Social Media do Loyalty but Loyalty doesn't do Growth?

This might be vastly oversimplified but "social media" - e.g. according to Millward Brown's findings on social ROI - seem to work upon loyalty measures. To be more exact: being a fan (or somehow digitally engaged) is correlated with more positive attitudes towards the brand and a larger share of wallet.

This is a typical result for loyalty programs. It suffers from the typical "correlation-criticism" that says that loyal customers are simply extremely overrepresented among participators in a loyalty program. In other words: they probably have been loyal before their participation already. And that's why they participate. In the case of social media this is even more plausible because e.g. becoming a fan on facebook is exactly that: being a fan already and expressing that.

This whole notion of loyalizing the already loyal customers also is the main doubt many marketers have (or should have) when it comes to loyalty as a lever for growth: it doesn't bring you new customers but it also doesn't effect the buying behavior of existing ones much. Why?
(Apart from this being well proven empirically, ...) because when people buy you brand a lot (are loyalists) it's hard to make them buy much more or more often. (They will rather not buy a third house insurance from you, they will not buy a third refrigerator, will probably not wash their cloths more often in order to buy more detergent from the brand they are fans of - simply because there are natural limits for purchase frequency and often also for volume.) This differs from category to category but most often the plans to raise volume or frequency significantly, sustainably and profitably (!) are quite unrealistic. You might argue that cross-selling is generates growth but cross-selling is rather a matter of selling than of emotional brand loyalty and by the way also has natural limits - e.g. through already owning those products from a competitor brand.

Social media - such as facebook sites - are rather loyalty programs than customer acquisition programs and as such they tend not to contribute very much to a brand's growth.

Please read a newer post on how social influence - as opposed to "social media" - can on the contrary be a great force - probably even when it comes to gaining new customers: read it here.

An eye-opening must read

"How brands grow" is an absolutely fascinating and revealing book for marketers. Everybody who really wants to generate growth and not just perpetuate existing marketing ideology should read it. I will read it twice.

Here's a link to the German amazon site:

And here's one to the US one:
How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don't Know

Why differentiation, positioning & persuasion are overrated

Today's marketing and even academia seem sure about one thing when it comes to brands:

A brand contributes to the firm's success by "standing for something...uniquely valued by consumers". A brand has a certain position in the minds of consumers and this position makes it "work"... so we are used to think - explicitly or implicitly.

That's why we all believe in specific benefits and emotional territories we want to "own".

Extensive research shows that
a) Brands tend to be not very differentiated in the minds of the consumers. I.e. in brand trackings most often there are hardly any really specific attributes attached to a brand exclusively. One of the reasons for this is probably that consumers do know that most brands and products are equal. Basically we do know that as well, we just not allowed to say it.
b) This "image parity" doesn't hinder market leaders from being far more strong and successful compared to competitors and also those competitors from making good earnings. There is no proof of meaningfully differentiated brands being systematically more successful as "undifferentiated" ones. The classic textbooks on positioning haven't even tried to prove it scientifically. Aaker, Ries & Trout etc. assume they are simply right in their over-obsession with a differentiating positioning just because it sounds so plausible. It's just as plausible as e.g. the model we all use: that attitudes guide purchase behavior - which is scientifically wrong most of the times - the reverse connection being measurably much stronger. (see also point d in this list.)
c) There seems to be no consistent evidence of specific benefits or values being attributed to brands by consumers even if they have had really insightful positionings or campaigns aimed at attaching those things to the brand. And brands are also not really used as advertised. Knoppers is not skewed towards a consumption around 8:30 in the morning, HSBC is not mainly used for global tasks, Kitkat is not necessarily eaten as a break filler.
d) Ads without a persuasive message are just as effective as those conveying such a "unique persuasive message". This is uncomfortable to admit - and for all pretesting researchers this seems insane (or just dangerous). But when you look at lots of the successful pieces of brand communication of commercially successful brands - lots of them don't persuade anyone of anything specific about their product. They might show or deliver specific stuff to the audiences but don't tell you that they are good or better than others at anything (e.g. Coke ads, or almost all social media activities which even avoid persuasive messaging on purpose.)

So what am I saying here? That there's no brand effects at all? No I'm not! It's just that lots of data and experience imply that there are other ways how brands and communication can work without stressing a differentiating positioning (message).

