Customer centric brand marketing

As soon as the sunshine arrived this year, so did my inclination to consume more ice cream… as I perused the freezer aisle, I spotted some leopard-print packaging for my double chocolate Magnum.

While it’s been around for a while, it got me thinking about how much times are a-changing, and how Magnum is a great example of a brand that has totally embraced the requirement for change.

Brand marketing

Brands no longer have the power to control how, where or when audiences engage with them, if at all, and it’s been a game-changer. The digital revolution has enabled freedom of choice and given the power to the individual like never before, now we have customer-centric brand marketing. As a consumer it’s awesome. We can watch what we want when we want. We can purchase anytime, anywhere and enjoy quick delivery straight to our door. Never before has our voice been more powerful. There is no longer a place for bad service to hide.

For customer centric brands, however, it’s a bit of a problem. The fundamental need to move an audience from awareness to engagement to purchase remains the same, but making your customers aware you even exist has never been more challenging. How do we operate now the tables have fully turned and the control is completely in the hands of the customer?

By putting the customer first.

According to Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose, in their book, Killing Marketing:

“Brands need to shift from product-centricity to audience-centricity”

They call for consumer experience marketing leaders to stop marketing products and instead act as media businesses that focus on building audiences.

And that’s what Magnum has done. It’s a great example of a brand that’s clearly invested in innovative customer experiences, who are looking to connect in deeper and more engaging ways, which get shared in their thousands on social media. But it’s a delicate balance to strike to create a killer campaign.

Magnum ice cream marketing strategy

Let’s take the Magnum Double as our example. When it launched in 2016, Nicola Rolfe, brand manager for Magnum at Unilever said

“We want to inspire consumers to dare to go double and embrace pleasure with our new delicious flavours, which are unique in the chocolate ice cream category.”

The integrated brand centric campaign included traditional TV advertising – Magnum – #ReleaseTheBeast Double chocolate but also campaigns on social media combined with digital and real-world experiential activity. While I loved the packaging and advertising campaign it was the experiential aspect that was particularly innovative, because it took a holistic approach to the digital and real-world experience, and how they connected.

Brand strategy

Magnum created pop-up flagship Pleasure Stores and labelled customers as Pleasure Seekers. They invited Pleasure Seekers to create their own Magnum ice-cream, encouraging creativity and inventiveness with a choice of 18 different flavours, including black lava salt and rose petals. And of course, encouraged the sharing of their inventions on social media.

But it didn’t stop there, they also partnered with Blippar, using Augmented Reality Digital Placement (web-based AR experiences that don’t require a separate app or device) to allow customers to virtually create their very own Magnum ice cream marketing brand strategy via their smartphone. Users could see ice cream coatings, toppings and drizzles in 180º all around them. The augmented reality experience immersed users in Magnum’s 18 different flavours, with the idea being that these creations could be redeemed at the Magnum Pleasure Store. You can try the experience for yourself here (view it on mobile for the best experience!)

The campaign created powerful opportunities for Magnum to enrich the customer experience in the real world and used disruptive technology in a fun and unique way. They put the customer at the heart of the campaign, encouraged their creativity and let their taste buds lead the way.

With the sad news this week that my beloved M&S is planning to close 100 high street stores over the next four years, could this kind of customer experience marketing help save the UK high street?

Patrick Hammond thinks so. In his article “Why a jar from the Marmite Store is worth more than a regular jar” he said:

“No longer is the high street a functional and transactional depot of stuff – that depot is now online. Instead, the high street has become a place for experience. A place to procure but also to trial, create memories, cultivate a lifestyle and seek out experiences. Which is exactly what many marketing campaigns are seeking to do.”

Consumer engagement

Some forward-thinking brands have already capitalised on this shift. Marmite, a brand not previously known to have its own store, has entered the high street and plugged into the growing retail experience economy. For Marmite, whose consumer connection is often at arm’s length, it’s a fantastic opportunity to build genuine consumer engagement and equity. Its pop-up at Westfield London gave customers the chance to purchase a personalised jar of the spread and to choose a ‘naughty’ or ‘nice’ label to accompany the name, complete with illustrations.

A Marmite jar purchased from the Marmite Store was significantly more expensive than one you can buy in the supermarket, but the value, in the truest sense of the word, is higher. It comes with the memories, warmth and depth of the experience that went with it.

Using the high street as a window to the new and a space in which to play isn’t about buying more stuff, but participating in and purchasing experiences. Consumers want stories and retail spaces give us the platform to create them, which builds that special sense of being an insider.

And it doesn’t necessarily have to be a real-world thing. Our #SelfieWithShakespeare project is a great example of the power of social media via a user-generated, audience-centric campaign. It resulted in a 200% lift in social for our client the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (and got nominated for a Social Buzz award along the way). Read more about it here.

I think where I’ve got to with all of this is the more convenient and digital our lives have become the more we crave the physical and unique. This means that as brands wanting to capture the attention of our audience, we need to be audience-centric and put our customers at the centre of our marketing activity. It’s the key to successful campaigns and cultivating the brand devotees we all need.

I bet you’re off to buy a Magnum after reading this, aren’t you? Enjoy.

Written by Emily Wright

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