Loyalty Engagement Index Finds Massive Gaps Between Expectations & What Brands Deliver
Brand Engagement = Category Leadership
“’Brand engagement’ is how well a brand is able to meet expectations consumers hold for the path-to-purchase drivers in a category,” said Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys. “Those drivers and expectations come in the form of a Category Ideal. Brands best able to meet consumers’ expectations for that Ideal generate greater loyalty and are profitable market leaders. Brands that can’t meet expectations lose customers and market share.
Retail Brands That Sold Engagement Best
This year the CLEI examined 83 categories and 740 brands, where brand engagement leadership shifted dramatically in 49 of those categories. In the retail category expectations have increased 24% over 2016. Retail sector brands have only kept up with that by 9%, leaving an enormous gap between what consumers want and what brands are seen to deliver.
Why Consumers Expect More
“The concept of brand engagement is pretty straightforward,” said Passikoff. “Consumers have an Ideal for everything; it’s the yardstick they use to measure brands. Defining your category’s Ideal is where it gets very tricky. The process is more emotionally-based than rational, so defining the Ideal and identifying what consumers expect from their Ideal has to be more penetrating and subtle than a 10-point scale,” noted Passikoff.
“It needs below-the-radar, psychological metrics,” said Passikoff, “Because today’s consumer does not behave as he says, he does not say what he really thinks, and he does not think what he really feels. Consumers talk to themselves before they talk to brands, hot-wired to social networking, which super-charges expectations. The result? Massive gaps between what people really want and what brands deliver,” noted Passikoff. “And confusion among marketers about what actually drives engagement.”
The Ideal describes the precise path-to-purchase drivers, describing how the consumer will view the category, compare brands and how they will engage with the brand, buy, and remain loyal. “Most marketers look at the world through a brand-lens,” noted Passikoff. “It’s their brand, after all. The consumer, on the other hand, looks through a category-lens and that dichotomy can create problems when marketers try to engage consumers with their brands.” Drivers are category-specific since consumers don’t buy Smartphones in the same way they buy Cosmetics or Pizza.
The four path-to-purchase drivers for the Smartphone category look like this:
The Pizza category, on the other hand, looks like this:
Values that fueled expectations most in the Retail Category included the following:
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