This alternative model stresses memory rather than persuasion and mental availability rather than differentiation or positioning. It also thinks of purchase not as a choice made by consumers using attributes or "benefits" that they "compute" to choose the right brand - but rather as a unwanted mental task that is performed half-unaware by using different heuristics that make the choice easier.

Instead of thinking of a brand as positioning you could think of it a something that eases choice by being present at the moment when this choice has to be made. This view is not new. In fact, it's the most basic and agreed upon "function" of brands. The sting about this notion is that mental availability is key - not differentiation. The brand that is more mentally (and physically) present at the decisive moment wins. Not the one with the most differentiating positioning! Whatever makes the brand Top of Mind in a certain situation is alright. Persil does not have to have a non-generic message if the branding is strong, popularity and familiarity are high, etc. It could but it doesn't have to. There's no "differentiate or die" here.

Now, is there no value in being different? YES, there definitely is! It's just that a distinctive idea, style or pattern doesn't work per se, but AS A MEANS TO MAKE A BRAND MORE MENTALLY PRESENT at the moment of choice (or recommendation). If you consistently look differently as a brand you will be recognized and memorized more easily. If you have a unique story that people
want to hear you will be remembered better. But it's not the difference itself that sells. It's the easier retrieval from memory, the familiarity & attention that are at work.

That's why you can tell that KitKat is for having a break and broadcast excellent commercials built around this notion and be successful doing that and still have a sales increase not connected to the break occasion. In fact, it would be stupid to limit yourself to one occasion. And still, those ads worked brilliantly. How? By being remembered and correctly attributed. And maybe - but just maybe - by implying certain moods relevant in the moment of choice. Note: not necessarily at the moment of consumption, but of choice! I think the most important thing about the KitKat break is he cracking/splitting of the Kitkat bars when they say "have a break". Which is basically intricate branding - visual, auditive, behavioral branding. It's the breaking of the bars not taking a break that makes it so brilliant. The break you take is the story around it that makes everything plausible, interesting, memorable & fun. There needs to be plausibility and category fit of such a story but it isn't more than that, maybe. Just a plausible story that you keep telling because it builds memory structures for you. Not necessarily because you want people to use it exactly when they have a break. Well, if it helps - yes, if not - screw it.

Same with brand personality (as part of positioning). Personality makes you stand out and be recognized. It's not that people buy the brand because they WANT exactly THIS personality. They buy the brand because its personality makes them remember and recall the brand. It's seems to be a too slight difference. But it's not! This alternative view frees us from stupid esoteric retrofitting arguments why exactly THIS personality, design etc is "relevant" and not another. It also frees us from pretending to find "unique" propositions let's say for insurance companies whatever it takes - which probably will end up in something generic how hard you may try. Try to make an interesting, resonating one instead. Or take the one they already have and make it resonate and being remembered and attributed right. Make the branding work!

Things people recall when they buy and that stick to your product or brand and don't get misattributed. That's what works. Call it positioning? Call it differentiating? No problem, go for it if you like. Clients want to hear it anyways. But don't forget that they are just a possible means to a necessary end: to being vivid in the minds of people at the decisive moment.

As my former boss once said (Peter, I do remember): "There was an era before the positioning concept and there will be one after. It's just a concept."

(This post is largely influenced by this book here: "How Brands Grow")

Social Media as Relationship Marketing

What is the chain of cause and effect that makes social media work (or not work) in terms of "brand building"? It's quite obvious how it works in terms of promotion / sales support (making the right offers to people who are interested and getting in touch with their friends); but how exactly does it work for brands?

I have come to the conclusion that as soon as we say it works upon the brand's image (like eg advertising often does) - we are probably wrong. Or to be more precise - we use the wrong intermediate construct - image (some inner representation of the brand's qualities and traits).
If I were to measure social media effects I would rather not go for image profiles in terms of attributes connected to a brand. Why?

1. Because image is mostly about what a brand stands for and is good at and social media is about how a brand behaves on a daily basis and who it can relate to. What we normally want to express when we use the word "image" is not about brand behavior as a "persona" or its real-life relations to others. We could alter our concept of "image" but that's simply tweaking a concept to make it work somehow. I'm convinced social media doesn't need this tweaking.

