Servile Brands": a new approach to selling brands

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Or why simplify, serve, assist are the new sales approaches for brands. Consumers have never been so demanding, informed, in a hurry and saturated by the choices on offer. If a brand wants to prosper, the solution is simple: become SERVIVE. This goes far beyond providing good consumer service, because "servile" means transforming the brand into a lifestyle servant with the goal of responding to the needs, wishes and whims of customers, when they want it and wherever they are. Business opportunities or real innovation? 

The levers

There are three major changes that are transforming the needs of consumers and thus pushing brands or companies to become truly "servile":

- Demand: we have repeatedly revealed the growing number of Citysumers (urban consumers). Citysumers who are constantly looking for unique and exciting experiences available in modern hypercities. This is why they will seek or even demand "servile brands" - brands that empower them and offer them the freedom and flexibility to make the most of urban life.

With their always-on connectivity, they also want the best of the online world - instant information and immediate gratification - and to integrate it into their offline experiences. That's why Servile brands bend over backwards and do what they're asked to do ...

- The compression of time: The constant abundance and influx of materialism in modern consumer societies (even among consumers with financial difficulties) has created a growing sense that there is never enough time. A survey, conducted by the research company Datamonitor, found that 44% of consumers in fourteen countries say it is difficult for them to manage their daily tasks and find time to relax.

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No wonder consumers are asking for services and tools to help them take advantage of the present moment, which is getting shorter and shorter. This world of NOWISM means that brands need to satisfy consumer demand for instant gratification and ultra convenience. That's why Servile brands get to the heart of the matter and save consumers time. And those in every possible situation.

- Equals: here's the new reality: consumers will never worship brands as they once did. Only 47% of consumers worldwide say they trust paid media campaigns (TV ads in magazines and newspapers). 92% of consumers worldwide say they trust shared messages (word of mouth and referrals from friends and family) more than any other form of advertising, an increase of 18% since 2007.

Online consumer reviews are the second most influential form of advertising with 70% of consumers worldwide trusting them, an increase of 15% in four years. (Source: Nielsen, April 2012)

Only 29% of Brazilian, Chinese and Indian consumers say it's worth being loyal to their favourite brands. (Source: COLLOQUY and Epsilon's 2011 study on fidelity across cultures)

With more and more consumers turning to (and trusting) others, brands can no longer hope to maintain control over their brand. This is another reason to be Servile and put your customers' needs before your own.

The Examples :

1) Allow consumers to try before they buy

hyundaiboutique- Hyundai's online store: In May 2012, Hyundai Home Shopping presented its new mobile app, "H-Codi" . It is a "virtual coordination program for ready-to-wear" that uses Augmented Reality as a technology. Thanks to this app, consumers can virtually try on or test new products offered at Hyundai Home Shopping. For example, the smartphone camera scans a user's face or body and then presents images with fashion items such as a pair of earrings, a necklace or a handbag. This service is also available for interior design accessories and more; approximately 70,000 products are available. Photos can also be saved and shared via Cacao Talk (the Korean equivalent of WhatsApp) and Facebook.

 – Chevrolet Dealer Rescue Drive Campaign  To promote the launch of Chevrolet's Cobalt model, a Brazilian dealer, Orca Chevrolet, launched the Rescue Drive campaign in early 2012. The promotion targeted consumers who have had a car breakdown and therefore were certainly frustrated with their vehicle. Failed drivers who had called the participating breakdown companies were given the opportunity to take a test drive of the Chevrolet Cobalt.

manicuremarkspencer Mark & Spence's Virtual Manicurea: "Mark & Spencer's Virtual Manicure" is a service available in-store and on the UK retailer's website that allows customers to test nail polish on their fingers. Users download an image of their hands and click on a colour of nail polish to see what it would look like before buying it.

