I recently saw a great presentation that hammers a lot of sense into the faddish subject of consumer marketing and brand engagement.

It was by Martin Weigel of ad agency Widen & Kennedy. It attacks the rhetoric from much of the marketing industry that exaggerates companies’ abilities to build true ‘relationships’ with consumers, and leads them mistakenly to expect consumers to love them and pledge life-long brand monogamy.

He argues that the concept of ‘brand relationships’ is a misleading metaphor and nothing at all like real human connections. The reality is, most consumers simply don’t care enough about big brands. (The B2B sector is different, with customers less fickle and real human contact often key).

Weigel provides compelling evidence to back up his case:

  • 80% of consumers know little or nothing about the brands they buy
  • 72% of Pepsi drinkers also drink Coke
  • Many more people buy a shampoo brand just once a year than repeatedly
  • Most brands think consumers connect with them via social media for ‘engagement’; consumers actually do it to get discounts
  • 77% of consumers say they have no relationships with brands

As Wiegel says, “Your consumers are really just someone else’s who occasionally buy you.”

There’s great, down-to-earth sense in most of this – even if I’d argue that the minority of consumers who do exhibit brand loyalty must not be ignored.

But Weigel isn’t telling companies to give up their marketing efforts and go home. His point is to cut through the hype and get a common sense grip on the task in hand.

This, he argues, is much less about nurturing relationships and much more about executing great marketing to get noticed and – vitally – “to overcome indifference”.

It’s well worth reading the entertaining slides from Weigel’s presentation.


What do you think about the place of brand engagement – is it over-hyped or is Weigel wrong? Do these points apply equally to B2B markets, or are relationships and loyalty are more important here?

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