Brand as bot

Consumer Brand Relationships 

A true relationship between a consumer and a brand forms from the alignment of values, expressed in a promise, resulting in desire, and manifested in purchase.   

We measure brand relationships in various ways.  

  • We understand behaviour with data analytics such as geo, visitation, CLT, reviews, interaction with social media etc.  
  • Social data allows us to track what consumers are saying about the brand online.  
  • Market researchers measure and track brand metrics   such as awareness, familiarity, preference, perception etc. 

So far, so good. 

Tell us what you know 

Data access is (rightly) becoming more regulated and controlled.  This means brands face a future where they may lose access to data about their customers or be forced to rent access to customer data from the big ‘custodian’ platforms.   

That data is, in any case, ‘cohort’ data, which limits the type of analytics one can achieve.  Surveys often provide limited underlying insights, even if they track attitudes.  Lately, survey response rates have been decreasing as people get bombarded with requests.  Social data is representative of the vocal minority not the silent majority. 

In what sense then, will a marketer truly know a customer in the years ahead?  How can they develop meaningful human insights on how to deliver relevant products and services at the right place and time, individually and collectively?   

Let’s be friends, maybe something more… 

Before we introduce the big idea – brands as bots, let’s briefly consider what a relationship between two humans typically entails: 

  1. Interaction – we share thoughts, ideas and feelings through conversations  
  1. Commonality – we identify common interests, beliefs and goals. 
  1. Attachment – a level of connection forms that can elevate to love or descend to hate.  Either way, people connect, bonds are formed. 

Human relationships start shallow and go deep.  They deepen over time; networks of relationships form into social groups.  Indeed, social researchers can characterize people by the company they keep. 

Brand as bot – for real? 

Yes, for real – take Google Home as an example.   I ask ‘her’ a question “what’s the weather today” and she answers me “today will be sunny and 23 degrees”.  It’s a dull conversation really, but it’s the closest thing to talking to a brand that exists today.  Sometimes I swear at her or ask her a stupid question to laugh at her response.  

I talk at her, and in my mind, she has a personality and a presence.  On the other hand, I don’t care what she thinks, and I don’t know her values or what she believes in (aside from productising me and serving me ads based on anything and everything I say to her).   

Technology is at hand to enable brand-to-human conversations that are two-way, complex and nuanced.  With this new capability, the concept of a ‘brand persona’ will take on a whole new meaning.  Perhaps we could call this a brand personAI.  Think talking to the Nike Swoosh, it talks back, and we get into a conversation to find common ground and form attachment. 

A new horizon for brand engagement 

Nike’s Facebook has 35 million followers. What if, instead of using the social channel to engage in conversations, Nike personAI could chat with every Nike follower individually, one-on-one.  For example… 

  • I could tell Swoosh that I love the Run Club. 
  • I could talk about my latest fitness regime and the Swoosh could give me advice. 
  • Swoosh would ask me what part exercise plays in my goals.  
  • Nike could send me special offers based on my expressed interests, not derived interests. 

Would I want to have such a relationship with Swoosh? What would the relationship mean for me as a consumer and for Nike as a brand?  What would it mean for Nike’s marketing team?  What new capabilities would  1:1 brand relationships at scale create as a campaign channel? 

Tone of voice – beyond metaphor 

For a start, the way the personAI interacts with the consumer would have to nail the right tone of voice. It would have to have the authority to speak to me about things relevant to my relationship.  It would have to determine the boundaries between bonding and sales – choosing the right moments to suggest or position a product or service.  This would be important to get the balance right between brand building through conversational engagement and commercialisation through recommendation.   

Another consideration is how consumers choose to form relationships.  What would consumers expect from a personAI relationship? What data would they share about themselves?  This suggests a new type of campaign – the “personAI friendliness” campaign.  Metrics might include number of conversations and depth of conversation, directionality of the chat and sentiment of the chat content. 

The era of 1:1 insights for marketers 

With the speed that Conversational AI is developing, the answers to these questions and others are going to become important for marketers. Positively, a new era of consumer insights will be revealed where we can listen and learn from millions of consumers in real-time.  Your brand’s consumers, not those shared by a custodian data platform.  Powered by AI, listening, learning and reacting. 

The Conversational AI technology at The Evolved Group that has been developed already, allows consumers to say what they want, how they want. The questions asked by the AI companion (personAI) are nuanced and engaging, with two-way interaction.  Using Conversational AI produces up to 275% more data than a traditional survey’s open-ended questions – providing an entirely new depth of detail that can facilitate personalisation at an individual level.  Deep-learning-powered text analytics allows for a level of insights about the customers’ feelings that simply cannot be derived from pre-coded survey responses.  The level of insights produced is astonishing – both about the individual and rolled up about people collectively.   At this stage, the technology is designed to understand humans rather than form an ongoing relationship.  That goal is, however, in sight and achievable. 

The ‘brand personAI’ future is beginning  

The pace at which technology develops will only become faster.  Every decade brings forward a shift in thinking and advancement in capabilities.  I believe 1:1 personAI engagement will change both market insights and marketing for the better.  It will be a world where brands literally talk one-on-one with their millions of followers and understand each individual and their audience as a collective. 

Find out more 

To learn more about how The Evolved Group can use Conversational AI to help you analyse and truly understand your target market, please get in touch, or feel free to shoot me a message via my LinkedIn