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2) Helping Consumers Monitor Anything

Think Blue from Volkswagen ChinaIn early 2012, Volkswagen launched its first mobile eco-consicence app in China. The "Blue Mobility" app is the first car app that measures and analyses users' driving behaviour in real time. The app then offers tips and tricks to minimise excessive fuel consumption.

babolatPlay and connect from Babolat The new Play & Connect tennis racket (due out in 2013), created by French brand Babolat, has built-in sensors that share real-time information on how the user plays. It is thus possible to know the speed of the serve, the power of each shot, the rotation of the ball and thus allows players to get feedback on their performance. Sensors integrated into the handle measure the type of shots and the position of the ball on the racket, allowing for analysis of technique and game statistics. The data is sent (via a wireless system) to a computer or smartphone, allowing users to view the data and formulate goals.

The Survival Guide to China The Survival Guide to China is a free iPhone app that measures food hygiene scandals across China, so users don't need to follow the news themselves. The app was downloaded 200,000 times in the first week of the launch. 

 3) Helping consumers find anything in real time

- Westfield: Research in the mall.  Westfield, the world's largest shopping mall developer, has added Google Commerce search functionality to its mobile app to save consumers time once they are in their malls. Users can search and compare prices for different stores in their local mall and then they can call the store directly with one click.

caddiesktelecomSK Telecom's smart shopping cart In October, SK Telecom tested a prototype Smart Cart in Emart stores in Seoul, providing accurate in-store information. Users search for products and coupons and thus create a shopping list on the Smartphone app. Then, the user authenticates and synchronizes this list with a tablet, which uses augmented reality, placed on the cart. The Smart Cart uses NFC technology to update information (in real time) such as the availability of products on the shelf, loyalty points, and checkout procedures. SK Telecom plans to officially launch Smart Cart in South Korea and China by the end of 2013.

4) Helping consumers understand everything in real time

Schiphol Airport launches the Chinese version of the Schiphol Airport App. In January 2012, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport launched its Chinese-language app in Chinese with Mandarin flight information, public transport and product offers, as well as maps of the departure hall. The app also allows you to translate signs in the airport thanks to a recognition system that uses the camera of a smartphone.

harrodsHarrods' Chinese app The Harrods department store in London has also launched a free app in Chinese that offers various features to customers, such as an interactive store guide, restaurant menus and other information about events taking place in the store.

5) Be there when consumers really need you, even if they haven't realized it yet. For many residents of Quebec (Canada), their lease ends on July 1st. This is therefore a good day to move, which generates a strong demand for storage tools such as cardboard boxes. For example, last year IKEA placed 2000 posters with cardboard boxes in Montreal. The slogans encouraged residents to take home each box for their home and each box had coupons to be used on new furniture.

6) Get involved if the government doesn't do it 

– OUTsurance Pointsmen It's a South African-based insurance company that places periwinkle trees on the streets of Johannesburg, CapeTown and Tshwane - to ease traffic in dangerous or congested intersections.

– The Potholes Brigade by Dial Direct : Dial Direct, another South African insurance company, which launched the Potholes Brigade, a maintenance team that repairs potholes reported by motorists in and around the city of Johannesburg. Unfortunately the bureaucracy has recently stopped the initiative, but there are a lot of other cities that could benefit from this kind of project.

– Daktari 1525 from Safaricom: In the last quarter of 2011, Kenyan telecom operator Safaricom launched a partnership with Call-a-Doc, the mobile health specialist, to launch Daktari - 1525. Subscribers can get medical advice from qualified professionals for about 2 cents per minute by calling 1525. The service does not offer diagnosis or prescriptions, but rather some level of advice and (if necessary) prescriptions to get to the nearest medical centre. All calls are confidential.

7) Helping Consumers Save Money

22seven- 22seven 22seven: Launched in South Africa in January 2012, 22seven is a financial services platform that analyzes users' account statements to determine their level of savings. Consumers can then track their spending by category and detect where they are overspending. They are then offered different strategies and tactics to reduce their spending. Members must share their account details to use the 22seven service.

