From Product to Partner: Adding Value Beyond the Basics

Written byBen Johannemann
April 28, 2020

Just selling your product is no longer enough. These days, it’s key for companies to innovate in terms of what they offer consumers.

In uncertain times like these, consumer sensitivity to brands being thoughtful and careful with their messaging is at an all-time high — and, from moral support to news source to activity provider, brands are taking on new roles to offer way more than just their core product to customers. And the brands that get it right are engendering goodwill that will last beyond the current global health crisis. The most critical element is to keep the core tenets of your brand’s consumer value proposition in mind when deciding how to engage with your community. For brands that are successfully expanding their offerings to support, inform, help, and be useful in new ways for their consumers, the positive feedback and goodwill is waiting.

While a discount is appreciated and a general sensitivity in tone is expected, being innovative in the ways that a brand approaches community engagement is critical. Clear trends have recently emerged in the way that brands are approaching social media and ad messaging — with some landing better than others, often if there is a clear charitable or community-focused component.

In fact, 84 percent of consumers surveyed in a recent Edelman report say they want brands to use social media channels to offer support. Supporting employees has become a favored approach, from campaigns highlighting the heroic contributions of essential workers at Walmart to Patagonia publicly committing to paying its staff during store shutdowns.

For many brands, the simplest path is to extrapolate from the basic value proposition and then make it actionable for this unique moment in time. For example, organic baby food brand Little Spoon was not only able to keep delivering its fresh refrigerated products, allowing parents to skip going to the grocery store, but it created an entire content hub on its website dedicated to parenting tips on how to balance homeschooling and work, activities for stir-crazy little ones, and more. Similarly, Brightland started an Instagram Live series with recipes you can make using its olive oil.

Is it easier for brands like these with a narrow product offering to create these forward-thinking programs? Yes, but global mega-brands have also figured out how to create all-encompassing community moments. Recognizing the common denominator of fitness needs during the stay-at-home situation, Nike landed on their “Play Inside, Play for the World” program. They unlocked their premium training components on the Nike app to be free for all, and are organizing free live workouts on YouTube — and garnering millions of global participants. For those who miss the in-person camaraderie of classes or the simple use of a gym, Nike is filling those needs and creating a brand halo that will last. All of the above content, from cooking to working out, reestablishes some normalcy in people’s lives, helping them stay in a healthy routine, reduce anxiety, and establish a sense of community at an especially isolating time.

This presents an opportunity to go beyond standard services and be a source of valuable information and guidance. The way your brand moves forward as a support system in these uncertain times — and provides answers to consumer questions with clear, actionable messaging that allays fear and creates trust — can set it up for unprecedented success when the tides turn.


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