2. I personally think social media doesn't change much about the perceived strengths or weaknesses of a brand's offerings as long as they don't get better in reality. Simply because it can't just go and make claims about them. People won't listen and will even make the brand look worse than before making those "image" claims.

3. It doesn't have enough reach to alter perceptions in the mass market. And that's what we normally mean when we think "image". We mean something we can measure in the whole target group, not in minor fractions of the target group.

I would frame social media in the field of relationship marketing where reach has never been the big question, where noone has even tried to create a juxtaposition between advertising and e.g. loyalty marketing. Once we do that new metrics come into play: brand loyalty measures, recommendation measures, share of wallet measures, even satisfaction measures and so on. It's also possible to classify it In the field of public relations or customer service or even market research. All of these disciplines/functions would never be staged as candidates to "replace" advertising or to try to claim that they alone can market products.

For me this very simple and un-fancy categorization was very helpful and resolved a lot of cognitive dissonances.

Maybe it will help some readers as well.

Metaphors of brand strategy

Metaphors are not quite conscious frames in our thinking that generate a certain kind of perception, throughput and output in our minds. Metaphors work through drawing a parallel between concepts thus transferring attributes fom one concept to the other. Planners usually are not aware that their thinking is guided by metaphors so that their output tends to be influenced but also unconsciously limited by them.

One of the well known metaphors in strategic thinking is "marketing = military/battle". So that words and images of Targeting, Forces, Impact, Strength, Penetration, Reach arise.

A metaphor that nobody is talking about as far as I know is that of "space". Leading to concepts such as Positioning, Territory, Moving from here to there in the positioning space, "The world of" etc. It's clearly connected to the metaphor of "battle" but has it's specific impacts on our thinking.

The "space" metaphor is static in its nature even if movement is possible on "the terrain". Think of positioning - THE branding concept of the last 30 years. Positioning is about settling down. Where? In the minds of the consumers - which again implies that minds are a space where you just decide "where" to place your brand. Set your claims "here". Positioning is obsessed with differentiation: it is allergic to sharing space with other brands. Positioning is positioning gainst the positions or other brands.

One limitation of this extremely powerful framing is: it does not acknowledge the active character of brands. Brands do things all the time and don't just sit in one certain spot in the brain. Not the brands as collective perceptions but brands people interact with. Thinking of brands as movements and not positions could generate different kinds of ideas.

Another bias of the "space" metaphor has to do with the human reluctancy to imagine a space with more than 2-3 dimensions or a curved space or a non-continuous space. On a PowerPoint slide three-dimensional spaces often exceed the viewer's visual capacities so we rather stick with two crossed dimensions. Within such a space brand positioning seems to be a choice of coordinates on the two dimensions. This systematically undermines our ability to think outside the box (again a spacial metaphor) and to open up new dimensions. Secondly, such a continuous positioning space implies that you could maybe move a brand "a bit" along those dimensions, whereas it might well be that in the mind of the consumer there is no such "a bit" but only gravity centers of attraction with a vacuum between them. There is a post in my blog dealing with the issues of "crosses". (here's another more detailed post about the issues of positioning crosses.)

What could be alternative metaphors that foster a different kind of thinking?
I wish a had simple and revolutionary answer at hand. All I have to offer right now are intuitions. Here are some of them:
- "energy", not space
- "organism", not space
- "motivation", not space

What do you think? And which metaphors do you use thinking it?

Recap: 10 Digital Communication Phenomena that Impact How Brand Building Works.

Communication in the digital space is often described in terms of platforms, formats and certain media touch points. (See illustration on the left - which I found here.) But what are the forces created by those platforms that impact brand leadership in the digital space?

1 Emancipation

Passive audiences become rather agents & producers (though by far not all of them!). People are better informed & media savvier than ever before & accept less bullshit (at least from corporations). 

It's not true that brands cannot communicate messages to audiences any longer - they still can. It's just that their messages lose unopposed credibility & share of voice in this emancipated world. Communicating one-way messages TO people becomes more difficult.

2 Voluntary Choice

The vast variety of media & content makes people free to choose but also overloaded by available options.  

