In this opinion piece, Michael Buckley (pictured below), managing director of Accenture Interactive for Australia and New Zealand, argues that in order for brands to beat their competitors, they must recognise a new, wider playing field.
Identifying competitors has become increasingly difficult for brands. Traditionally, a business may have compared itself to direct competitors, however the lines have become blurred due to rapid innovations in technology and digitisation. As a result, customer expectations have become fluid across industries, and we now expect to see the impact of design and technology in all areas of our lives.
To beat both traditional and newly emerging competitors, brands need to identify what drives loyalty and changes in purchasing behaviour. Our work with clients has pointed not to pricing or advertising, but to customer experience – companies with a strong experiential element are outshining traditional players.
Exceptional customer experiences offered by brands such as Amazon and Spotify have raised the bar for businesses in all sectors. For example, Amazon’s short delivery windows have set our expectations for immediacy, not only for delivery but also through omnichannels’ enabled communication. Meanwhile, curated features like ‘Follow Friends’ and ‘Discover Weekly’ from Spotify have granted users a personalised offering.
In short, experience has become the new benchmark for valuing brands. In the age of the customer, how brands respond to and make customers feel is becoming the crux to remaining competitive.
Brands are recognising they need to catch up, with a recent Accenture survey revealing 76 per cent of CEOs agreed they need to be more proactive in disrupting their own industry. Brands must ensure they are providing experiences for consumers that can contend with the new generations of competitors. It’s no longer enough to create something that people like; brands must also build experiences that people love. According to Accenture research, 40 per cent of brands agree that their customer experience is inconsistent across channels, and only one third believe their data and analytics are differentiating. By merely focusing on direct competitors, and even experiential competitors, companies still risk falling prey to the crisis of customer experience currently felt by struggling CMOs.
Accenture Interactive and Fjord have created a way to measure ‘brand love’, accounting for business disruption and rapidly changing consumer expectations through the development of its Love Index. The report has determined love and brand experience affinity can be categorised into five dimensions to help determine where brands are succeeding and where they’re falling behind.
Netflix scored as the most loved brand in the world – a digital company that is setting the pace for all others, regardless of vertical. Netflix has bridged devices, locations and connectivity to make its services accessible at all times. In so doing, Netflix has made itself dependable and its customers loyal. The streaming service has reshaped the way people consume content. It disrupted TV viewing, cinema-going, storytelling, and pop culture.
Brands need to abandon traditional tools for measuring competitors as digital technologies take hold of nearly every aspect of our daily lives. In order to define new competitors, it is necessary to define the types of competition:
- Direct competition – has been the traditional focus for marketers, which targets brands whose traditional and emerging providers who sell similar products and services. For instance, Tesla is a relatively new direct competitor in the automobile industry.
- Experiential competition – refers to organisations that offer an experience that effectively makes another organisation’s product or service redundant. For example, self-driving cars might make it unnecessary to have private auto insurance. While non-direct competitors, they could significantly impact a tangentially related industry.
- Perceptual competitors – these brands are those competing to shape experiences that have set new expectations across sectors. Previous Accenture research has identified companies like Apple, Uber and Sonos as the top perceptual competitors, but the increasing hyper-personalised services offered by Netflix, Spotify and Amazon have usurped the original tech giants. Customers love these brands, and Accenture Interactive believes they pose a more acute competitive threat than many marketers have yet realised.
For brands wanting to catch up with the experience leaders, it is essential to look at perceptual competition not simply as a threat but as market insight for new opportunity. The best opportunities of innovation often result from a deep understanding of the expectation chasm between consumers’ collective expectations and what the best individual industries have to provide.
For example, while Netflix is not a direct competitor for many organisations, its success serves as an illustration of the role that technology plays in our lives and proves that to remain relevant, brands must develop and drive a digital strategy, even if they aren’t traditionally digital brands.
As the digitalisation of everything will continue to disrupt today’s business climate, catching up with experience leaders won’t be easy, but it can be done. All brands are in pursuit of beating competitors and creating lasting differentiation, however in order to do so brands must recognise a new, wider playing field.
The winning formula is to look outside the industry, bring in key learnings from a variety of industries and let it inform a brand’s next move. Ultimately, brand competitiveness can be achieved through commitment to continuously developing experiences at a rate that is consistent with that of evolving customer expectations.
OOH transit company Adflow has announced the success of the first phase of its regional expansion program. Adflow’s regional footprint has increased by 60 per cent to now include 65 regional locations. With 9.1 million people living regionally in Australia (growth of 1.1 per cent experienced in the 19/20 Financial year) and most regional centres […]
Freshworks, a leading software company, has started trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market, marking an important milestone for the company. The company priced its IPO at US$36 per share (AU$49.76), raising about US$1 billion (AU$1.4B), resulting in a total market capitalisation of AU$13.7 billion (US$10B). Freshworks, which was founded in India, has strong roots […]
Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) is the biggest player in the holiday shopping game and Google’s most recent research suggests consumer interest for the peak sales season starts much earlier than retailers may realise. The pandemic has fundamentally changed buyer behaviour over peak sales season, with Google suggesting that global consumer interest in Black Friday […]
Awindependent PR Agency Agent99 has added The Distilled Spirits Council of the US (DISCUS) to its client roster, alongside thought leader and commercial property specialist, Helen Tarrant. DISCUS is a national trade association representing U.S. producers, marketers, and exporters of distilled spirits. The account was won following a competitive pitch earlier this year. DISCUS has […]
Melbourne-based independent creative agency, By All Means, has today released limited edition ‘Locktown’ t-shirts to create a positive, artistic commemoration of their city, while shining a spotlight on the significant impact of lockdown on the mental health of Victorians. After 235 days under strict stay-at-home orders, Melbourne today claims the unenviable crown from Buenos Aires […]
Global marketing agency, Komodo, has announced it will be launching a dedicated TikTok arm to the business in Australia, following a series of key industry hires and new creators signed to their roster. The agency, who partners brands with social influencers across the globe, aims to bring a new dimension to influencer marketing by assisting brands […]
According to Fifth Dimension CEO Lyndall Spooner, whether you like roller coasters or not, we have all been riding ‘Dashed Hopes’ the COVID-19 emotional roller coaster for over 18 months and many of us have turned to online retail therapy to cope. Spooner uses the analogy of an emotional roller coaster to depict consumers’ […]
Underscoring its ongoing commitment to team care and wellbeing, during and beyond the pandemic, Havas Village Australia has introduced be together – a reconnection initiative to enable staff to reconnect with loved ones for longer when domestic and international borders reopen. The initiative, which reflects the Havas core value ‘Better Together’, gives staff from Host/Havas, […]
Global ecommerce and marketplace specialist Pattern has ranked a group of 50 brands selling on Amazon.com.au based on a set of best practice criteria it has developed. Pet brand Zenify topped the ranking in Pattern’s Amazon Australia Benchmarking Report, scoring 82 per cent of the possible marks against a set of criteria designed to measure […]
Fifth Dimension Consulting has announced the expansion of its executive leadership team in response to the organisation’s significant growth over the last 18 months. Lyndall Spooner has moved from the position of managing director to the role of chief executive officer (CEO). As CEO, she will lead Fifth Dimensions’ innovation arm, as well as the […]