In a world where consumers are increasingly savvy and multi-channel enabled, grabbing (and holding) their attention has never been trickier. Today’s landscape demands a simpler, more fluid and customer centric approach from brands. One that tells stories rather than sells statements; that welcome audience involvement, rather than trying to control and importantly one that embraces technology.
Siegel+Gale’s second annual Global Brand Simplicity Indexhighlights the positive impact that technology can have within the brand experience. It demonstrates how as a growing, worldwide consumerist culture interacts and intersects with technology; both the sector and the brands with a technology focus are rising to the top of the index.
Globally, more than 82 per cent of the surveyed 6,000+ respondents said that they’d be more likely to recommend a brand that provided simpler communications and experiences. In the UK, Amazon, John Lewis and Tesco all registered in the top five of more than 100 brands in the simplicity index trailing only global leader, Google. These brands have not only made use of new technologies, but also importantly they’ve recognised how it often represents the simplest route to the consumer.
A compelling 81 per cent of respondents globally see technology as a way to simplify their lives and the most successful brands are finding unexpected ways to reach their consumers across a number of touchpoints. For example, during the Christmas rush last year, John Lewis allowed customers to scan store items with their mobile phones, which then linked them to the company’s online ordering service. Tesco has also looked to make consumer life easier with the roll-out of a scan-as-you-shop handheld device.
PCs, email and mobile phones rank as the simplest technology for consumer to use while social media is seen as the least simple despite the extensive reach that Facebook and its some 500 million users provide. Using technology as a simplifier is not about doing everything, but about embracing the best technology for the brand, using it smartly and understanding what most benefits the consumer.
Simply throwing money online however does not represent a sure-fire route to success. BlackBerry for example ranked only 56th had made significant investment, whether in product development with its new Playbook.
For any brand uncertain about the rewards up for grabs, the Index estimates that as much as £2.8bn could be unlocked by businesses through a greater focus on simplicity. General insurance and retail banking stand to gain the most with £506m and £460m still “on the table”, respectively. Simplicity is more than a tool to secure unclaimed pounds. Our research shows that consumers are prepared to pay anything between 3% and 17% extra for a simplified experience and interaction. Restaurants and entertainment brands stand to gain the most through a clear strategy with consumers prepared to pay up to 5% more for simplicity.
A clearly defined range of products is also a sure-fire way to ensure that consumers get the message where it will come as no surprise that Apple lead the way.
“Simple can be harder than complex,” Steve Jobs once said. “You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end; because once you get there you can move mountains.” Apple has reaffirmed its position as a leading tech and mobile brand thanks to its ability to communicate clearly through a closely-knit portfolio of products that interlink seamlessly with one another. “Apple is clear about their products and what they do and what they stand for and in the end deliver what they promise,” one respondent told us.
The ruthless simplicity of Apple has allowed it to charge a premium for its products and made its products a desirable badge of honour for consumers, meaning simple equals status. By contrast, Panasonic was recognised by respondents as a company that spreads itself thinly across various disciplines and as a result found itself the middle of the pack, ranking 68th.
Ultimately, the more complex a brand’s relationship is with its consumers, the more difficult it is to cultivate consumer trust. Technology represents a valuable tool for brand to communicate and used properly can prove hugely valuable in enhancing the brand experience. The opportunity to simplify is significant and importantly, with a bit of effort and effectively applied technology. Clear, credible, and consistent communications will send the correct message, but to achieve success, brands must ensure that they apply technology to target areas that really make a difference to their customer’s worlds and enhance how they want to communicate.
The answer is clear, simplify your business and reap the benefits.