Fan Culture

In the early years we had ‘customers’.

Then we invented demographics and started using that horrible word ‘consumers’.

We went on line and started talking about ‘users’. (Sound like drug addicts to me)

I rather prefer the word people….

But if we do really well we might even develop some fans. And fans are what we should be aiming for. This doco below on fan culture looks interesting. I’d be keen to know if anyone has seen it. I even hear Sean the Sports Geek might even be in it…

And before you watch this trailer it’s worth having think about the things, people, ideas and brands that you are a fan of and why. There are some nice clues in this thought experiment.

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Brand Play

I am seriously in love with the Google maps 8 bit – bit for April fools day. So much so, that immediately after I write this post I will be going to Google maps to get my street and suburb (Yarraville) in screen shots in their 8 Bit version. You should too.

And by the way – brands that know how to play are brands that win. Especially in a startup world.

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Brand in decline – Qantas

I’ve been loyal to Qantas for a very long time. Initially because it was superior (certainly in the post Ansett environment) more recently because of irrational reasons and lack of choice. These days are now officially over. But rather than bore you with the number of brand fails I have had to endure, I’ll share with you the catalyst event which has now resulted in my decision.

Qantas regards itself as a full service airline. For these reasons I have been a loyal brand user – to the point where I have become a Gold Frequent Flyer. The bundle of benefits included features like high frequency of flights, safety record (although that is questionable now), lounge access at airports, on board service, on board entertainment, a global alliance flying scheme to name a few things.

When traveling on business I really like knowing I will get a meal when leaving directly from work, time is limited and it is one less thing I need to think about. It was good to know my 7pm flight two days ago included ‘Dinner‘ pre-flight as can be seen below. So there can be no disputing, what Qantas believe they are providing.

Unfortunately when dinner arrived – it didn’t quite meet my expectations.

In fact, I feel insulted by Qantas that they call this dinner. It’s plan rude. If you asked someone out for dinner – would you buy themĀ a sandwich? If you had people over for dinner, would you give them a sandwich?

When you insult customers they eventually take their business elsewhere.

This decision to save less than $5 on a hot dinner has resulted in Qantas losing my $25,000 I spend on air tickets per year. As now I will fly Virgin Australia domestically (now full service with decent lounges) and Singapore Airlines when going overseas (who are now linked to Virgin in Frequent Flyer schemes).

Yes, by trying to save $5, Qantas have just lost $25,000 from a Gold frequent Flyer.

For me it comes down to brand promise. It isn’t that I want too much, but what I do want what the brand promises me. And when the brand attempts to deceive, or save cost against their promise – that is when I look to other providers.

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Non Products

Today I noticed an outdoor advertisement for the local lotto here in Australia.

Their New Years Eve lotto draw: 31 Million Megadraw. Cleverly placed on the 31st of December.

It got me thinking about what people are really buying. I don’t think it is the chance to win. I don’t even think people are buying into hope. I think people are outsourcing their worries – they are buying the right to imagine what it could be like.

There are a lot of what I call non-products that people buy. Products and services which have no ‘real utility’. In this instance, lotto, they have bought some time to imagine the possibilities. But in some ways we could do this without the ticket… because the reality is we are not going to win.

I wonder what other Non Products fit into this category?

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My dad’s chevy

Every now and again a brand crosses the chasm. A brand goes from being a thing, to being an emotional ingredient. These moments are usually personal, they are hard to capture and share. But occasionally it is captured, and it takes us to an entire new understanding of what is possible when we create things with the end user in mind. In this instance, the car was first created with driver in mind. And then, the acquisition was created with a dad in mind.

Another example of great narrative that would not be possible in the limited media of yesteryear. What a beautiful brand story to share – Kudos to all involved.

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The Service Shift

I recently tweeted something that, I think deserves a more detailed explanation:

This is true for a few reasons.

A direct world: all customers can and will contact brand controllers directly. Information services and direct brand channels such as twitter mean that customers deserve and expect direct answers and interaction. Something only traditional service companies would once provide.

The manufacturing gap: Every year the chasm between between brands and manufacturing is widening. In fact, many of the worlds most adored brands don’t make what they sell. They either design and direct (eg Apple) or only make information (Facebook / Google). In fact consumer manufacturing stalwarts like Kraft and Proctor & Gamble produce far less than they ever have. The gap between makers and marketers will only continue to widen. And require traditional brand owners to become more service oriented in the process.

The virtual replacing the physical: Increasingly we are making and selling virtual goods. Goods that are consumed intellectually. Think video games – and then think far wider. Just because we can’t touch something, it does not mean it doesn’t provide significant utility. Paid for mobile apps and software are great examples, as is music in digital format. The CD only provided utility in that it delivered the music, nothing more.

Recently Marc Andresseen, was quoted as saying ‘Software is eating everything’ which is a very important statement. The shift is happening, and even if we still make stuff – increasingly our service orientation will be how we win.

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