WE Buchan Brands in Motion

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Today, WE Buchan presents a new study titled ‘Brands in Motion’, which explores how brands are in a constant state of motion, relative to the environment around them, their stakeholders, and technology. To achieve business success, brands must create deep connections at an emotional and rational level with customers, in order to thrive and create positive momentum in an ever-changing marketplace.

Rebecca Wilson, CEO of WE Buchan, said: “For brands to compete, they must accept that positioning is dead and they need to understand the forces propelling them forward. Brands must build strong emotional and rational connections with consumers, and embrace the motion around them – not fight against it.”

Unlike brand positioning, which assumes a static view of consumer perceptions, brand motion takes into account the influence of broader environmental factors and underlying consumer expectations. WE’s study exposes four realities that businesses can harness for the mutual benefit of brands and stakeholders.

Do realities bite?

The study was conducted across Australia, China, Germany, South Africa, the U.K. and the U.S. to examine both the rational and emotional drivers that motivate customer choices within today’s environment — to decipher brand movement relative to the geography, industry and key stakeholders. The four critical realities that emerged from that data include:

REALITY 1: STABILITY IS AN ELEMENT OF MOTION. Despite all the rapid change at the environmental level, there is a high number of consumers that believe brands are capable of providing stability in uncertain times: 83 percent of respondents in Australia, (90 percent in China, 66 percent in Germany, 90 percent in South Africa, 75 percent in the U.K. and 81 percent in the U.S.) said they believed brands can provide stability — creating a huge opportunity for brands to step up and offer new value to customers as a stabilizing force.

REALITY 2: CUTTING EDGE IS TRANSCENDENT. The WE study also found a high correlation between brands that are viewed as cutting edge, also being loved versus hated, seen as out for the common good versus doing harm, and viewed as a pleasure versus a misery to do business with. This connection strongly suggests that being cutting edge — whether enabled by technology or inspired by it — leads to positive brand outcomes in areas that transcend product.

REALITY 3: THE UNILEVER EFFECT. Across all six markets, half or more of surveyed consumers – and 69 percent in Australia – said they placed a balance on brands delivering highly effective, high-functional benefit products and services but also taking an active position on issues that provide long-term social value. Consumers increasingly expect brands to take a stand on important issues, especially if in direct conflict with their core values as an organisation. This is almost equally weighted in purchase decisions.

REALITY 4: LOVE YOU TODAY, SHAME YOU TOMORROW. Out of all six brand categories surveyed across Australia, just over half of the people (54 percent) said they loved the industry; however, roughly three out of four people said they would gladly join in publicly shaming that industry if it stepped out of line. Therefore, brands today must build stronger emotional connections with consumers to keep customer loyalty — especially in times of crisis.

Motion Matrix

WE developed a matrix to help brands understand and manage these realities and the larger environmental factors in play. The Motion Matrix is a diagnostic tool that uses rational and emotional scores to capture the movement of categories and brands against four quadrants.

“Brands need to move away from the idea of static positioning, and instead focus on their motion,” said Alan VanderMolen, President International & WE+. “Only by understanding and capitalizing on the forces of moving around them can brands turn that into a positive force. WE’s Motion Matrix gives brands a way to identify and adjust to meet this motion head-on.”

WE Motion Matrix

Would consumers care if your brand disappears tomorrow? Will they publically shame you if you screw up? Will they forgive you? Do they see you as a misery or a pleasure to do business with? By understanding consumer mindset through the lens of motion, WE’s new Motion Matrix allows brands to not only see where they land, but get prescriptive guidance on what they can do to move.

Those that score high in both emotional and rational drivers are Movers — a brand or category that has found the right balance of emotion and rational thoughts. They’ve learned to harness their own motion and the motion around them, but have to keep pushing and continue to find what’s next. In Australia, the Computing Devices and Tech B2B categories fell into this quadrant, which was in-line with all other markets aside from the UK.

High in rational but low in emotional drivers are Defenders. They may be selling commodity, low- margin/high-value products and services or be part of highly regulated industries, i.e. the Finance/Banking category in Australia. Many companies that fall here might be satisfied with being a Defender, but due to a low emotional connection, risk losing customer support in times of crisis. If they want to shift, they need to start engaging with consumers and find the love.

Low rational and high emotional scores fell into the Agitators quadrant. These are the game changers, wooing consumers into what’s possible through high experience and engagement. It’s no surprise that the Smart Home category found itself in this quadrant in Australia, with brands like Google and Amazon aggressively pushing their smart home products in 2017. This was in contrast to China, who already see the Smart Home category as a Mover. Agitators may be “annoying” movers with the strength of their emotional connection with consumers, but they have to prove accessibility and everyday benefit to lend credibility to their brand/category.

A Survivor scores low in both emotional and rational drivers. These brands have either just pulled through something big or are on the precipice of needing to. In Australia, the Health/Wellness and Healthcare B2B categories landed here, which was a similar result across the other six markets surveyed. Survivor brands and their categories need to get laser focused on how to turn motion into an advantage for them — be ready to move fast to reach people on a rational and emotional level to move their brand to a leading spot in the industry — or risk becoming irrelevant.

WE’s Motion Matrix gives a lens through which to view motion, not only at the brand and category level, but at the geographic level as well. The study revealed vastly different consumer mindsets in the six markets surveyed, with Australian consumers being cautiously optimistic, compared with Chinese consumers who are much more optimistic, and the United States and United Kingdom who have a much more skeptical outlook.

The Matrix will give brands much stronger guidance on how to pivot their marketing and communications efforts to account for the prevailing mood of the Australian market.

About Brands in Motion

WE partnered with YouGov to field the Brands in Motion survey in six countries among general public and B2B decision-makers. The benchmark was conducted in two waves: first in April 2017 in the U.S., U.K. and China, and second in July 2017 in Australia, Germany and South Africa. It was designed to target a minimum of 3,000 consumer interviews and 1,000 B2B decision-makers per country with an average of 300 ratings per brand. It looked across eight categories and 30 brands within each geography. Not all categories were surveyed in smaller markets. It also captured key demographic data to be able to plot the results against, including generation, gender, education, income, parent/nonparent, region, employment status, marital status and race/ethnicity.

The eight industry categories included Computing Devices, Smart Home, Automotive, Finance, Health & Wellness, and Alcoholic Beverages. The last two were among the B2B audiences: Technology Solutions for Business and Healthcare Solutions Providers.

The research complements the agency’s Stories in Motion pilot study released in November 2016. For more information, visit www.we-worldwide.com.


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