– Billshrink / Orange BillShrink : BillShrink is a US service that analyzes consumers' phone bills (once the user gives access), before offering personalized recommendations on one of the 10 million combinations it measures. The Orange telephone operator offers its monthly subscribers a service that allows them to adjust their rate plan according to the best tariff, which is evaluated every month (based on their call history, the number of sms sent and their download data usage).

– Samsung's update program : The Samsung Upgrade promotion encourages American customers to exchange their old Smartphone with a Samsung Galaxy. After purchasing the Galaxy S2, S3 or Note, users upload the information (about their old phone) on Samsung's Facebook page and receive an estimate of its value. Consumers then send in their old device and receive a check for up to USD 300 in return.

– ankAmeriDeals of Bank of America BankAmeriDeals: Bank of America's BankAmeriDeals program offers promotions for customers to use in the stores they frequent. When users check their account online or on the app, promotional offers are listed next to the store where they made purchases. Rewards can be used in-store during their next visits.

 8) Helping consumers start the day off on the right foot

winter-wakeup- Boondoggles Winter Wake-Up : Winter Wake-Up is an app that works like a normal alarm clock, but by connecting with the online weather forecast wakes users up earlier than usual if unexpected weather conditions (ice, snow) occur during the night. Users can choose not to be woken up at all if transport becomes impossible.

- – « Uniqlo's "Stand Up In the same area, Stand Up from Uniqlo is a free app that wakes users up with music automatically created according to the weather; in addition, a melodious voice announces the time, weather conditions and the day of the week.

9) Helping consumers "do business".

utoLYZER d'autoTRADER AutoLYZER : autoTRADER, the Canadian automotive press specialist, has created the autoLYZER Facebook app that uses Facebook profile data (photos, social events, comments and interests) to generate a selection of three vehicles for sale that could match their lifestyle and personality.

– DuniaFitnes : DuniaFitnes, the Indonesian portal dedicated to fitness and health, has launched a smartphone app that offers personalized diets and health information including nutrient tables and fitness videos. The free app also includes an e-commerce service allowing users to purchase wellness and fitness products.

armani- EA7 by Emporio Armani : Emporio Armani has created a mobile app for its EA7 sportswear range. The app provides consumers with fitness and lifestyle advice. The app is free and also offers interactive experiences, games and content related to their clothing lines.

10) Propose relevant recommendations to consumers

 – Ticketmaster The American company Ticketmaster published a Facebook app in January 2012 that allows users to search for musical events, but also to see if their friends are going to attend concerts, read reviews, create a list of concerts they would like to attend and of course buy concert tickets. The 'Recommended Events' option integrates with Spotify to track which songs their friends have shared online, allowing Ticketmaster to suggest a list of concerts related to the shared music.

hellmans Hellmann's and St. Marche In May 2012, Hellmann's offered recipes made from ingredients purchased by consumers. Customized software was installed in the checkouts of St Marche, a Brazilian supermarket chain. When customers bought a jar of Hellmann's mayonnaise, the checkout would record this information and print out receipts with a personalized recipe based on the mayonnaise and ingredients purchased.

11) Making life easier for consumers 

Ford Keyless In order to promote Ford's Keyless technology (which allows drivers to close or open vehicle doors with an NFC pocket), the manufacturer has created an app that connects to an online account. Consumers then enter their username and password into the free app, which syncs to a computer and then detects their device nearby (via Bluetooth) and registers them in the pre-activated program.

vodafone- Vodafone and Richard Nicoll : Fashion designer Richard Nicoll and Vodafone GB have created a handbag that can charge a mobile phone on the move. The bag then recharges from a standard outlet using a magnetic cable, adding another two hours of battery life to a phone's battery.

– Toyota and Nintendo Toyota Japan has launched a service that connects and manages a SmartNavi GPS with a Nintendo DS and a Bluetooth signal allowing drivers to navigate with the console. Users can purchase a memory card (Kuruma from DS which costs USD 92) that fits into the Nintendo system and allows routes to be saved.

Virgin America and Rock the Vote Virgin America and the charity Rock the Vote have launched a service in the United States that allows passengers to register to vote in the 2012 presidential election using the entertainment system installed on the planes.

