There’s ample evidence to suggest brands don’t always listen to consumers the way consumers would like. Customer service breakdowns and miscues can’t help but erode the work of brand managers and CMOs.
DISH Network, Wells Fargo, DirecTV and Spectrum have shown up on lists of brands with the highest share of negative responses to customer service.
We each have our own list of what we consider to be tone deaf brands. But at what point do our expectations cross the line from reasonable to the outlandish?
When it comes to marketing messages, either from brands we’re ambivalent toward or where we harbor strong feelings, what happens with our engagement?
I recently asked Nielsen CMO Jamie Moldafsky to share her perspectives.
Paul Talbot: What types of needs do consumers expect brands to understand?
Jamie Moldafsky: Consumers increasingly expect brands to understand a lot about them, particularly as they share more information. This includes their shopping behaviors, their attitudes, their needs and their interests. They expect this understanding at a product or service level but also in the broader context of what’s going on in their lives.
Marketers have always bore the responsibility of forging connections with consumers, but the past two years in the pandemic have posed an array of new challenges and opportunities. Brands have to balance their understanding of consumer needs with an increasingly nuanced sensitivity about the environment at large and an appreciation of the unchartered world that consumers continue to be navigating.
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In the early months of the pandemic, many brands pivoted to focus on health and safety, and consumers welcomed it. A Nielsen survey found that 90% of Americans expressed favorability toward companies that prioritized well-being in their messaging.
Going forward, marketers must remain responsive to the dynamic environment, but also reflect additional emerging expectations. For example, consumers are increasingly expecting brands to 1) support social causes and 2) show more diversity on-screen, both in ads and in the content that surrounds the ads.
Talbot: When you look at ad avoidance, do you see a growing problem for marketers or much the same degree of challenge as has always been faced?
Moldafsky: I wouldn’t necessarily say there’s more ad avoidance now than before and the more relevant the content becomes, the less avoidance there should be. It is a reality though that the vast array of media platforms and services make it tricky for advertisers to develop strategies to engage with their target audiences.
One example we highlight in the new Nielsen Advertiser Playbook is that ad-free experiences are available, for a price, for audiences. In the absence of relevant and engaging ads, opting out through these experiences can be very appealing to consumers.
Consider the impact of connected TV (CTV) ownership and engagement, which now reaches 142 million adults in the U.S. each week. Streaming video consumption has also dramatically increased the past two years, and more than half of that viewing involves ad-free subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) content.
But the lack of ads in SVOD doesn’t mean advertisers should give up in their media planning. Product placements and brand integrations in video content influence consumer purchase decisions very effectively.
Talbot: Any other insights on marketing strategy you’d like to share?
Moldafsky: Marketing strategy is as critical as ever, as is the data and insights that inform it. The proliferation of media platforms and devices means consumers have more choices of where they engage and content proliferation means they have almost unlimited choices of what they engage in.
Marketers must be more focused than ever on their target market, the desired behaviors and an increasingly real-time understanding of what works and doesn’t.
Marketers need to balance a mid-long term marketing strategy that reflects business strategy and growth goals, while managing tactics and promotion choices to optimize ROI in the short term.