The experience is the metric

How to measure the moments that matter?

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Ultimately, success in the brand/retail experience must be measured, but what are the metrics? Unlike the past, in the traditional world of brand and marketing alone, measurement is not limited to the media/communications aspects of making brand/retail promises. Now that the remit has expanded across each and every possible interaction, the measurement mandate is considerably more complex. It stretches across the entire customer journey.

The “how” and “what” of measurement. No shortage exists with respect to means of measurement. The issue is not as much how to measure but determining what to measure. The question inevitably reverts back to the lack of alignment of goals and objectives across the organization. What Sales, Marketing and Shopper might consider a good result can — and apparently usually is — viewed quite differently.

Quantifying each and every interaction. These discrepancies must somehow be reconciled into a holistic view of success that accounts for the brand/retail experience in total. It’s not enough just to capture media impressions or document sales lifts. The challenge is to somehow quantify how each and every interaction either contributes to or subtracts from the brand/retail experience. Measurement must factor in the three other dimensions of the overall enterprise: organization, innovation and implementation.

    Organization: a shared interest in emotional engagement. The imperative is to acknowledge weakness and double down on the strengths of both Marketing and Shopper. Let’s admit it: too little of Marketing is relevant to people when they are deciding what to buy, and too much of Shopper corrodes brand image and identity. Marketing’s strength is its ability to communicate messages and raise awareness; Shopper’s strength is its ability to convert all of that great brand work into cold, hard cash.
    Marketing and shopper share a very important common goal: to engage and inspire the customer on an emotional level, but in different ways. With Marketing, it’s aligning with how consumers think about the brand; with Shopper it’s aligning with how consumers behave when they’re deciding which brands to buy. Both are equally invested in achieving the emotional engagement that is essential to brand health and growth. They simply do so in different ways, at different moments along the customer journey. Every moment matters.
    Innovation: the convergence of products and services. In marketing, innovation is traditionally thought of in terms of products but the context in which those products are experienced is equally important. As Tesla, Apple and others have demonstrated, products and services (i.e., brands and retail) are now one.

    Over the long-term, it’s important to keep in mind at least one thing Marketing and Shopper share: An interest in helping people become better versions of themselves. Michael Schrage details this concept in his book, Who Do You Want Your Customers To Become?

    Schrage’s theory is that it’s no longer sufficient simply to fulfill or satisfy a customer’s expectations, or even exceed them in the usual sense. Truly forward-thinking enterprises are leading their customers, and teaching them how to expand their personal potential. Examples include not only the usual suspects like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, but also IKEA, Southwest Airlines, Microsoft, Khan Academy and, yes, McDonalds.

    It’s little remembered now, but the idea of ordering food at a window and consuming it in your car represented a radical departure in consumer behavior in 1955. McDonald’s taught its customers a new way to eat, designed for the age of the automobile.

    Implementation: making moments that matter. Our research has shown that chief marketing officers believe they have no shortage of great ideas; it’s making the ideas work, at each and every interaction along the customer journey, that’s the challenge. As noted above, the brand/retail experience is tantamount to the customer’s journey and every opportunity to engage and build or erode the bonds of loyalty.

    Acknowledging that Marketing and Shopper are fellow travelers along the same customer journey would be a sensible place to start. Agreement that each complements the other along that journey really shouldn’t be a matter of contention. Both have roles to play with respect to touch-points both digital and analog, but again, in different ways.

    Recognizing each other’s respective talents is certainly a key imperative. That Marketing does a great job of building brand image and identity is beyond question. That Shopper knows how to translate those equities in the noisy, chaotic and crowded retail environment should be equally respected. Granted, the creative expression of that expertise could be improved in many cases, but perhaps that’s a fresh opportunity for Brand and Shopper to collaborate, combining the former’s aesthetic sensibilities with the latter’s insight into why shoppers behave the way they do.

    Storytelling is perhaps the most fundamental tie that binds the brand/retail experience, and Marketing with Shopper. The journey is a story that can and should be told differently, depending on who, what, when, where — and especially the why — of the stop along the way.

A new template for measuring health & growth

How to quantify the moments that matter? What are the implications of all of the above on the issue of measurement? It appears that measurement should be looked at differently, not only as the quantification of media impressions or sales lifts, but also in terms of engagement, both internally and externally.

Quantifying the conversation. Perhaps the most significant data point is a measure of how well people within each organizational silo are communicating with and understanding those in the other silos. At the very least, this could be a leading indicator of the organization’ health, and therefore its growth.

Mapping out measurement. Might the customer journey map itself provide a template upon which to track health and growth? Some quantification of the “moments that matter” along the way could be the most holistic, and therefore accurate, gauge of success.

The tipping point between heart & wallet. Success is often a function of the extent to which the customer is engaged, inspired or otherwise motivated on an emotional level along the journey. The balance between heart and wallet can be treacherous, however. The limitations of available metrics are telegraphed by Jeff Charney, chief marketing officer of Progressive Insurance, who succinctly observes: “Technologies cannot quantify feelings.”

Arby’s: We have the metrics! Arby’s president, Rob Lynch, aspires to rise to this challenge. “We need to explicitly show how we connect our insights to our sales and profits, or some other performance result,” he says. “When we invest in driving an intangible like ‘friendliness,’ we need to know that an uptick in that metric is the equivalent of a sales increase. Building that linkage is a big opportunity across the industry.” He adds: “It’s one thing to have the measurements. It’s another to believe in them, trust them and then make investments based on them.”

Up Next:

Part Six: Conclusion: Ask Not What Your Shopper Can Do For You

Past Episodes:

Part One: Shopper’s Brand New Bag
Part Two: Culture: Ground Control to Major Tom
Part Three: Innovation: Butch Cassidy & The Brand Experience
Part Four: Execution: Real-time Retail & Stranger Things

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