Tuesday, February 28, 2012

FLAWSOME! Can Brands Embrace Flaws and Win?

After reading the most recent TrendWatching brief, I learned a new word: FLAWSOME. The basic definition: brands that are still brilliant and thriving despite having flaws.  The basic principle that "human nature dictates that people have a hard time genuinely connecting with, being close to or really trusting other humans who (pretend to) have no weaknesses, flaws or mistakes," helps explain the most recent surge in the FLAWSOME trend. Consumers want (beyond great customer service, a great working product and the feeling of community) transparency and brands that are human aka flawed.

Based on recent studies by Havas Media, November 2011, nearly 85% of consumers worldwide expect companies to be involved in promoting individual and community well being. While only 28% of people think that companies are working hard to combat environmental and social challenges.

With customers living in a social media world, it only seems right that the transparency span to companies too. Consumers share their lives on Twitter, Blogs, Facebook etc. and feel it only fair that companies broadcast and share in the same way. What about the bad stuff you ask? Well, consumers don't believe that flaws and weaknesses don't exist. They want brands to acknowledge problems and mistakes and fix them or at the very least explain them. Flawlessness is an Illusion. Brands need to jump on their issues and take them public and make it known that they are aware of the issue and in the process of fixing it.

Revoo.com, January 2012 study presents the following facts:

  • 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see good and bad scores. 
  • 30% of consumers suspect fake and censored reviews if there aren't any bad reviews in the mix.
  • There is a 67% conversion rate from Shopper to Consumer for those shoppers who go out and read bad reviews.  

So, as brand marketers we get that things will go wrong and that we need to open to responding. What else can we do in the brand marketing realm to see this FLAWSOME trend through?

1. Crowd Sourcing
A super hot trend right now that works? Yes. Crowd sourcing rules at the moment and why shouldn't it. You empower your consumer base, make them feel heard and why not introduce some neat ideas and products at the same time. Getting feedback from your consumer base not only gives you data on preferences, but it helps you engage with who you are producing for in the first place. Create a good platform for a campaign and test it out - either in beta form and get responses - or in real time. 

I love the aspect of using crowd sourcing at events too. Why not through a New Direction Launch Party. Add all your potential change makers to your guest list and use the event as a platform for change and engagement. Then follow through and keep in touch with your change maker base. I guarantee they will love being heard, will continue to follow and will help advocate for you.

2. Incorporating Transparency in to Marketing Communications & Events
 Countless brands have started to incorporate reviews, comments and public responses to their live websites. This can be pretty scary for brands, but if consumers are going to comment why not have them do so in a controlled environment where you can see them, hear them, understand them and respond to them. It's like having a focus group in your home. Use it to your advantage and get those bad reviews turned around with some great customer service.

A particular favorite - also mentioned in the TrendWatching Brief - is the Tweet Seats idea. We all know and either love or hate the vibrating phones during a show. The lit screens clutched in other viewers hands. Some people just can't let go of Social Media and want to Tweet everything they can about their experiences. Instead of fighting the Social trend, embrace it! Several theaters have created Tweet Seats. Rows of seats designated or those people who insist on using their mobile devices (still on silent). The rows are usually (and should be) in the back so they don't bother other theater goers. This way everyone is happy.

For events, why not have a large twitter board. Have people respond to content - and who doesn't like it to be on a big board. Wouldn't it be great to have a Social Media board be the Step and Repeat at an event? Get those voices out there and embrace them. The more authentic you are as a brand - the better the communication with your consumers. Of course there may always be a bad apple in the bunch who just wants to give you a cantankerous review or comment - but other consumers will see right through that and actually embrace you more.

3. Acknowledging a disconnect - You Either Take Us or Leave Us
Who hasn't seen and loved the new Miracle Whip advertising and marketing promotions?! Miracle Whip is just one of those brands you either love or hate as a consumer. It's no fault of the company, its just a taste preference and subjective. You either like or you don't! I personally have loved their We are not for everyone campaign, and would love to see some other brands who have the same cult following do the same. How about a love it/hate it promo party where you separate the two groups but somehow have them come together at the end.  Great way to convert the naysayers while embracing your fans.

4. Take Your Problem & Spin It
 I posted on the Domino's turn around story last year for their Times Square ticker and then again a couple of weeks ago with their Think Oven campaign. I can't think of any other company that has done such a great, transparent and incredibly visible campaign to take their atrocious reviews and bad press and spin them in to better sales and customer perception. The Times Square campaign put all of the reviews in plain sight of everyone in NYC's busiest intersection for foot traffic. Good and bad reviews alike were put on display in real time. The most recent Think Oven is a crowd sourcing idea that I hope brings them some great success.

So what can we learn? Be a human brand, embrace your success as well as your failures and work with them! Engage. Engage. Engage. And your customers will reciprocate.