Brands – in the digital world – should rather deliver content / utility that will be chosen by people voluntarily. On the other hand they have to be found - since people use all sorts of filters to make their choices (social filters, search engines, ...)

3 Transparency

Little can be hidden. All sorts of information can be found, compared and shared in the digital space.

Brands can not just rely on "lean messaging" that highlights certain positive aspects. Other aspects will come up even if they don't want them to.

4 Humaneness

Digitally mediated communication happens between more and more between people - although not exclusively so.

Brands in the digital social space rather should acquire a more human, personal touch and tone: less abstract, less perfect, less efficient, less "official", often more rooted in actual employees. 

5. Collaboration

There's not just communication but also conjoint value creation going on. Between brands & people even less than between allied people. E.g. when they start sharing things instead of buying them.

Brands could use people as cooperation partners not just consumers. I'm not very fond of this notion (I think there's too much democratic ideology to it) but I believe that at least on thing is definitely true: "people out there" often produce far more interesting & beneficial stuff than brands do. So brands need to cope with that or benefit from that somehow.

6 Social Diffusion

Content travels - through peoples' hands.

Brands have the possibility not just to attract people but also to distribute their communication through being interesting or useful to people. - instead of buying media space. 

7 Users

"Content" or "format" of communication used to be rather text, pictures, sound, moving pictures. Now "Software" is a new kind of "content"/"format". Apps, Games, etc. Instead  of being read or watched of listened to, these media objects are being used.

Brands can engage in software creation (in it's broadest sense, of course). 

8 Mediatization of Everything

Before there was "life" (and consumption an that kind of stuff) and there were media. Now life and media are much more interwoven. Think of mobile internet, augmented reality, eCommerce as such)

Brand communication could start caring more about the different contexts of life in which communication occurs.

 9. Speed

Communication in the digital space is faster.

Brand & organizations should develop a capability of deciding, reacting & communicating faster. (Being reactive in this field is a far less negative term compared to the world of classical brand comms.)

10. Hypes

Social mechanisms and speed of innovation generate "hot stuff" every second. They mostly come and go. New formats become talked about, then disappear. People talk of the "Age of so and so", but most of those "Ages" can be replaced by another one within 2-3 years.

Brands should not panic. Most things don't work for them. No ned to participate in every hype out there. Entering a game late does not necessarily mean losing the game.

Experience Design Approach

Possible Visual Representations in Channel Planning (1)

Opportunities for Brand Building via Social Marketing...

...seem to be bigger when ...
1. Potential to improve your offering digitally is high
2. Sales happen online
3. People talk about your brand already
4. Your brand is well known enough to be talked about
5. Your brand is not well known but the awareness figures you need are minute compared to those of   
    mass marketing brands.
6. Your brand can't afford classical mass media
7. Involvement with the product category is high
8. Involvement with the brand is high at least in some TGs
9. The brand's or its products' benefits are not trivial for people & society 
10. The focused TG is highly digitalized
11. You explicitly & deliberately want to loyalize and emotionally bind of your fans / most valuable clients
12. Your brand's image would be rather damaged by not taking part in new media / new trends
13. ...???...

I think i have something here I REALLY like

Jobs-to-be-done Paradigm: A Typology of Sub-Tasks in Every Human Behavior

Analysis of hundreds of jobs has revealed that all jobs consist of some or all of eight fundamental process steps:

  • define
  • locate
  • prepare
  • confirm
  • execute
  • monitor
  • modify
  • conclude.

