THE BUSINESS OF BELONGING

  ©Ezra Jeffrey

©Ezra Jeffrey

Belonging has always been an essential ingredient in the business of brand building. However, as attention spans decline, the use of multiple screens rises and fragmentation grows, this fundamental need has been increasingly on our minds. What does this erosion of “belonging-ness” mean for individuals, society and businesses? How have and will these shifts change people’s expectations of brand experiences and the role brands play in their lives?

Alongside digital transformation, which has becomes inevitable for companies, it is essential to deeply understand human needs, especially as cultural expectations continue to shift. To learn more about what is believed to be a belonging deficit, IBM iX decided to more deeply explore the impact and the potential opportunity for brands and businesses. In the age of digital disruption, there are many things to learn, evolve and invent. By more deeply understanding both consumers' individual and collective needs, companies can help bridge the belonging gap and design better human experiences that are culturally relevant, drive revenue growth and inspire new business models. 

In the report, the top performing Belonging Brands grew their revenue at three times the rate of lower performing brands over six years and saw market share gains up to 10 percent higher than low performing brands. In addition, there were clear correlations to various marketing measures, including higher rates of purchase, funnel conversion and higher likelihood to recommend. The study also found that Brand Belonging is bilateral, comprised of individual and collective behavioral attributes identified through our qualitative research in six countries that fall into six Belonging Experience Drivers:

INDIVIDUAL DRIVERS

  • Everyday Enrichment:  Enhances people’s lives through simplifying, continually improving, and infusing meaning into everyday moments.
  • Compelling Relationship: Creates a strong personal relationship based on shared values, loyalty and personalization, while cultivating a sense of being part of something bigger.
  • Trustworthy Excitement: Is principled, dependable and makes people’s lives more enjoyable through anticipation of the consumer’s next brand interaction.

COLLECTIVE DRIVERS

  • Activated Purpose: Commits to social responsibility and behaviors that align to a core brand purpose in order to benefit a consumer’s well-being, instill optimism and improve the world.
  • Empowered Community: Serves as a conduit for inspiring experiences with others, and strengthens people’s interpersonal connections, helping them feel at home in the world.
  • Empathetic Innovation: Creates a continuous set of sensory systems that listen and learn from internal and external groups to improve products, services and experiences.

While all these drivers are important, leading brands are combining them in powerful ways to create exceptional experience strategies that appeal to people’s individual and collective needs.