values Archivos | Allegro 234
Probably, one of the most challenging situations in our “NetWorld” is that both people and companies can be traditional, modern and/or postmodern, independently of geographical boundaries.
Moreover, regarding specific situations, a person behaves different. Let’s take as an example a young contemporary mother, who is also working, considering Ronald Inglehart’s value map:
- As a mother she prioritizes values such as family, kids, health. A mix between traditional and modern values
- As a professional, she prioritizes values such as goal driven, pleasure of working, achievement. Modern values
- As a friend, environment, gender, self-expression. Postmodern values
Is she schizophrenic? No”¦ Is she forgotten some values in each case? No”¦ Simply, she is reordering her value agenda!
She has all those values, but depending of the situation, ones come first and then the others. The value agenda makes she behaves in different ways in each specific situation.
From the company side, to make this lady live its brand experience will depend on the association between the company and her value agendas.
The new challenge for companies would be to re-create the way they segment their audiences. Neither gender, age, status… nor ethnography.
Erich Joachimsthaler is also talking about behaviours and limitations in ethnographic research.He says:
“Ethnography research has become hugely popular among researchers and marketers who seek to understand consumer behaviour. But ethnography has inherent limitations. It is not possible with large samples, it is difficult or impossible to quantify, it involves high level of participant burden, it generates little information about brief or uncommon experiences and it does not representatively sample the everyday life context”.
On March 20th, he will talk about this issue under the umbrella of his brand new approach, known as “Hidden in plain sight” through ARF Webcast.
Could sociology give us a new way to approach and understand the relation between us and a brand experience?
The first formal models used for building brands strategies were created during the industrial era and were related to productive processes. These are the most popular ones, and although they have evolved along the years, they still maintain their original characteristics.
Most of these models were developed in the United States and the fact of America being a young continent has implied, in brand terms, a scheme of thought with iconoclastic features, based on the present and with a projection into the future. This model considers current goals and future aspirations. Aspects such as history, traditions and culture have a very weak influence on it.
These are linear models with steps to be followed, one after the other. It is a huge machinery where the emphasis is set on the process. It is brand centred, and is viewed as a product, as an organisation, as a person and like a symbol.
For certain types of businesses these models are appropriate for the construction of their marketing strategy. McDonald’s or Virgin prioritize image, and therefore they become an example of this model.
The personal model is an old one and has its roots in Europe, possibly with the first sketches of marketing as we know them today. These models are based on values. Therefore they take history, traditions, and culture into account, and putting their emphasis on people, they evolve with them.
They take into account multi-dimensional characteristics of the company and its environment. Their standardization (each brand strategy is unique) is hard; in fact, they refer more to conceptual frames than standard methodologies.
They stress results and are people centred. They seek to convey values, take the organisation as a cultural feature, develop a sense of belonging and the “clever idea” is the one that generates admiration. Vodafone or Mercedes-Benz are a good example of this, since they prioritize identity.
Between the iconic and personal models
Both models are valid and each one has its own use and caters for certain kind of concrete needs in specific businesses. Probably the major challenge for this issue is centred in avoiding the election of the wrong model when deciding to work on the company’s brand strategy.
When buying, for example a Volkswagen Phaeton, you can get to know what stage of the process it is going through, from manufacturing to transportation and delivery. In fact from your own PC you will be able to take a look at workers doing their job on your future vehicle.
When a meeting is relevant, the place where it will be held becomes a secondary issue, since it is possible to arrange a videoconference from the beach while enjoying the sun with your family, or even hold it on a Sunday afternoon, should the other party be in Hong Kong starting their labour week.
Not long ago, company’s information was reported, depending on the case, once a day, once a month, once every quarter or on a yearly basis. Today we have the possibility of checking, analyzing and deciding based on real-time online information.
Impatience can be appreciated in critical situations. In the past, wars lasted long periods of time. Unfortunately, today they have become another soap box opera-show we watch in our TV screens, and since we get horrified, on the other hand, we want a quick end, but on the other, we look forward to some action.
This can be understood as a change from a scarce to an over-information situation, which in many cases makes decision processes more difficult, and generates lack of confidence. Models applied today include more and more variables, and therefore become more complex. Besides, since all that data is on-line, such variables change every second.
All these make companies change from working with possible scenarios to probable strategic options. The key issue is to select the right information for our decision making process, so as to give chances to each one of the events that might take place. Contingency plans become a function of probability changes.
We have passed to live and go through our lives, relationships and businesses from black and white situations to ones in different shades of grey. Immediateness, endless options, over-information and diffuse boundaries in a way surpass our expectations, all of which makes us need some certainties to improve our life style.
It is possible that the most important issue for companies, regardless their size, location and sector they may belong to, is that the rules of the game have changed, and, in that sense, offer and demand go beyond their traditional boundaries.
No matter if the company’s current scope is global or not, there exists a global offer of similar products and services which certainly is, and a demand which is no longer round the corner. In fact our product may be attractive for a person living on the other side of the planet.
The range and variety of products that can therefore be offered is growing, and combinations thereof innovative. With the development of new financing tools, automotive companies have ceased to sell automobiles to start offering mobility. Furthermore, they have stopped being companies where products are bought to become selling companies.
Going on with the automobile sector, if we segmented audiences according to their values we would find out that Mercedes-Benz is a brand for people that “have accomplished their goals” whereas BMW is a brand for those who “are on their way to achieve them”. In the case of Mercedes-Benz, issues related to tradition have more incidences, whereas in BMW, accomplishing an objective is what matters.
On the other hand traditional boundaries of offer and demand are diffuse. Relationships are no longer linear from the producer to the final consumer.
If the product needs to reflect a certain degree of self-expression, such target will hardly be accomplished if the consumer is not involved in the creation, development and production processes.
In extreme situations, which can be appreciated in some Internet sites, customers are paid for participating in the development of a new service, therefore the customer becomes a supplier, the company becomes a client and all of them undertake multiple roles simultaneously.
For example, behind a company like Ikea there is not only a solid business model, but a clever idea: “to democratize the design”. The company has established a circular relationship with its customers:
- The client selects those items of his interest from the product display area, taking note on where he will find them in the warehouse.
- Then, this client, who has now turned into warehouse worker, looks for the product, takes it out of the shelves, puts it on a cart and goes towards the cash register.
- At the cash register, he is both “customer and vendor”. He pays a price which indirectly discounts the amount that Ikea has paid to him for his work as an employee, also considering transportation and assembly of the final product.
- At the cash registers the company has established the contact point “company-customer” as well as the Employee-Customer/Human Resources Department relationship”.
Once at home, the client turns into a worker again, carries out the finishing tasks and obtains the final product.
This way, IKEA has democratized the design offer. However this is not a company for everyone. It is basically addressed to an audience with a set of values such as freedom of choice, leisure time management, freedom, tolerance and imagination, among others.