Connecting with Customers: The Importance of Being Responsive & Relevant
Many marketers who work with large brands will discuss the challenges associated with creating a connection with customers. From this perspective, it is not unusual to look at smaller niche brands or organisations who have the capacity to deal with customers individually, to create a unique bespoke experience, and bemoan that these factors are impossible to scale up. For example, tailors on Saville Row in London can use their expertise to co-create and craft a bespoke product for the customer, of which the experience is inherently personalised. Arguably, a large corporation in a similar (or unrelated) industry could not hope to achieve this kind of customer experience. On one hand, this logic is correct. Large organisations with huge sales and market share do not have the same types of capacity or resource to connect with each customer on an individual level in this way. However, this does not mean that big brands cannot forge a meaningful connection with customers. Quite the opposite in fact!
Marketing Expert Steve Challouma (Marketing Director, Birds Eye), at one of his presentations recently, indicated allocating 5% of his marketing budget to “Moonshots”.
He defines Moonshots as those moments when something unexpected happens in the world; whether it be in the press, on social media or to do with a celebrity.
It’s these moments that present an opportunity for a brand. These moments cannot be planned for, but if capitalised upon well, can have a huge impact on a brand.
Steve’s approach is that whilst you can’t plan these moments, you can build the possibility of them occurring into a plan, which allows for agility and flexibility in response if luck is on your side.
This approach of expecting the unexpected has served Birds Eye well. In May 2017 The Daily Mail ran an article criticising mothers who share stories of feeding their children frozen fish fingers on social media and branded them “slummy mummies”.
The birth of the #solidaritea campaign
Tea is also another word for dinner in the UK so this was a nice play on words. The #solidaritea campaign was very clever. It was fresh and defiant and tapped into a debate that manifested from a deeper trend. We have seen a huge rise in female bloggers discussing the realities of their experiences of motherhood. Some of these bloggers have huge followings, which indicates that they are speaking to, and for, a significant section of society. The article in the Daily Mail sparked a backlash that wasn’t about fish fingers per se but about what it means to be a woman in today’s society.
Representing wider issues that have been discussed at length around being a mother, a working mother, a stay at home mother, deciding to remain childless, being ambitious, finding fulfilment… the list goes on. We have been told to “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg and more recently that it’s not realistic to think we can have it all by Michelle Obama. Fish fingers became part of the Daily Mails narrative against the “Mummy Bloggers” and the article took the stance that a tired overworked mother who occasionally gives her offspring fish fingers for their dinner is somehow a “bad mother.”
The #solidaritea campaign
The #solidaritea campaign exemplified that being a mum is one of the hardest jobs of all and that they were proud that their products made things a little easier. The campaign demonstrated not only that they understand the role their products and brand can play in people’s everyday lives but it also tapped into the bigger macro societal issues at hand. Through this, they showed that they understand their customers and publically stood with them demonstrating their relevance. Quite the human touch for a big brand.
The #solidaritea campaign demonstrated not only that they understand the role their products and brand can play in people’s everyday lives but it also tapped into the bigger macro societal issues at hand. Through this, they showed that they understand their customers and publically stood with them demonstrating their relevance. Quite the human touch for a big brand.
The other part of this article is the issue of responsiveness, which is evident from the approach Birds Eye took with the #solidaritea campaign. This responsiveness is also important to customers. It’s an implicit way of showing a brand understands customers and societal issues – in other words, they “get it” from a customer’s point of view. Cynics will say this is just a case of brands jumping on a bandwagon and using societal issues for profitable means. At its core marketing is about delivering value to customers and that value can manifest in different ways. Backing the bloggers and showing sensitivity to a big issue in a timely fashion will have been meaningful to many customers. This campaign was about a connection with customers through the impact of storytelling and changing mindsets.
It’s important to acknowledge that it’s not always possible for brands to be immediately responsive. However, planning for the possibility of moonshots is effective. On the back of the #solidaritea campaign and its broader brand support programme, Birds Eye saw an increase in Brand Desire score from 10.5 in 2015 to 13.3 in 2017; a 24% increase in short term media ROI – and were ranked as the Top Buzz Improver in the Frozen & Chilled category in the 2017 YouGov Buzz rankings. More importantly, though, Birds Eye managed to speak to customers about a wider issue that is hugely relevant to one of their target segments. Through the relevance and timeliness of their responsive approach, Birds Eye managed to create a human connection and showed that they understand how they add value and fit into customers lives.