcome at each stage of the trial, looking to further engagement. We recently did a multi-country activation for a pet brand inviting Insiders—members of our community—to participate in a challenge. Each stage of the challenge was informed and shaped by how Insiders behaved in the previous phase. At the end, 95% of Insiders reported finding the brand as good or superior to the one they previously used. They also indicated a purchase intention of 85%.
3. Simplify: Speak the language of the consumer
Brands in the consumer electronics industry are often challenged to articulate complex attributions in order to communicate their superiority. In an international activation for a smartphone brand, we had to simplify the message in multiple languages. We deployed one-on-one coaching to walk consumers through the benefits of the product. The result was impressive numbers in converting consumers from competing brands. In the U.S., for instance, we were able to sway 83% of the targeted shoppers to make the switch.
4. Entertain: Provide fun brand experiences
Learning can be fun. In our mission to turn consumers into brand advocates we actively look for ways to create emotional connections between brands and their targets. One way we like to do this is by having Insiders host lively brand parties at their homes. They invite their friends to test a product together, and then share their insights in a fun and Instagram-worthy experience. In an activation we executed for a vacuum cleaner brand in France, hundreds of Insiders hosted parties simultaneously, yielding thousands of targeted consumers in attendance. They generated over 500K online impressions and earned the brand 2 hits in the top Google search results, significantly boosting its SEO performance.
5. Stimulate: Give your brand advocate reasons to talk about your product
As we learn how our consumers feel about a product, we proactive create ice-breakers, conversation starters, and other talking tools to encourage them to talk about the brand with their peers. But it does not stop there. We execute intensive community management and personalized coaching to ensure Insiders get the right word out, to the right people. This tailored approach goes a long with the word of mouth ripple effect, especially when amplified by online reach. I can cite one example, in Brazil, where we executed an activation for a pantyliner brand targeting women, 18-24. Our one-on-one coaching delivered 78% purchase intention among Insiders who were familiar with the brand, 63% purchase intention among Insiders who were non-users, and 60% among Insiders’ peers.
Each brand is unique and faces barriers that are specific for each market in each consumer segment. Successful consumer education takes place when marketers are willing to deploy consumer-centric tactics that not only reach consumers, but engage them to nurture their relationship with the brand.
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