Activating a brand's total experience across the entire journey

The Art of Buying Well 
Thought Leadership: Jon Hamm, Global Chief Creative Officer
December 2017
 

By now it’s indisputable that the strength of a modern brand is built on having a clear vision of a brand’s “total experience,” and then activating it across the entire journey.

But more than this, it’s also no longer enough for a brand to speak only of the positivity they hope to create, they must also actually deliver a consistent sense of positivity in every experience people have with them. Put simply, actions speak louder than words.

There is only one way for a brand to achieve this.

They must have a “people first” vision. People’s needs, wants, emotions and cultural context are in the driving seat and must take priority. Only by allowing people to “drive” can every moment – good or bad – be made better. Striving to make every moment better should be hardwired into the DNA of modern brands. However, there is one moment that is more important than any other.

This is the moment of buying.

This is the moment where we commit and our expectation for our relationship is moved. It is the moment where we set the agenda for the future together. We move from dating to mating. When brand equity is transformed into brand value.

Like Superman, this moment has great power and can unlock the greatest value in any brand. Ignore it and brands risk turning this power on themselves, it can be a brand’s kryptonite.

To unlock this power, brands must aspire to create moments of “buying well.”

What is buying well and how can brands achieve it?

Buying well is hard to define, because in truth, it’s a feeling.

You know that feeling you get when you buy something and it just feels right? When the reasons you bought it, the need you have, the benefits of the product and the customer service all align to leave you feeling good with the decision you made?

That is “buying well.” Cultivating “buying well” isn’t easy. It is an art.

To inspire people to buy and then feel a deep satisfaction with their purchase, a brand needs to consciously activate and satisfy their rational, emotional, and experiential needs across four fundamental and diverse aspects of the buying experience:

1) Technology: There needs to be a total focus on the seamless integration of technology, particularly at the point of purchase. The greatest single barrier to buying well is too many passwords, tech platforms and registration requirements at the moment of purchase. Make the “smart tech smart” and put people at the center of it.

A good example of this is FARFETCH. On entering their ‘Store of the Future’ customers can check in with the app, sharing their browsing and purchase history with staff and, maybe most importantly, whether they like to be engaged with or left to browse undisturbed.

An RFID connected clothing rail recognizes any product picked up and adds them to the app, creating a wish list that can be browsed later, staff can also see it to recommend complementary products.

Customers can even stay in touch with store assistants via WhatsApp and ask for recommendations after leaving the store. Smart!

2) The utility and relevance of activation at the pivotal moment. With every purchase decision we make, there is one moment that is more pivotal than all the others. This pivotal moment is the tipping point when we move from thinking to doing.

Understanding what is happening at this moment, what our needs are and what the opportunity is for the brand to do something that is totally aligned with our needs is vital. It is absolutely not about brands being in “Sell! Sell! Sell!” mode but about understanding what is needed to change our behavior and nudge us into making a purchase. It is at this pivotal moment that the need for a brand to be “people first” is most vital.

We see this behavioural approach a lot in ideas that try to change the world: get people to eat healthier, stop violence, or drive safely to name a few. Can it also be used for commercial purposes?

3) The post purchase customer experience across owned and 3rd party platforms. When we buy, our relationship with a brand has just begun. Like any good relationship, brands need to keep working at it. Social media has facilitated and amplified this moment.

There is enormous power in the post purchase experience to amplify and echo the moment of buying.

Nespresso gets this implicitly. The perceived waste generated by the capsule had the potential to become a barrier to purchase. However, Nespresso’s response in setting up a recycling service and then delivering on this with vigor at every moment turned this potential barrier into a source of positivity.

4) The 3rd party retailer / e-tailer experience. It’s surprising how often this is overlooked. Brands need a detailed understanding of their retailers, their archetypes and their complete ecosystems – both digital and physical – to reveal where and how a brand is bought and whether our activation within that context is aligned.

The fashion industry does this perfectly. At one end the highly immersive, rich experiential brand expression in flagship stores, at the other end a simple but still strong brand presence in everything from GTR to department stores to online. They manage to stay true to their own archetype whilst reflecting and referencing the archetype of the retail environment they are in.

In summary, whilst it is true that a brand’s “total experience’ is of great importance in the modern world, exponential growth can be unlocked by focusing on and inspiring “buying well.”

Buying well must be the most important objective for any modern brand. It is the most important moment because it can define a brand’s lifetime relationship with a person and unlock it’s full potential.

 

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