The human side of brand growth

Consider the importance of listening to people’s stories before you tell your own

From a very young age, stories are how we learn, discover and share our world with others. We are as eager to share stories as we are captivated by them. But how these stories are told has changed dramatically from generation to generation.

In recent years, the astronomical rise of Facebook Messenger, WeChat, WhatsApp and TikTok has spurred a new era of habitual micro-storytelling. These candid moments have not only created a space for us to express ourselves and connect with more people than ever before, but they also present the perfect opportunity for brands to listen more.

Brands can now measure sentiment from sample groups made up of millions rather than hundreds of people, thanks to artificial intelligence and consumers willing to share their days moment by moment. Collecting these moments at scale means that we can gain a whole new understanding of our audience. So, how do we do this?

Using chatbots to listen

One way to listen to our consumers better is through chatbots. Chatbots are designed to let people tell their stories about a category and the brands they use, while leveraging the platforms they are already familiar with. Using a bot allows you to deliver a friendly, engaging and intuitive experience, with carefully crafted dialogue to support depth and authenticity.

As with any good conversation, a bot listens and responds intelligently to make people feel truly heard.

Using AI-triggered probing, we can create an intelligent dialogue that helps us generate deeper insight into the areas that matter to the brand, while also surfacing what really matters to the people we engage with this way. Using AI, we can also review text-based analytics to help us surface the themes that emerge organically across these stories. This allows us to collect micro-stories with extraordinary richness and context at scale.

Based on the hundreds of micro-stories we have seen unfold in this context, we know that such stories hold the potential to bring brands much closer to the people they serve.

Case study: learning through Jamie-bot

In a recent study, Kantar focused on understanding the taste of whiskey. The brand we were helping grow was struggling with its meaning and differentiation. It wanted us to help amplify its taste credentials in a way that matters to people.

But taste is a challenging feature to dissect as people often find it difficult to articulate exactly what it means to them. It is emotive, subjective and often context driven. To uncover actionable growth insights for this brand, we needed to gain a much closer understanding of the emotion and context associated with the whiskey.

So we brought in our friendly chatbot, Jamie-bot, to ask people about their favourite whiskey brands and why they love them.

Taking cues from their initial responses, Jamie-bot probed deeper into varying aspects of taste to unpack what people love about whiskey, how brands achieve the taste and why it is important to them. Looking at these conversations together, we could unpack descriptors, context and deeper motivations – we could hear what matters most to people in their own words.

We discovered that our client’s brand had the opportunity to overtly link taste, aroma and flavour to treasured memories in order to differentiate itself more meaningfully.

“I like the bold smokiness of my brand,” said one person. “I also enjoy plenty of non-smoky whiskey. But I really enjoy the complexity it adds to the other flavours that are in there.”

Another said: “For me, my brand’s smokiness is more akin to being at a bonfire than peated grains. The very first sip I had of the stuff, and my memories were of every campfire or bonfire I’ve been to. So, I guess why I think they do it so well is because of how it instantly triggers memories when I drink it.”

We get a much clearer illustration of the human experience in the micro-stories people share with us through open and exploratory chatbot conversations. This human connection helps us generate qualitative data at scale, which in turn allows us to create value. It lets us uncover what we did not know, to gain a wider perspective and to deepen our empathy with people’s real-world experiences. It gives us a window into their world.

To help grow your brand, consider the importance of really listening to people’s stories before you tell your own. Stories bring us closer to the human side of brands. They give us an immersive, tangible and relatable understanding that shows us what matters to people and how they differentiate between brands. As a result, they help brands tell their own stories in a much more powerful and authentic way.

Read more from BrandZ’s Top 30 Most Valuable South African Brands 2020 report

Ansie Lombaard & Karlien Kriegler


published on

21 October 2020


Technology & innovation Experience

Related Topics

Artificial intelligence Consumer behaviour

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