Customers are seeking a reason to do business with you

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Innovative technology is redefining what you need to do to appeal to today’s highly demanding consumers – from meeting their ever-higher expectations of convenience to developing deep emotional attachments. IBM Watson Commerce has developed a thought-provoking POV that outlines the recent, dramatic market changes and how they impact your ability to deliver a fulfilling customer experience.

We asked several industry luminaries to offer their insights on the topic as well and will be sharing them in a series of posts. In this one, Andrew Busby, Founder & CEO of Retail Reflections, reflects upon the importance of creating a brand that your customers not only admire but fully embrace.


I’m in the business of retail analysis. But as much as I know about consumer behavior, market trends, and the psychology of selling, I cannot escape one irrefutable fact: I’m a consumer, too. And I respond to brands much the way anyone else does.

For example, I’m into cars. I’m into cars BIG TIME. Fast cars. Ones with V8 engines. Loud V8 engines come to think of it. My latest is a Ferrari 458 Italia. 562bhp, 0-100kph in 3.4 seconds and costs the Earth. And I love it.

But more than that, I’m in love with the brand. Owning a Ferrari is not about gallons per horsepower or whatever. It’s about immersing yourself in everything the Prancing Horse has to offer: the passion for performance, the tradition of trend-setting design, the magic and mystique of a vehicle that transcends mere transportation to create an almost mystical driving experience. Right now, that Prancing Horse can do anything it wants and I’d still go back for more. Apple disciples will empathize with this.

 “On average, among shoppers who felt appreciated, 90% plan to stay with the brand.1

This is pure and simple emotional attachment, as psychologists would tell us. A battery-powered Tesla would be more efficient, cost less in tax, have less running costs, and let’s face it, would have a smaller carbon footprint. But still I want that Ferrari.

In many ways, it’s difficult to explain. Why are we attracted to certain brands while we disassociate ourselves from others? The answer can be found in how we view ourselves. Our own individual outlook largely governs how we perceive the world around us. This has a direct and immediate impact on the brands we either invite to be a part of our lives or those, for whatever reason, we choose to distance from ourselves.

This emotional attachment – or detachment – with brands is a powerful and deciding force on our buying behaviour. If we feel better by associating with a particular brand, then we are more likely to purchase from that brand and, in turn, feel good about ourselves.

If, on the other hand, a brand is inconsistent with our own personal values, we tend to steer clear and avoid. It’s a fragile ecosystem and one that can be prone to multiple influences, all of which exert different pressures.

But above all, we need that hook, that reason to engage. Appealing to our inner self, whether it’s commitment to a social cause or our need to feel good about ourselves, emotional attachment is built on trust.

And while that trust can be a strong bond, it is also a fragile relationship that needs to be constantly maintained by the brand. Neglect this for a moment, and in the blink of an eye we leave – beginning a new chapter, in a new relationship with some other brand, with just as much vigor and optimism.

Achieving brand preference is commendable. But driving brand conviction is a competitive imperative.

Learn how AI can help you establish enthusiastic brand advocates in this new economy of emotion. Read IBM’s inspirational POV, Deliver happiness: Engage, convert and fulfill your way to a differentiated customer experience – again and again.


1 Forrester, 2018 The US Multichannel Retailers Customer Experience Index, 2018.



Founder & CEO of Retail Reflections

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