The POST Method of Social Media Planning


von Stefan Stumpp (Student Master MBU, Hochschule Anhalt)
„Die Medien sind nicht mehr ordentlich in kleine Kästchen unterteilt, die Zeitungen, Magazine und Fernsehen heißen. Die Leute stellen Verbindungen zu anderen Leuten her und ziehen daraus Kraft, insbesondere als Masse.“[1]
Mit diesem Zitat beschreiben Charlene Li und Josh Bernoff in ihrem Buch Groundswell : winning in a world transformed by social technologiesaktuelle Herausforderungen, mit denen Unternehmen in Zeiten der sozialen Technologien konfrontiert sind. Die neue Interaktion ermöglicht es erstmals auch den Konsumenten, persönliche Ansichten und Einstellungen über Unternehmen zu verbreiten. Daraus resultiert eine Notwendigkeit für Organisationen, ebenfalls an den Gesprächen teilzunehmen.
Charlene Li und  Josh Bernoff liefern mit dem POST-Planungsprozess einen systematischen Rahmen für eine Social Media-Strategie. Das AkronymPOST beschreibt die vier Planungsschritte people, objectives, strategy und technology.
Zunächst muss vom Unternehmen die Zielgruppe für das jeweilige Produkt oder die Dienstleistung definiert werden. Anschließend ist eine Prüfung der Internetaktivitäten der Zielgruppe erforderlich. Dieser Schritt ist notwendig um zu erfahren, welche Social Media-Kanäle wirklich von den potentiellen Konsumenten genutzt werden. Eine Betrachtungsweise für die Internetaktivitäten der User liefert die Social-Technographics-Leiter von Forrester Research.
Abbildung 1: Social-Technographics-Leiter [2]
Diese Abbildung liefert eine soziotechnografische Sichtweise und klassifiziert die Konsumenten nach ihren Internetaktivitäten. Je höher sich die Sprosse befindet, desto aktiver sind die Nutzer. Die Verteilung der Internetnutzer auf die definierten Gruppen der Social-Technographics-Leiter variiert je nach Geschlecht, Alter und nationaler Herkunft. Forrester Research hat das Consumer Profile Tool entwickelt, welches auf Grundlage von Datenanalysen eine genaue Zusammensetzung der Nutzergruppen darstellen kann.
Der zweite  Schritt sollte die Unternehmen dazu veranlassen, spezifische Ziele zu definieren. Li und Bernoff benennen fünf Hauptziele, welche nicht primär auf betriebswirtschaftliche Zwecke gründen, sondern auf den Aufbau von langfristigen Beziehungen mit den Konsumenten:
Unter Zuhören versteht man die Analyse der Verbraucheraktivitäten im Internet, um Aufschlüsse über Kundenfeedback, Unternehmensreputation etc. zu erhalten. Verbraucher bloggen ihre Erfahrungen in Diskussionsforen oder geben Bewertungen über Produkte ab. Durch Zuhören lässt sich überprüfen, inwieweit Markenbotschaft und die Einstellung der Konsumenten zur Marke übereinstimmen. Es ist möglich, Informationen über Wettbewerber zu erlangen oder Reputationskrisen im Internet frühzeitig zu erkennen, um schnellstmöglich darauf zu reagieren. Letztendlich können die Verbraucher sogar Anstöße für neue Produkt- und Marketingideen geben. Für die professionelle Analyse dieser Informationen existieren zwei Vorgehensweisen: Die Gründung einer Private Community oder Brand-Monitoring.
Um mit den Verbrauchern in den sozialen Medien einen Dialog aufzubauen, existieren verschiedene Handlungsvarianten. Li und Bernoff beschränken sich auf die am häufigsten angewendeten Methoden. Dass sind die Verbreitung viraler Videos, eine Beteiligung an den sozialen Netzwerken, Blogs und die Gründung einer eigenen Community.
Dies beschreibt das Verhalten von Unternehmen, eigene Kunden als virale Vermarkter zu gewinnen. Diese verbreiten den Nutzen der Marke bzw. des Produktes, ohne dabei größere Kosten zu verursachen. Dies geschieht auf dem Wege der Online-Mundpropaganda und hat wesentliche Vorteile. Empfehlungen von Kunden sind glaubhafter als Werbekampagnen und aufgrund der viralen Verbreitung verstärkt sich der Werbeeffekt. [1] Ziel der Energisierung ist es, aufgrund von Weiterempfehlungen neue Kunden zu gewinnen. Bewertungen von Produkten, wie man sie beispielsweise auf Amazon findet, sind ebenfalls eine Form der Energisierung.
Diese Zielstellung soll es ermöglichen, dass sich die Konsumenten bei Support-Fragen und technischen Problemen gegenseitig online unterstützen. Dadurch können aus Unternehmenssicht enorme Kosten für Call Center oder Hotlines eingespart werden. Für die User muss eine Grundlage, z.B. ein Support-Forum, geschaffen werden. Diese Foren sind geeignet für Unternehmen, welche Produkte anbieten, die besonders viele Fragen aufwerfen (z.B. Technologieprodukte). Eine noch engere Form der Kollaboration findet man bei einem Wiki. Dies ist eine Website, die inhaltlich auch von den Konsumenten bearbeitet werden kann.
