Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The House Doesn’t Always Win, But Brand Does

 If you’ve turned into a news junkie since our most recent Presidential election, you probably noticed Las Vegas billionaire casino mogul Steve Wynn stepped down from his post as Republican National Committee finance chairman, a job for which he was handpicked by President Trump.

Wynn created some landmark Las Vegas playgrounds including the Bellagio, the Mirage, and Treasure Island that have become brands unto themselves.

But after dozens of women accused him of decades of sexual harassment, the company’s stock tumbled. He resigned from the RNC and as CEO of Wynn Resorts. From a business and political perspective it seems like the thing to have done. I mention that because questions have been raised as to whether the recent allegations have hurt Mr. Wynn’s “brand.”

The answers is “no.” Calling someone who happens to be famous (or in this instance, infamous) a “brand” is a misnomer. Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Wynn has a reputation he should be concerned about – clearly investors are – but he isn’t a brand, he’s a “founder.” Of – up til now – a very successful company but he’s not the brand. The hotels – now they’re the brands.

Las Vegas, where most of his hotels are located, now there’s a brand! And within the context of “brand,” Las Vegas is the “what-happens-in-Vegas-stays-in-Vegas” of brands!

Psychologists would suggest the concept of Las Vegas represents “freedom” for consumers that they won’t find elsewhere. And while the city has looked to create family-friendly zones, Disneyland it ain't! It’s booze and broads. It’s Sinatra and the Rat Pack. It’s the embodiment of the 1977 song “Sex and Drugs, and Rock and Roll.” And gambling. And chorus lines of scantily clad (and unclad) women. It’s hedonism and eroticism and simultaneously a pretext and justification for bad behavior. So what works for the Las Vegas brand, doesn’t work for Mr. Wynn. His business partners may now question his judgment and trustworthiness, but that’s “reputation,” not “brand.”

Because the reality is not everything you know is a “brand.”

And to be crystal clear, “harassment,” bad, fantasy and dreams, good.

For some additional perspectives we invite you to read Janet Morrissey’s New York Times column, “Steve Wynn’s Tarnished Name and Now a Tarnished Brand.”

Find out more about what makes customer loyalty happen and how Brand Keys metrics is able to predict future consumer behavior: Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about Brand Keys methodology, applications and case studies. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Politics And Hashtags Make For Strange Brand Bedfellows

As it’s President’s Day, it seemed appropriate to note how much Political Polarization and Tribalism and more fervent Social Activism Movements like #grabyourwallet, #MeToo, and #TimesUp have changed the face of brand engagement and consumer loyalty.

We noted these value shifts when examining the results of our Brand Keys 23rd annual Customer Loyalty Engagement Index. It turns out this is the first time since the Index was initiated nearly 25 years ago where basic tenets of consumer loyalty and engagement have been turned upside-down.

2018 winners included brands that maintained their category dominance: AT&T, Discover, Dunkin, Domino’s, Amazon, AVIS, Konica-Minolta and Hyundai.

New engagement opportunities were created for brands like Dropbox, WhatsApp, FOX, Dollar General, Spotify, Jack Daniels, Bugles, Instagram, Chapstick, and MSNBC.

This year the Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index examined 84 categories and 761 brands – from Automotive and OTC Allergy Medications to Computers, Fast-Casual Dining, Tax Preparation and Online Investing, Retail (of all types), Smartphones, Cable and Broadcast News, and Alcoholic Beverages, and a complete list of the Customer Loyalty Engagement Index’s 84 categories and winners can be found here.

How consumers view a category and how they will compare brands competing in that category changed dramatically in 94% of the categories tracked. That shift resulted in a brand engagement and loyalty transformations and an accompanying shift in brand leadership in 58% of the categories.

This year the top 5 sectors that showed the largest, overall shifts in category values and path-to-purchase dynamics were:
  1. Instant Messaging
  2. Retail
  3. Broadcast and Cable News
  4. Online Investing
  5. Social Networking
“Brand engagement” is still best defined as how well a brand meets the expectations consumers hold for the values that drive purchase behavior in a given category. But category political polarization and social activism have shaken those values to their core. If marketers think they knew what consumers’ “Category Ideals” looked like before, they need to take another hard look, because as of now consumers have an entirely new-view of what the is Ideal for them.

If marketers want their brands to succeed, knowing what’s Ideal from the consumer perspective is going to be a critical first step. More social networking isn’t going to cut it!

Survey Methodology

For the 2018 CLEI survey, 50,527 consumers, 16 to 65 years of age from the nine US Census Regions, self-selected the categories in which they are consumers and the brands for which they are customers. Fifty (50%) percent were interviewed by phone, thirty-five (35%) percent via face-to-face interviews (to identify and include cell phone-only households), and 15% online.

Brand Keys uses an independently-validated research methodology that fuses emotional and rational aspects of the categories, identifies four path-to-purchase behavioral drivers for the category-specific ‘Ideal,’ and identifies the values that form the components of each driver. These assessments are leading-indicators of consumer behavior, identifying such activities 12 to 18 months before they show up in traditional brand tracking or are articulated in focus groups.

The assessments measure how well brands meet expectations that consumers hold for each path-to-purchase driver. The research technique is a combination of psychological inquiry and statistical analyses, has a test/re-test reliability of 0.93, and produces results generalizable at the 95% confidence level. It has been successfully used in B2B and B2C categories in 35 countries.

Find out more about what makes customer loyalty happen and how Brand Keys metrics is able to predict future consumer behavior: Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about Brand Keys methodology, applications and case studies.