We inherit many things from our families: personality traits, meager savings accounts, fingers, toes -- and we also inherit brands. It's hard to pinpoint exactly when it happens. That day your mom sent you to the store after you first got your license? Or maybe that first Target run in college? The day you said, “I do!” Somewhere along the way, you picked up a product simply because it was used by a loved one.
So what is brand inheritance? It’s when you and I inherit brands from our loved ones without question or concern. They influence our shopping habits long after we stop living with our families, begin shopping for ourselves or start living with someone as a couple. We simply buy the brands because that is what our friends and family have always used. We trust their opinions, we think they’re cool, we’re comfortable with those brands and we really don’t have a good reason to make a change.
Brand inheritance to me means Bounty paper towels, Kleenex and Dawn dish soap. It means driving far distances to shop at Giant Eagle. It means buying Iams cat food, Clinique makeup and GAP clothing.
Not only have I inherited brands from my family, but they also came from my peers. While I attended John Carroll University, we were anything but shy when it came to recommending a North Face jacket and UGG boots as the uniform for the winter wonderland that is Cleveland. Throughout the years, I’ve also passed on brands to my family and friends.
All of this seems like common sense that we inherit brands. Then, we influence others and maybe someday pass "our brands" onto our own families, but what if you want to break that cycle? What if your business is the new brand on the block and needs to start some new traditions? Here are a few tips to work your way into a valuable inheritance:
Earn a Trial
Your business has a value that it adds to an individual or organization’s life. It is your first order of business to tell people about that value and prove it to them. Through integrated marketing, you can reach those consumers and give them a reason to try your product or service.
Encourage Feedback to Promote Adoption
If someone does take the leap of faith to try your product or service, give them a place to talk about it. If you do, they can recommend it to a friend, family member or total stranger. This is more easily achieved now due to social media and the instant sharing it offers. Consumers can share their positive experiences as well as their negative ones, so you need to be prepared for both.
You must listen. If you open the doors for discussion of your brand, make sure you monitor what people are saying. Coming from a retail background, I’m a firm believer in something we were always told: “I’d rather have them complain and buy again than say nothing and never come back!” If they have a complaint and you address it promptly and remedy the situation, you are more likely to turn that consumer into a repeat customer. If you ignore a negative comment or take too long to respond, you will most likely lose them for good and they may spread those negative feelings to their brand heirs.
To bring your brand into an inheritance situation or conversation, it must build and maintain the trust and comfort consumers expect. They have to feel the love and they will then share their love for the brand with family and friends, passing it on for generations to come.
About the author::
Thea Letteri is an account coordinator at thunder::tech. She is fiercely loyal to her inherited brands, but can be swayed by innovative ideas, neat marketing campaigns and peer pressure.