Durch die kollektive Nutzung können Unternehmensbeschäftigte und Kunden eine enorme Informationssammlung erstellen. Das geistige Eigentum aller Nutzer ist zu jeder Zeit abrufbar und kann erweitert werden. Voraussetzung für beide Formen, Wiki und Support-Forum ist, dass ein Unternehmen genug Kunden besitzt, welche auch Beiträge liefern.
Li und Bernoff deuten Integration als die wirkliche Einbeziehung der Kunden in die Entwicklungs- und Innovationsprozesse von Produkten. Somit werden die Kunden ein integraler Bestandteil im Gesamtprozess der Produkterstellung. [1] Kunden können aus ihrer externen Sichtweise und in kollaborativer Zusammenarbeit schneller Informationen liefern als Forschungs- und Entwicklungsabteilungen. Dies liegt daran, dass die Konsumenten unvoreingenommen mit dem Produkt interagieren und Verbesserungsmöglichkeiten oftmals direkt erkennen. Ein Kundenkontakt über das Internet verläuft zudem schneller als eine klassische Umfrage oder Studie.
Der POST-Planungsprozess bildet bereits eine grundlegende Strategie für Unternehmen, um ihre Kommunikationskanäle in die sozialen Medien zu integrieren. Li und Bernoff beschreiben in ihrem dritten Planungsschritt (strategy) die Veränderung der Beziehungen zwischen Unternehmen und Kunden sowie die Einbindung der Kunden in das Unternehmen. [1] Allerdings wurde die neue Rolle der Konsumenten bereits ausreichend, im Zusammenhang mit den von Li und Bernoff genannten Zielen, erläutert.
Nach Li und Bernoff sollte die Betrachtung nicht ausschließlich auf der Verwendung einer bestimmten Technologie liegen. Unternehmen müssen ein Verständnis für die Technologie und deren Nutzer entwickeln. Dies ist von Bedeutung, da sich die Technologien ständig weiterentwickeln.
„Erstens verändern die Technologien sich schnell. Zweitens sind sie nicht der entscheidende Punkt – das sind die Kräfte, die im Groundswell am Werk sind.“ [1]
Die folgende Tabelle gibt eine Übersicht über die Technologien, klassifiziert nach der Art der Partizipation der Onlinekonsumenten und nach ihrer Bedeutung für die Unternehmen:
Tabelle 1: Technologie-Übersicht in Anlehnung an Li und Bernoff [2]
Der vorgestellte POST-Planungsprozess von Li und Bernoff soll für Unternehmen ein Leitfaden, für die Integration ihrer Kommunikationskanäle in den sozialen Medien, bieten. Die angebotenen Inhalte sollten darüber hinaus folgenden qualitativen Eigenschaften unterliegen: Das KUDOS-Modell [3] beschreibt die Kriterien:
  • Knowledgable,
  • Useful,
  • Desireable,
  • Open,
  • Shareable
Die Eigenschaft knowledgable besagt, dass die Social Media-Aktivitäten für den Konsumenten einen Wiedererkennungswert bieten sollten. Eine Kampagne, die keinen Zusammenhang zum Unternehmen aufweist, bietet somit auch nur einen geringen Wert.
Außerdem sollte mit dem preisgegeben Inhalt ein Nutzen für die Konsumenten geboten werden: Useful. Dadurch kann die Wahrnehmung einer Kampagne gesteigert werden. Social Media-Aktivitäten können z.B. einen Nutzen stiften, indem sie für den Konsumenten wichtige Informationen liefern.
Eine Ergänzung zum Kriterium Useful stellt  die Eigenschaft Desireable dar. Hierbei sollte der Inhalt, neben der Orientierung am Nutzen, als begehrenswert gestaltet sein. Dies kann beispielsweise durch Spiele-Applikationen oder Gewinnspiele realisiert werden.
Ein weiteres Erfolgskriterium unterstreicht die Offenheit und Ehrlichkeit aller Maßnahmen in den sozialen Medien des Internets (Open). Dies schafft eine Grundlage für das Vertrauen der Konsumenten. Eine authentische und transparente Kommunikation gehört laut Weinberg zu den Verhaltensregeln der sozialen Medien. [4]
Zuletzt sollte es für Konsumenten möglich sein, auf dargebotene Inhalte problemlos zugreifen zu können (Shareable). Somit kann eine schnellere Verbreitung gewährleistet werden. Sinnvoll für die Verbreitung von Content sind Download-Möglichkeiten, RSS-Feeds oder Social Bookmarking-Dienste.
[1] Li, C., Bernoff, J. (2009), Facebook, YouTube, Xing & Co – Gewinnen mit Social Technologies, Carl Hanser Verlag München
[2] Michelis, D., Schildhauer T. (2010), Social Media Handbuch, Baden-Baden
[3] Gruber, G. (2008), Planungsprozess der Markenkommunikation in Web 2.0 und Social Media, VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, Saarbrücken
[4] Weinberg, T. (2010), Social Media Marketing: Strategien für Twitter, Facebook & Co, O’Reilly Verlag, Köln

