Feb 21, 2022

How brands can mimic leaders to succeed

Walmart, Kraft Heinz, Tyson Foods, Samsung, Toyota, and Best Buy. All of these brands share one common thread. By the end of 2021, they had successfully leveraged their brand and excelled at a time when most brands struggled to make an impact.

How brands can mimic leaders to succeed
So how did these brands make the right moves at the right time? The answer is simple: they had the insights necessary to adapt to the changing market landscape. 
Integrated insights are a powerful tool for brands looking to develop a unique point of view. Access to the right data helps brands stand out from the competition, identifying patterns that competitors simply can’t see. Beyond that, brands can monitor how consumer behavior continues to evolve, as well as how it impacts their brand.
Understanding how to navigate a post-pandemic market is vital to the continued growth of your brand, which is why we’ve developed a few best practices that we’d like to share. 
Make no mistake, implementing all these practices can quickly become a complicated process for any brand. That’s why NielsenIQ's Winning Brands® was built to help brands increase sales, grab market share, create loyal consumers, and build brand resonance to achieve these goals. Developed with marketing and consumer behavior experts, here’s how your brand can win using the Winning Brands® model.
Align your brand with the category dynamics
Before focusing on your brand, it’s important to consider your category dynamics. As a thought experiment, imagine you were managing a growing brand with declining category relevance. 
Cereal brand X is still maintaining equity and sales, but more consumers are substituting with muesli which is seen as a healthier option due to significant health concerns. 
Knowing this, what should cereal brand X do? To address these concerns, the brand could strengthen its positioning on healthy options and even consider an extension of its product line to adapt to the changing consumer market.
Before you can make an informed decision, there are certain important questions to consider if you want to adapt to the needs of the market:
  • What factors influence the purchase decision?
  • How are shoppers being activated? 
  • What triggers are shaping their choices? 
There are a number of potential triggers or factors that can influence the purchase decision, some of the most common include: 
  • Previous experiences
  • Word of mouth or product reviews
  • Sales promotions including price discounts, sampling, gift with purchase, or free shipping
  • Special displays in stores or product displays on e-commerce websites
  • Packaging
  • Availability of a new brand or variant
  • Out of stock situations 
To better understand that we have to discuss consumer decision-making. Consumers develop mental heuristics (what we call “Omega Rules”) to simplify brand decisions in complex environments. 
However, certain stimuli can lead consumers to reappraise these rules (what we call “Delta Moments”). It is in understanding these Delta Moments that we can both identify these triggers and use them as opportunities to influence the consumer. 
Next, establish your brand’s growth trajectory by ensuring that your brand equity is in sync with sales. If it is not in sync, determine whether your brand is under- or over-leveraged and take the necessary actions. 
Being able to properly evaluate the unique factors that influence consumer decision-making can have a massive impact on your relationship with consumers. By understanding your market landscape using integrated insights, your brand will be prepared to identify and implement brand solutions quickly and efficiently. 
Connect with the modern consumer 
After working with top brands across multiple categories, we found that brand saliency and familiarity matter, with strong brands having 3–4 times more top-of-mind brand awareness and being considered by at least 50% more consumers. Hence, it’s crucial to ensure you are on top of consumers’ minds by consistently communicating a relevant message that they resonate with. 
Brand resonance can be determined through either personal resonance or cultural resonance. When personal resonance comes into play, brands need to be aware of resonance attributes like emotional vibrancy, interdependency, and intimacy. With cultural resonance, brands should keep attributes like cultural bedrock, role resonance, and multivocality in mind. 
The modern consumer behaves very differently today. Previously, the brand identity of a business was mainly created by marketers. Today’s consumers co-create this identity based on how they experience the brand. Their relationship with the brand is determined by a variety of factors such as:
  • What they know (i.e., their thoughts towards a brand and message relevance)
  • The people using it (i.e., their sense of community and belonging associated with a brand)
  • How they feel (i.e., their reaction to the brand's events and interactions) 
