A new Corporate Executive Board survey of 7,000 consumers showed that less than one in five have a relationship with a brand.
According to CEB researchers, consumers reserve the word relationship for friends, family and colleagues (and, in my case, dogs). One typical response opined, “It's just a brand, not a member of my family.” Yes but, truth be told, I have a better relationship with BMW than with some members of my extended family.
To make matters worse, brands are exacerbating the dating and mating game by totally overwhelming us with their nonsensical messaging (aka advertising). CEB spokespeople say the survey's overarching message is this: stop bombarding consumers who DON'T want relationships “…through endless emails or complex loyalty programs.” Amen, brothers and sisters.
In my case, United, Comcast and New Jersey Transit (aka The Unholy Tripartite) constantly rub salt in the wound of a relationship that never existed in the first place. They inundate me with e-mails, blind me with numbing TV commercials and, in United's case, send me TripAlerts telling me the 45-minute delay just announced by an out-of-touch gate agent, is now an indefinite one.
Marketing executives need to leave their plush corner offices, lose their top down, inside out way of thinking and put themselves in their audience's shoes. If they only would, they'd GET that we don't want relationships with their products. Nor do we want an endless plethora of promotional messaging that exacerbates an already out-of-control world of information overload. What we want is to engage with them on our terms and in a channel that we dictate.
In my opinion, less is more. And, authenticity is the currency of the day. United, Comcast and NJT (and, countless other brands) should stop boasting about their amazing service and start admitting the reality of their shoddy ways. Be honest with me and, maybe, just maybe, I'll consider some sort of relationship with you. But, don't assume anything on the first date. You've hurt me and I'm fragile. You'll be lucky to get a peck on the cheek.
And a tip o' Repman's cap to South Jersey's legendary publicist Greg Schmalz for the idea.