Constant conversation to create products that delight
Just a few years ago, being able to understand and listen to what consumers needed from brands was not as relatively “easy” as it is today. It was even difficult to determine who these consumers were. We used “boxes” to classify them, using socio-demographic data and known target groups. That type of classification, however, only identified large groups of people with common characteristics, and wasn’t enough to meet the challenges of personalization—providing each consumer the most fundamental, valuable offering: a product and experience that serve them well.
Fortunately, advancements in information and communications technology, along with the numerous resulting new tools, have enabled brands to identify who their true consumers are. Now, we can get to know them at a deeper level by focusing conversations around what they need and expect (or don’t expect) from the brand. It is also important to identify how those consumers might react to a new offering, as well as what they may appreciate about the competitions’ products and/or services.
However, brand timelines are increasingly tyrannical and sporadic. Often, communication must be immediate, if not “automatic.” But the desire to be fast and effective shouldn’t make us lose sight of the horizon and general strategy behind every action or message. That’s what active listening is all about: conversing with thousands of consumers around the world, getting to know their preferences and behaviors to offer products that delight them. Research is the key.
“Ongoing active listening is all about conversing with thousands of consumers around the world, getting to know their preferences and behaviors to offer products that delight them”
We are overly exposed to the wide range of offerings and information surrounding us, so much so that differentiating ourselves from the competition is one of the great challenges brands must face. It here that communication becomes fundamental to developing and implementing strategies that are unique, revolutionary, genuine and, above all, designed for social networks. This is where listening to and understanding consumers regarding where they go and what they are looking for comes in. Then, it’s about offering them what they want and need, working to increasingly personalize the brand’s products and services.
Brands like Pantene are pioneers in conducting research on their consumers. Using platforms that allow us to analyze conversations on social networks enables us to design and develop products and strategies that are increasingly “customizable.” We do this to better reach our consumers, making them active participants. Consumers today, in addition to wanting a service or product, seek to feel a sense of identity with the brand. That is our major goal.
“Communication is fundamental to developing and implementing strategies that are unique, revolutionary, genuine and, above all, designed for social networks”
Pantene is currently launching its most revolutionary product of the past 30 years, driven by the market research, active listening and scientific development that enabled it to introduce an innovative solution that goes beyond a simple shampoo. The new Minute Miracle, reinforced with the power of an ampoule, revitalizes hair treatments from root to tip using a creamy foam and incredible—and long-lasting—scent. This product was born out of a specific consumer need, identified in studies that demonstrated the preoccupation Latin American women feel with split ends and frizzy hair.
However, going beyond the function of the product itself, the launch will be rooted primarily in consumer emotions, with messages that transcend the brand and discuss the role of women in society, touching on their self-esteem and ways of life.
The other brands in Procter & Gamble’s hair-care portfolio also detect and capitalize on insights derived from this type of active listening. Head & Shoulders, for example, improved its formula to provide #WOW Hydration for soft hair, breaking from its position as a product solely for treating dandruff, as it was perceived by consumers and, above all, women.
The same goes for Herbal Essences, which offers 90 percent natural products to serve consumers who need a different solution for their hair. “Herbal hair looks wild, natural and free. Just like the women who choose it.” This is the premise defining the brand. It is how the product was reinvented to change the way most women thought about natural hair care. Its unique collections feature an innovative formula called Bio: Renew, a blend of active antioxidants, aloe and seaweed that combine the power of nature with the best of science. It includes exotic ingredients and irresistible aromas inspired by nature to make the Herbal Essences experience unique.
As we can see, many brands with existing positioning strategies, as well as those still in the process of developing one, face multiple unknown challenges. Today, it is not enough to launch products and communicate them in a “creative” and impactful way: the goal is to bridge the gap between brand and consumer through direct communications. Solutions must be different, impacting consumers’ day-to-day ways of life. And, for that, you need to talk to them, with the priority of listening.