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…Buy from your friends


The concept (some say it’s a theory) of LOVEMARK as a strategic tool for brand definition, positioning and offering is instructive and fundamental in this narration. Some writers have attempted to define the concept, but my position is that it is not given to definition, because it is operative, instructive and operational. LOVEMARK is a deliberate engagement that leads to a sustainable and enduring relationship between a brand and consumers. It is an all-engaging and all-inclusive brand expression of love, even beyond its sphere of target market.

Far beyond the extension of its value and benefits, LOVEMARK is simply humane. From the moment I first encountered this concept, it disrupted my appreciation of target market, and my perception of the consumer; LOVEMARK amplifies love and passion, a combination of which brings humaneness into brand building, consumer and competitive engagement. Interestingly it redefines competition among brands, deepening the theory of consumer satisfaction…beyond the manifest demonstration. LOVEMARK is about unconditional love and appreciation (and as some are wont to say, RESPECT) of consumer s’ feelings.

LOVEMARK is an appeal to emotions, in demonstration of love towards the consumer; a call for brands to exist in the interest of their target market; a challenge for brands to engage in emotional connections with customers. This task starts where that of customer-centrism ends because it builds relationship based on emotion such as identification, association, provision, and support without conditions. Brands that identifies with the customers’ anniversaries such as birthdays are inching in the direction of LOVEMARK. But to be clear, expression of LOVEMARK starts with love for all, through the quality and value of core offering, its offering and after-use to unending show of concern in love and respect.

Consumer satisfaction has gone far beyond the conventional practice of ensuring competitive value delivery, and brand-buyer relationship servicing. The conventional practice is for brands to periodically reward consumers for various reasons in diverse ways that includes price reduction, free offers (amplified promo-pack sizes), sponsorship of social events, free branded/corporate gifts, coupons, etc., especially at year-ends as now. Sadly, this has not been the case in the present season. Consumer-friendly brands will not make excuses of time or season (we are out of recession, technically); they won’t compromise on values and operational standards…they will give back to friendship, loyalty and patronage. Many households and families are unable to meet basic needs this year-end/season for obvious reasons, but they have invested in sustaining relationship with many of these brands that are today quiet to their plight. These families kept on with patronizing those ‘penny packs’ of milk powder, sugar, food seasoning…they have expended their lean resources in servicing bank transactions (online banking transaction – COT), telecommunication/GSM recharge cards; they bought drinks and food across market segments, some even bought insecticides in big volume, sustaining brands and investments which should in the spirit of Christmas season return to say THANK YOU.

Where are those brands that ran to consumers for support in form of sales promotion in time of trouble? Some others even made consumer-reward promo events suspect at point of redemption, yet the market responded, only for them to now keep quiet when same consumers need corporate & brand support to get by this season. We know as brand management consultants, that as a rule, annual sales and marketing plan appreciates year-end brand reward schemes, as a sales and customer relationship management tool. Even outside the conventional 25% of total brand revenue reserved for brand support, accounting books make provision for seasonal consumer loyalty programs. Such investment helps brand-consumer relationship, but in the main reward consumer loyalty. By now we should see brands decorating the commercial space with all sorts of gifts in reward of consumers.

Going forward, therefore, we think it is time brands to get more responsible for their actions towards CONSUMERS. For as many brands there are that have stamped out friendship from their brand offering, consumers should vote against them at the market place. Alternatives are many at the market place, so friendship instead of brand personality and core value offering should propel buying decisions among consumers, going forward. This position poses no threat to quality and over-all value because friendship or friendliness ensures value design and offering in the first place. It is fundamental in all that happens to any brand; a friendly brand will ensure good value offering, affordability, convenience, presence, ease of application, and even competitive superiority. But above all, friendly brands will reciprocate good gestures towards appreciating consumer loyalty. One of the popular carbonated drink brands is presently gaining from its friendliness towards consumer by holding down its price to ensure affordability and convenience of purchase, as against another that positions to prey on consumers by reason of its personality, manipulating its packaging to drive up its unit price of same measure with the friendly brand mentioned above, touting its ‘personality’ and market position. The results from these tow engagements makes the case for the superiority of friendship over form and nature, when it comes to brand-consumer relationship management.

CONSUMERS, the power to change brands’ behavior towards you is still in your hands as THE KING at the market place. Therefore, you must be careful to BUY FROM THOSE BRANDS WHO VALUE YOUR FRIENDSHIP and acts as same, going forward. We are taking note of those ‘unfriendly’ brands for consumer orientation in 2018 market year.

From all of us at Consumers’ Assembly, we say MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL CONSUMERS, and friendly brands.

In this article:
Bernard OkhakumeLOVEMARK
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