What Britvic and O2 can teach brands about building customer relationships

From innovative pursuits to personalisation, Marketing Week finds out what brands like O2 and Britvic can teach marketers about forming long-lasting customer relationships.

1)    Focus on your brand’s human side

Forget about “customer is king”. Brands should treat their customers like friends instead, advocates Dragon’s Den investor Deborah Meaden.

Speaking at Europe’s Customer Festival in London today (8 September), Meaden said that today’s democratised environment means brands have to act much more intelligently.

“Marketing becomes a lot easier, as we stop thinking of them as customers and start seeing them as friends,” she said.

Throughout the customer journey, brands should focus on their human side.

“The way we evolve relationships with each other is how we should evolve relationships with our products. It’s about honesty,” Meaden added.

Besides building relationships with customers, brands need to also forge interdepartmental bonds. Successful companies look across their organisations and break down any silos.

“It’s about getting everyone in a room, and asking each department what customers find important from their point of view. This can heavily differ between divisions,” she said.

2)    Your brand should matter to people

Besides forming close relationships with consumers, brands should also aim to matter to people, said Britvic’s chief marketing officer Matthew Barwell.

“We may not be the biggest or outspend our competitors, but we can be the most dynamic, creative and admired,” he commented.

“In a FMCG world, to matter to more people is fundamental in achieving that vision.”

Britvic pursues this ambition through personalisation, emotional engagement and innovation.

Brands also need to show up consistently, which is where Barwell admits Robinsons previously went wrong.

“When trying to build emotional engagement, it’s important to be consistent and have people with you on that journey,” he added.

“Change can get in the way of that journey. It’s tempting to always keep moving forward.”

3)    Innovate on behalf of your customer

Innovation has been equally important to O2. In 2001, the company was given six months to turn itself around. “Not great in terms of prognosis,” said Nina Bibby, Telefonica’s marketing and consumer director.

As the company had nothing to lose, it focused heavily on innovation. 

Looking at its data, the brand found that the busiest hour to send texts was between 7-8pm. As a result, O2 decided to make texts within that hour free.

It also found that on average people call three numbers most frequently, which is why O2 offered 50% off on those numbers.

“Once again, we aimed to innovate on behalf of the customer,” she commented.

In 2013, the company faced heavy competition from value players, chat-style apps like WhatsApp, as well as a bout of new regulations.

“Excitement was generated by the likes of Apple and Facebook, not by us. We decided to make a change and redefine our brand purpose,” she said.

O2 took a more caring approach, stating its renewed brand mission as: “Possibilities of technology should be open to all”.

It also launched its O2 Guru service, which is solely focused on helping consumers and isn’t supported by any sales targets. Once its customers were made aware of the service, brand trust increased by 10%.

“Through our innovations, we saw that people were more likely to buy and stay with us,” Bibby concluded.

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