DNA testing by Health Street Health Street: Health Street, a New York-based medical testing company, offers paternity tests with their "Who's Your Daddy?" van, which is now roaming the streets of New York City. For USD 299, passengers can have a sample taken and analyzed in the van's laboratory, and the results are sent back a few days later.

eviansmartdropSmart Drop from Evian The "Evian Chez Vous" site allows Parisian residents to order bottled water for direct delivery to their homes and offices. Users can order other Danone group products, including Badoit or Volvic water. In 2013, the service will be accompanied by a Smart Drop; a magnetic magnet for refrigerators with a wifi connection, allowing members to order water automatically at the touch of a button.

Red Tomato Pizza Fridge Magnet The restaurant's VIP magnetic magnet, Red Tomato Pizza in Dubai, allows customers to order their favourite pizza at the touch of a button. Loyalty program members received a free magnetic magnet, which uses the Bluetooth functionality of a smartphone to connect to the Internet. Once customers press the magnet's button, the pizza is delivered to their pre-registered address.

Phone order from Turkcell : Turkcell announced the launch of a contactless e-commerce solution for the home. Consumers who own the Turkcell MaxiPlus5 (with NFC) will be able to pass their device over a fridge magnet (which is sold with the smartphone) to trigger Mobile Order, an internet shopping app. Burger King, Migros and energy provider Avgaz have already joined the deal to be included in the Mobile Order app. Existing customers can get this service on their mobile from TRY 5 (USD 2.75) per month.

ushuaiaUshuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel and PayTouch : Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel has teamed up with PayTouch, a biometric payment provider based in Barcelona. Hotel guests (who register upon arrival) can now make payments with their fingerprints. All the facilities are equipped with digital devices with scanners to prevent guests from carrying their wallets or credit cards.

GS25 convenience stores The "My Refrigerator" service from GS25 (a convenience store chain in South Korea) aims to satisfy consumers who appreciate a gift with their purchases, such as "1+1" products (two for the price of one or pack promotions), but find it irritating, especially when they have to carry the extra charge. With the "My Refrigerator" service, consumers can keep their extra gifts in their own virtual refrigerator, instead of taking them directly. Then they can simply collect them later at any GS25 store according to validity dates. It is also possible to give the products to a friend as a gift.

tescoepicerieTesco's Virtual Grocery Store Tesco UK supermarkets have launched an interactive and virtual grocery store at Gatwick airport in the UK. Before leaving on holiday, travellers can order their groceries through a digital window and their Smartphone. The items purchased are then delivered to their homes upon their return.

Isn't life beautiful?!

Not all brands can be 100% " Servile ": some luxury brands or the Apple of this world can afford to thrive as dominant brands. 

Now, if you're not Gucci or Applehow do I start? First of all, realize that slavish marks always take a back seat. For most brands/companies this means a radical change of mentality.

You must understand that the time when the marks were revered is now over. So it's not a good idea to tell your consumers that you're important and that they can have a piece of the pie if they pay the price. On the contrary, it's better to tell your customers, "We're here to help you no matter what you want" or even better, "We know what you want. That's it, we've already done it for you! « .

Pushing the extremes, there are huge opportunities for true Servile brands, which are able to anticipate their current offerings and provide complete lifestyle solutions to their customers.

Por marketers, Servile brands mean thinking about marketing campaigns that are not. If consumers don't search, install or share your efforts (regardless of the form, product, service, app, content, etc...), then you have to go back to square one. Now!

(Source : trendwatching.com / October 2012)

About trendwatching.com :

trendwatching.com is an independent trend research company with its own opinions, which scans the world for the most promising consumer trends, information, and practical and applicable ideas for business. For all the latest and best, we rely on our network of hundreds of trend watchers in more than 120 countries around the world. We are one of the world's leading trend research companies. trendwatching.com sends these Trend Briefings monthly and free of charge to more than 160,000 subscribers worldwide.

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