  • Whether it is consistent with the brand voice, across channels, and whether the brand is engaging their senses 
With all these added factors in play, it’s clear that measuring brands on how effective they are in delivering functional and emotional benefits alone provides an incomplete picture of the brand’s resonance. 
It is essential to determine if your brand is reflecting and reinforcing consumers’ values, life experiences, and culture as these attributes provide a deeper connection between brand and consumer. They play a significant role in the creation of brand equity. 
Provide an exceptional brand experience and activate your market through touchpoints 
Strong equity needs to be supported by solid brand execution to drive sales and obtain a more substantial market share. Ultimately, this leads to brand growth and success, and we have validated this relationship across fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), telecommunications, banking, and automotive manufacturers.
That being said, certain marketing factors can impede the performance of all brands, including those with strong brand equity. To ensure that you maximize your brand equity, consider focusing your efforts on these 5 elements of brand experience. 
To reinforce equity and ensure long-term share growth, it’s crucial that your brand offers superior, relevant products to consumers. This is important because consumers' priorities and purchase preferences have changed in recent years, with more emphasis on product quality, country of origin, and health. 
Product offerings must resonate with the current and future landscape. This might sound straightforward, but the products should always meet or exceed expectations. Presentation is equally important. 
If you’re in the FMCG market, packaging plays an important role in ensuring your product gets consumers’ attention and primes them to have a positive perception towards the product. In other words, if it looks good, they’ll assume it must taste good.
When it comes to placement, products should always be accessible, and particularly in the FMCG market, they should always be visible on shelves. With many manufacturers struggling with supply chain issues, this may not always be possible.
Leaders are combating these issues by ensuring they have a digital and autonomous omnichannel supply chain to provide additional avenues to purchase for shoppers.
Without a well-built omnichannel supply chain, brand equity will pull consumers to empty shelves with no alternative route to purchase their trusted brand. 
In addition to building an omnichannel supply chain (which may be difficult in some countries), brands can improve their positioning on shelves and the impact of their shelf presence through stand-out packaging, displays, and in-store graphics. 
Friction is the enemy when it comes to placement, so the products should be available from wherever your target consumer finds it easiest to shop. Manufacturers should optimize their product distribution to ensure that their products are accessible in the most-needed categories.
Where price is concerned, brands need to deliver their product promise at a price which is at par with consumers’ expectations. Transparency and consistency in pricing are crucial aspects of providing consumers with an exceptional brand experience.
Activate consumers through memorable ads and impactful promotions. By understanding the category rules and triggers, marketers can prioritize the touchpoints. This can be done either pre-store through advertising and buzz or in-store through packaging, pricing, promotions, and merchandising.
If your brand shoppers are shopping mainly on autopilot, price promotions should be minimized as it may be more effective to invest in advertising or other building brand efforts. Promotions should provide a noticeable change from the standard offering and provide a compelling choice to consumers. 
Additionally, promotions are a good way to drive awareness for new brands or variants and thus, boost sales in the short term.
Your brand’s direct relationship with consumers shouldn’t be overlooked. Find unique ways to enhance your customer experience and fulfill your brand promise to cultivate positive word of mouth. At the end of the day, the consumer is your strongest advocate, and nurturing that relationship can be massively beneficial to brands looking to improve their brand resonance and brand equity.
Executing each of these solutions at scale can prove challenging, even for well-developed brands. That’s why Winning Brands® was designed as NielsenIQ’s Brand Health Measurement and Management solution, providing the relevant market insights to navigate your brand for sustainable growth. It encompasses a suite of modules that address all brand research needs, from simple tracking to in-depth brand reviews.
You can learn more about our Winning Brands® product here.
Author: Jacqueline Lew, Executive Director and Global Consumer & Brand Health Practice Lead, Consumer Insights Product Leadership, NielsenIQ


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