Retail Executive

SEP-OCT 2017

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Immersive Brands: The Highest Level Of Brand Equity As the connection between retail and brands strengthens, retailers must be aware of how immersive brands influence and foster customer loyalty. C H A S H E R M A N N Retail Executive Consultant and the customer. Brands operating at a functional level behave more like commodities and are forced to compete in literal terms, usually on price and convenience. Functional brands often compete to get customers to "like" their brand and usually operate in highly crowded catego- ries, making these products and services more easily substituted for one another. Not surprisingly, these brand types rely heavily on marketing and advertising — running promotions and discounts on their prod- ucts and services. These brands might not be all that exciting and mainly focus on fulfilling basic customer needs. The important thing is these brands must be re- liable and consistently deliver on the functional needs of the customer. INSIDE THE EMOTIONAL BRAND The next brand level is an emotional brand, which goes hink about all the brands you come across in your lifetime — brands you see and use every day. They can be viewed in one of three categories or brand levels: ▶ FUNCTIONAL: brands that compete on "what" the customer gets, very much like a commodity ▶ EMOTIONAL: brands that compete on "how" they make the customer feel ▶ IMMERSIVE: brands that connect so deeply with the customer they help define "who" you are and, more importantly, what you believe in, often becoming a badge of honor, creating a cult-like following of like-minded people living similar lifestyles The higher the level a brand reaches, the greater the bond and deeper the relationship the brand enjoys with the customer. DELIVERING ON THE CONSUMER'S FUNCTIONAL NEEDS Think of the three levels as like the brand, love the brand, and live the brand. As the pyramid illustrates, the three brand levels build upon one another, with ev- ery brand having a functional foundation by which it delivers its product or service to the customer. A ma- jority of brands move up a level and connect with cus- tomers emotionally, eliciting feelings that differentiate their brand's functional offerings. Some brands are able to reach the highest level of branding, connecting to a set of beliefs their customers hold to become an important part of their lives. Looking a bit deeper into each brand level, we can better understand how brands operate at each level and how the focus might change as brands progress up the pyramid. To be successful, every brand and busi- ness must be able to satisfy a customer's basic func- tional needs with its product or service and, as a result, establish a very logical connection between the brand T 3 LEVELS OF BRAND CONNECTION Logical left brain Emotional right brain more less more less Immersive [who you are] Emotional [how you feel] Functional [what you get] RETAILEXECUTIVE.COM SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017 32 BRAND EQUITY Innovation By C. Hermann IMMERSIVE BRANDS: THE HIGHEST LEVEL OF BRAND EQUITY

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