The Role of Advertising in High-End Luxury Marketing. Is great advertising any good?

The Patek Philippe advertising case study.

"You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely take care of it for the next generation. - Begin your own tradition."

Now, this is obviously belongs into the planners' Hall of Fame. At least 3 great insights can be detected here in retrospective:

1) Buying a watch for $70.000 can make you feel guilty, thus needs to be justified.

2) Really good watches have a really long life - longer than your's is.

3) Most millionaires are self made men. But they long for some sort of dynastic touch to their family.

Apart from the execution style this is really great work. If I would have done this one I wouldn't question my capabilities ever again. Well, I haven't. Next time maybe.

But this is not the story I want to tell here. My thoughts revolve around a doubt that I have about all this. Is maybe even the greatest manipulative advertising idea rather diminishing the super-premium aura of the brand?

You see, we are not talking about a bag for $3000,-. These products cost up to $300.000. They really are luxury. They are so luxury that they even wouldn't use the word luxury because this sounds cheap. These brands (Patek Philippe, A. Lange & Söhne, Breguet, etc.) have an average price at least 3 times higher than a Rolex. Can you raise their perceived value through adding a psychological twist to it? Does the twist itself (the ad idea) have an impact on their propensity to want or buy the watch?

Maybe you think "Yes, where's the problem". Well, the problem is: the strategy techniques used are absolutely borrowed from premium-price or even mid-price products like let's say a Nissan:

1) There is a positioning thinking behind this ads: "Patek Philippe. The Inheritance."
2) There is an appellative lifestyle claim that tells you what to do: "Begin your own tradition"
3) There are models depicting "You" as the brand thinks you are
4) In some of the executions there is even an attempt to trigger your love for children visually (= "to emotionalize the brand")

This is almost perfect - say- for a Nissan. Or Nike. But this is exactly the point: don't people who pay 80,000,- for a watch simply feel that this is "just advertising" - or even mass advertising? And can you sell absolute exclusivity with a mass advertising appeal? What does this tell them about the brand?  That they "need" advertising, an "advertising trick"?
Just in case you think I'm advocating some sort of "new, 1on1, digital whatever conversations" as opposed to mass advertising principles - not at all! At this prices, conversations are face-to-face and carried out by professional jewelers in suits we could probably never afford. There is enough conversation going on about Patek. Online as well. The difference being: those who blog and talk about watches don't have the money to buy them - at least not 1st hand from Patek. And besides: the whole conversational, digital etc. marketing is even more typical for mass-market brands.

Let's rather stress some strategy concerns rather than channels & mechanisms.
Is the notion of "positioning" or "proposition" applicable here?
Should a brand like Patek talk to "you" and "your life" overtly?
Should Patek "emotionalize"?
Can or should Patek "add" anything to what they already are?

I guess the problem is that enhancing product perceptions through an emotional proposition or some sort of life style promise to some degree implies that there is room for improvement. If it really is the absolute high END of luxury and quality - why do they advertise? Isn't an emotional promise rather there for brands that need to promise something more than the product delivers? Coca-Cola needs an emotional promise because it's caffeine water and sugar. How can the most perfect mechanical jewelry need an "added value"?

I don't know if my concerns are justified. What do you think?