Winning Trust and Customer Loyalty in the Age of Real-Time
Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2010 studyhas just been released and it shows the last two year’s recessionary market has significantly impacted the relationship between brands and customers. Not only is consumer mistrust at an all–time high, fuelled by public scandals like the BP oil spill and Goldman Sachs’ mortgage securities fraud, but the trend towards conservative spending means that customer are more difficult to predict.
Add to this, the continued growth of social media, which compounds the shift in power toward the consumer by inviting them to critique a brand’s performance in real-time, and the rules for building and managing great brands are clearly shifting. Gaining traction in this new and unforgiving marketplace requires transparency, responsiveness, and nimble-thinking.
Here are the brands that made up the top 10:
As some brands are discovering, trust and customer loyalty are the name of the game.
Below are some brands that have succeeded at both in 2010.
Hyundai, #65, +9%
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Hyundai is doing better than it did in 2008.
Why? Because it focused on relevance, value and trust – three key differentiators in creating customer loyalty.
At time when customers were looking for brands they could trust, Hyundai unleashed its 2009 Assurance Plan, which allows consumers who finance or lease a new Hyundai to return the vehicle if they lose their jobs within a years of purchase.
The plan propelled the brand through the recession, winning new customers and loyalists. The carmaker has since proved that the move wasn’t just another short-term promotion by extending the warranty through 2010, even when the economy shows signs that it is slowly beginning to recover.
"The last two year’s recessionary market has significantly impacted the relationship between brands and customers."
Hyundai’s efforts to retain customers in the long-term beyond the promotions have also been commendable.
Not only has it focused on creating quality new models like the Sonata and 2010 Tucson and further built on its promise of “fuel efficiency,” but its Uncensored campaign, which addresses preconceived notions about the brand by taking potential Hyundai customers on test drives, importantly empowers the customer.
Watch: Interview with John Krafcik, Hyundai USA CEO
So far, the campaign, which integrates digital, social media, experiential and point-of-sale components, has been a huge success. And while its Facebook pagehas seen the occasional negative comment from its test drive participants, Hyundai’s hands-off approach only lent the campaign an air of legitimacy; because the brand has nothing to hide and invites all feedback, it appears more authentic and trustworthy.
Apple, #17, +37 percent
Apple , the Best Global Brand 2010’s biggest riser, has proven that it is possible to prosper in a recessionary environment – provided that your product communicates relevance and value.
The brand continues to strengthen its user loyalty with every move due to a combination of beauty, design and functionality.
This year, even after its iPad was initially ridiculed, the product went on to become one of the year’s biggest success stories. Fun, interactive and groundbreaking, the iPad was a luxury people were willing to shell out for – less expensive than a new Apple laptop, but just as exciting.
Even when Apple stumbles, as with the iPhone 4 reception problems, deep and lasting brand loyalty continues to keep the brand afloat. Much of this has to do with Steve Jobs, who offers an authentic human face to the brand. As a spokesman for the brand, he elicits trust – a reason why consumers are perhaps more willing to give the Apple brand the benefit of the doubt, at least for the time being.
Pepsi: #23, +3%
Like Hyundai, Pepsi has successfully focused on trust, transparency and customer empowerment.
Particularly notable this year was its Pepsi Refresh campaign, which builds on its internal corporate citizenship practices and turns it in an external brand-building activity.
The brilliant Pepsi Refresh campaignasks users to vote on their favorite social value projects created by individuals from around the world, and offers up funding to the winners. On one level, it empowers customers to instigate change. At the same time, it also reinforces good will toward the brand.
While a campaign of this size could run the risk of criticism for greenwashing or disingenuity, it feels authentic to consumers. That’s because Pepsi has a history of making corporate citizenship a priority, is clearly making good on its promises and is even giving non-winners exposure by posting their ideas on its website.
Watch: Interview with Indra Nooyi, Pepsico CEO
In a year when many corporations appeared to do more damage than good, the campaign struck the right chords with consumers and has created a more meaningful relationship with its audience. Overall, the project has proven so successful that in September, Pepsi announced that it would be expanding the campaign globally in 2011.
To find out more about these brands and others that succeed in building trust and loyalty this year, take a look at www.bestglobalbrands.com.
Jez Frampton is global chief executive of Interbrand, a leading brand consultancy. He leads the Interbrand network, shaping strategy and growth for its 36 worldwide offices and works alongside clients to create and manage brands. He is a member of the Marketing Society, the Chartered Institute of Marketing, the Market Research Society, the Design Business Association and the Institute of Directors.