The three steps theorised by Jacque Séguéla in the ‘90 – the ones I have called “TO HAVE”, “TO BE” and “TO DESIRE” eras – don’t seem to me enough to cover all the tranformations that have occurred over time in the relationship among marketing, the “brand” concept and the consumers’ role, so I have added another phase, the latest. Today I write about the “TO EXPERIENCE” era of branding.
If the transition from the operative marketing approach to the strategic marketing approach has been quite a big change, the real revolution, however, came when Philip Kotler conceptualised the holistic marketing approach. The starting point has been the philosophy of “listen-and-answer” that seems to transform the focus on market orientation to the one on customer orientation – a customer that for this reason has been studied always deeper – and provides that both strategic landscape as values created for the brand have to completely permeate the environment and become part of the client referring system of values.
With holistic marketing, the core is no longer on selling a product, but it is on building up an experience that can answer the needs of consumers and at the same time be coherent and respectful of his referring system of values. To obtain that result, the holistic marketing approach foresees four different dimensions:
- relationship marketing, the dimension specialised in analysing the consumers and their needs
- internal marketing, the area created to assure that all stakeholders believe in the brand system of value
- integrated marketing, the responsibility of communication, style and message coherence in every used media, ATL and BTL
- socially responsible marketing, the real innovation of this approach, the dimension related to ethics, law, values etc. that monitors the respect of the social, cultural and economic contexts in which the brand is operating
The holistic approach to marketing obviously changes also the branding approach: no more stars or myths, but something to identify with what stimulates emotions, that is prolonging the individual’s perception beyond their five senses, a “brand experience” with and empathetic approach to answer to the question “How does it make you be?”/ What does it make you?”. It is based on reputation, sharing of information and experiences, interaction.
The consumer is finally perceived as having reached his full maturity, he is considered a “stakeholder”, he plays the role of “prosumer” [producer + consumer] actively participating in the definition of the concept of brand, in product/service production [ex. user generated content] and in their communication [ex. word of mouth].
The “brand experience” is born from the need to make more flexible the brand concept in relation to the essential listening dynamics: brands have the need to adapt, to respond to their target, but without losing their distinctive characteristics, being original and creative while remaining consistent in theirselves.
At the same time, while the idea of self brand reverses itself because people now choose brand according to their personality and characteristics modifying the brand’s attributes, the same concept extends including individuals among brands: here it is the personal brand, the idea that people can think of themselves as brand using the same media and strategies of a company to communicate themselves and their values.
Next wednesday, a focus on targets: you will find it useful, I promise! 😉