Brand-Customer Relationship Trends

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UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL: HOW ‘EXPERIENCE’ IS AT THE FOREFRONT OF THE BRAND-CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP

Sophie Maxwell

BRAND-CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP TRENDS Pearlfisher FeatureThe brand-customer relationship no longer purely focuses on the product or service but on the experience – or perceived experiential element – that the brand or product can give. And food and drink has been one of the greatest growth sectors in showcasing just how far experience can take us. Virtually every element of how, what, why, where and when we eat is now seen – and required to be - an experience…. From pop up restaurants to mobile pizza ovens, from edible exhibitions to the world’s largest dinner party… it’s hard to keep pace with just what is on offer.

And whilst food will always be about sharing and enjoyment – and we hope to see more incredible public and community initiatives – we are now starting to see a move away from the en masse. And I believe that we will see a shift back to a focus on individual needs and wants. In response, brands will need to find ways to holistically design new experiences to truly immerse us in the brand and nurture and enrich the personal experience on a more meaningful and one-to–one level. And this is far more of a tall order.

BRAND-CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP TRENDS Pearlfisher FeatureBrands are already immersed in the immediate connection that technology can provide. From self-service beer in bars via personal Tablets to a device that sends an SMS message when the milk goes off to Your Smart Butler – a Netherlands based service where you can order a meal online from a selection of restaurants with a smartphone and QR codes before you leave the house.

But, in truth, technology is still keeping us one step removed from the brand and it’s a lot harder for brands to find truly innovative ways to directly interact in the real time retail arena. However, a new initiative that uses technology to help consumers interact with the brand in the retail environment comes from Hellmanns.

The brand orchestrated a campaign in Brazil that featured customized recipes printed on the shopping receipt depending upon what ingredients have been bought. A great example of maximizing the 360-degree journey from shelf to plate.

BRAND-CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP TRENDS Pearlfisher FeaturePersonalized delivery and subscription services have also become big news but we particularly like the customized offer from UK coffee brand EightPointNine.

This service gives users the chance to customize and name their own blend each week and then have it sent straight to their door – probably the perfect balance of co-creation between brand and consumer.

And, of course, both the act of creating and the sense of expectation awaiting the delivery only serve to heighten the experiential element associated with the brand.

But (and as we know all too well) creating an experience within the brand architecture of the package itself – through the graphics, structure or copy – is more of a challenge. But this is where the true connection and brand buy-in lies.

Innocent was one of the pioneers in extending the brand experience and taking it to the community with its Fruitstock festival. Interestingly, they have now chosen to disband the annual event and are focusing on getting more creative with their packaging. Their recent 'Grow your own' initiative for kids provides fruit and veg seeds in the kids smoothie packs with directions on the back of the pack for growing the seeds in the drink cartons themselves and cutting out seed markers etc from side of pack. Inclusive, interactive, collaborative... A simple but truly holistic idea.

Tea smile is a new packaging concept designed for cold brewed tea bags. The idea starts with the beautiful shape of an ‘ice flake’ designed to evoke the feeling of coldness. On opening out the origami styled package, the consumer can see an iceberg standing inside with compartments for the cold tea bags.

BRAND-CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP TRENDS Pearlfisher Feature

And at the other extreme we have hot soup from the new Big Pot Co! The name in itself is slightly ironic with a small plastic soup pot embracing a big mission to provide a complete meal experience on the go.

The pots have special heat insulating wraps that allow the consumer to heat the soup and hold the pot in their hand.

And we should not underestimate the power of materials and texture to dial up a feeling. Orangina remains the icon when it comes to the power of the brand in the hand and the power a simple representative shape and texture can have. Sometimes the old ones are the best and can continue to be the inspiration for the next generation of food and drinks brands.

But essentially, to have any sort of real and personal connection, we need to fully experience brands from the outset and this has to start with the identity.

BRAND-CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP TRENDS Pearlfisher Feature

We would like to unashamedly mention just one of our own projects. And Froosh is one of the identities that we are probably most proud of. This was a redesign to solve the 'smoothie confusion' in the Nordic regions and communicate pure fruit health benefits. Our solution was a bold personality-driven design that uses bold statements to spread the word - http://www.pearlfisher.com/our-work/identity

Identity is more than just a logo – it’s the brand’s most defining expression, the opportunity to capture the very core of a brand and define their entire behavior pattern within the eyes of the consumer.

There is no denying that a one-off pop-up dinner party or edible art exhibition is exciting and memorable. But we hope that we have shown that fostering the food experience up close and personal can be just as intense and emotive – with a new sense of discovery and meaning through a brand experience that can be revisited time and time again.

PEARLFISHER Food Revolution Day

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Email Sophie Maxwell - Insight Director at Pearlfisher