Starting a new business may begin with a great idea, but once you’ve put a plan in place for how you’re going to create your main product or service, the next big step is to get it out into the marketplace. Much like the initial spark that leads to the creation of your business, a good branding strategy is all about inspiration and creative thinking—identifying your customer base, and anticipating their needs.
Your target audience will vary depending on the sector in which you operate. However, with millennials set to overtake baby boomers as the largest market demographic by next year, catering to their needs, and those of Generation Y—made up of those 22 and under—will be imperative to your success. To appeal to that demographic, the CEO of Danone believes, you should position yourself as a “committed brand…with authentic products”. Here are three ways you can improve your appeal by creating a brand strategy that will give your company a broad appeal to new, millennial consumers.
Provide consistent, authentic experiences instore and online
A recent PR survey has confirmed what the media has been hinting at for the last few years: nearly three-quarters of American consumers are more interested in experiences than products. This doesn’t mean that, as many fear, retail is dead, but simply that stores need to put more thought into the experiences they can offer their customers beyond what they sell. As retail design agency Prop Studios notes, brand experience should be “seamless…across all touchpoints”, from instore to online, creating a consistent story and message everywhere your new customers can see your brand.
This can range from creating an interactive website, building an online community for your customers, or offering incentives via social media. For brick-and-mortar retail, you may design a scheme that prioritises displays which are shareable via social media or, like Lush, offer a “sensory experience” at every turn. After all, an image of your store or product shared via social media makes for invaluable free advertising. Even good customer service is an authentic experience, as your staff will be creating an engaged personal interaction with consumers, and allow your brand to be known for its authentically helpful nature.
Brand transparency is key
Over the last few years, consumers have demanded a more honest and open approach from the brands they love. Forbes recently reported that the millennial mindset when it comes to deciding on a product is “based on the tenets of self, society, and the planet”. We’ll come to the latter shortly, but as far as self and society go, brands should be giving new consumers the opportunity to see the real them.
How you do this is entirely up to you. Some brands post footage of how their products are made, whilst some retailers display personalised staff recommendations instore, giving customers an insight into the kind of company—and people—they are dealing with. These practices and preferences can give some hints, subtle or otherwise, of where your brand stands on a political or personal front. As one Washington research study published earlier this year explains, “brand choices are increasingly used to project values in public and online”. So decide what you stand for, and be open about it.
Sustainability and ethical retail is a win for everyone
Making sure that your business is sustainable is another selling point that is worth integrating into your brand strategy. Companies like Hewlett Packard have credited their sustainability strategy with a $700 million uptick in profits last year. The strategy revolved around HP’s “ability to collect and reuse more plastics” for their products, as well as creating a greener supply chain across the board. Similarly, mattress startup Leesa recently won nearly $23 million in funding, thanks in no small part to their one-ten program, where the company donates one mattress to a homeless shelter for every ten they sell.
It may be difficult for new businesses to create a sustainability plan to this scale, but starting small—and letting your new customers know that you’ve started at all—can drastically improve your chances in the market. 78% of US consumers surveyed by Unilever in 2017 claim to “feel better when they buy products that are sustainably produced”, with 33% opting to make the majority of their purchases from environmentally conscious retailers.
So if you’re looking to give your new business as wide an appeal as possible to new consumers, be sure to bear these three things in mind.