Time-starved Consumers Seek ‘Brand Butlers’

March 29, 2010

The convergence of consumers with limited time and the ease of providing mobile online services is creating a new class of service-oriented “brand butlers,” according to consumer insights firm trendwatching.com.

trendwatching.com defines brand butlers as brands that focus on assisting consumers to make the most of their lives, as opposed to the traditional branding model of selling consumers a lifestyle or identity.

Although trendwatching.com identifies the growing sophistication of mobile online services as crucial to the development of brand butlers, the company advises that offline services such as permanent or pop-up branded spaces and lounges tied to a specific event (music festival) or location (airport) can qualify as brand butlers. trendwatching.com also advises that brand butlers go above and beyond top-quality products and services, so providing excellent customer service is not enough on its own to become a brand butler.

Eight Key Brand Butler Categories

1. Transparency & “In the Know”: Transparency has to do with giving customers access to vital (process or product) information that a company until now may have used for internal purposes only. In the know services are often offered by brands that in the end are (or want to be) all about lifestyle.
2. Saving money: This means going out of your way to help customers save money in their daily lives with services such as automated services for locating transportation. It does not include coupons, price comparison services or other programs that are part of the standard selling process.
3. Finding: Helping people find information that is relevant and timely, going above and beyond what is now expected from every corporate site, manual or brochure. Mobile technology is a key driver in this category.
4. Connectivity: This includes social networks of consumers with a specific interest, such as travel, as opposed to social networks built around specific brands.
5. Health, nutrition & exercise: Wellness and healthy lifestyle brands have an innate advantage in offering brand butler services that provide information and community to health-conscious consumers.
6. Skills & advice: Skills, knowledge and manners are the new status symbols, and thus helping consumers acquire those skills and insights (closely linked to a brand essence) is a sure win.
7. Eco: Assisting consumers in making their behavior more “green,” especially if it saves money in the process.
8. Tools & amenities: In this category are all kinds of online and offline tools, spaces and amenities to assist consumers in their search for comfort and problem-solving. Some of the information-based services in this category differ from the “Finding” category, by virtue of their ability to deliver something more than just directions.

Consumers Seek Functionality
In a further sign that consumers are seeking service above all, earlier research from trendwatching.com indicates that consumers want products and services which are simple, small and/or cheap, with a dash of sustainability.

trendwatching.com calls these products and services “functionall,” or providing function for all. Often designed for lower-income consumers in emerging markets, they also have broader crossover appeal for more affluent consumers in mature markets. Look for brand manufacturers to produce more of these products, and for more global brands to try to penetrate mature economies.

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