Helping customers could help your brand

The world is going through a period of intense change. Though that’s good news for a consumer futurist like me, it can be disorientating for businesses and consumers alike.

But this actually provides companies with a great new business opportunity. Today’s disorientated consumers need help navigating and re-skilling for this new world, and don’t mind where they get it. Offering them sector-specific advice and assistance is a great way for companies to drive customer engagement, and build and maintain loyalty. It’s a new business trend I call Brand Aid, which offers an opportunity for almost any business, regardless of sector or size.

One characteristic common to every good business is sector knowledge. I speak at many different industry conferences, and am always struck by how knowledgeable and passionate the audience is about its own industry. There’s little the head of sales at an automotive manufacturer doesn’t know about cars, or a food company’s PR about calories and nutrition. But companies don’t leverage this combined internal knowledge enough in their customer engagement strategies. That needs to change.

Retail’s leading the way. Struggling against online price comparison and multiples’ cost savings, retailers have had to find new ways to attract customers. Those that succeeded – from Whole Foods to Rough Trade – have done so by offering advice. As Rough Trade’s co-president Stephen Godfroy says: “Visiting us is like visiting a cultural hub; it’s not simply a place for purchasing.” Meanwhile, Apple & B&Q are driving customers instore by providing technology and DIY advice workshops. Boots is building brand loyalty via its website, which offers health advice as much as product offerings.

Other industries are following. Allianz and Visa have youth advice clubs in Latin America, ING Holland a touring Pension Bus. Cosmetics companies work with the newly popular beauty guidance vloggers.

Advice is a new universal need, and a great way to attract and maintain customers young and old, in emerged and emerging markets.

All together: “Can I help you sir?”