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'Don't be safe. Safe doesn't cut it'

Catherine Monahan explains how delivering a multi-channel customer experience is key to building lasting relationships with the millennial generation

Catherine Monahan Daemon and Genius

Catherine Monahan, founder and CEO at Daemon and Genius will be speaking at The Drink Symposium which returns to Packaging Innovations and Luxury Packaging London at London’s Olympia September 14 and 15, 2016

The Drinks Symposium, chaired by Felicity Murray, editor of The Drinks Report, will see leading drinks brands share first-hand insight on how packaging can help to win the hearts and minds of the consumer. Monahan will be speaking on day two of the show, presenting: ‘Bricks vs. clicks': brand experience > brand exposure. Sharing her insight into why brands that provide consumers with deep experiences of their product and manage to generate an emotional experience of ownership, win at the point of purchase.

Here, Catherine, explains why it’s important for brands to engage with its customers:

What methods and techniques are brands using to try and generate a deeper connection between its customers and its products?

Delivering an omni-channel customer experience is key to building lasting customer relationships in today’s digital, mobile-first world. Customers engage with brands via mobile apps, as well as desktop and mobile web apps nearly everyday.

Video, increased automation, omni-channel, eliminating customer holds (service), social media, email marketing, big data, personalised customer service, the cloud, workforce improvement/‘happiness’ strategies, and understanding younger generation groups, are all different ways to understand how to connect with customers, plus many more.

Brands have to develop one-to-one customer relationships through offering relevant and meaningful, personalised experiences based on how users engage with them.

One of the issues in all of this lies with companies/brand owners not being able to cover all the consumer communication channels in which to market to. This is why a lot of the new start-ups, especially online, start with focusing on one that is relevant to them. And, by building a ‘tribe’ around their brand.

In big scale retail, the e-commerce, sales and marketing teams must work closely together. Customers expect offers and promotions to be based directly on their unique preferences, interests, and buying behaviours. So they need to link offline and online.

With new brands/start-ups and single products, brand owners should be looking at building a ‘tribe’ around their brand, giving them meaningful content, great service/delivery and not overwhelming them with content or information. You’re much better off with real followers and customers than 10,000 'likes' that are meaningless. The product needs to differentiate itself from all others – not just be substitutable.

Why is it important for brands to provide its customers with an emotional experience? What are the benefits?

Brands today are built on relationships, and relationships of all kinds work solely because of expectation. As Seth Godin (leading US Marketeer) says: “And so advertisers and fashion houses and singles bars and Hallmark cards are built on promises. The promise of what to expect next. Expectation is in the eye of the beholder, but expectation is often enhanced and hyped by the marketer hoping for a quick win. And there lies the self-defeating dead end of something that would serve everyone if it were a persistent positive cycle instead.”

Customer loyalty is vital in consumer experience and we need to see both ‘attitudinal loyalty’, which means having a positive mental impression of a brand, and ‘behavioural loyalty’, which means that they don’t just like you, they buy from you – and keep buying from you. If those emotions are negative, you can say goodbye to sales and loyalty.

Brands need to build trust, confidence, authenticity, and undertake cause related activities that show that the customers/charity supported means more than sales do to the owner. Brands need to offer an emotional experience that gives a sense of low effort and easy service, over delivering on quality and experience and kindness. The brand and all its activities, sponsorships and more, needs to generate a positive happy emotion in customers and finally the brand should be able to personalise itself – make each individual customer feel important and valued – this is harder for big brands but if you start with a ‘tribe’ mentality you start with one-to-one care, concern and service.

Do you think that there is a fear to innovate within the drinks sector? If so, what are the causes of this?

Within drinks generally, no. There is a lot of innovation going on in craft beer, flavoured beer, spirits, RTDs and so on. But in wine, yes. There is an expectation of what consumers want and also an industry perception that wine is precious and needs to stay being about heritage, family, 75cl bottle, terroir and more. Yes, those factors are important but they are part of a holistic package. Every other category outside wine is changing at a rate of knots and you are seeing change being forced through now by people who are having the confidence to listen to millennials, who are creating global brands and following a more spirits mentality, of offering relevant meaningful brands to consumers.

Packaging and the pack format in wine is going to change a lot in the next 3 years – from a marketing, consumer and environmental standpoint. Another issue is also grocery, where we see over 80% of wine sold in the UK market. If buyers are willing to take risks, use new formats, new brands, different promotional types and NPD on product type, then things can happen quicker, and I do believe that will happen more and more over the next 18 months.

Millennials have long been pigeonholed as the hardest to target audience. Why is this and what is the best way to encourage brand loyalty amongst them?

Well, marketeers and researchers assume they know this group when they don’t really. Data can be used in all different ways, but when you speak to the brands that truly get it right, you see that millennials care more about making a change in the world than about how much money they are making. They view the world two fold: – 1. Going back to basics and 2. Technology driving life forward. 

So to target them correctly you need to have meaning behind what you do and behind your brand. What are you doing internally within your organisation and with your brand to make a difference to people, the world, the environment and so on, and what are you doing to create a meaningful, relevant product that excites them, is relevant, is different and makes them feel good about themselves.

Millennials dominate social media platforms, using them for researching brands, pricing, customer service, peer perception, and to share their opinions on brands and customer experiences. Youbrand found that, as of 2015, this generation has an estimated combined global spending power of $2.45 trillion. According to Forbes, 33% of millennials consult blogs before making a purchase and 62% reported that they wish to engage with brands on social media. Furthermore, Nielsen reports that 85% of the millennial generation owns smartphones, so mobile customer service is more important than ever.

What do you hope delegates from The Drinks Symposium will take away with them?

That the following marketing textbooks days are over. It’s all about moving at a fast pace with technology and retaining quality. And, to remember that more and more, people will only be loyal to your brand in the long run if you provide meaning and relevance and add value to their lives – and that crosses from online sales to instore promotions, to email marketing, personalised offers, sponsorships, communication, innovation and more.

Learn how to create packaging that pops on shelf and that has a ‘pickupability factor’ – don’t be safe. Safe doesn’t cut it.  Be exciting but be authentic and honest. Talk to consumers in a new way. Create a ‘tribe’ around your brand of people, that you regularly talk to and don’t just think that 5,000 new Instagram followers is going to make your brand sell.

Understand the importance of building real, positive, genuine relationships with consumers as well as gatekeepers (on and off trade buyers). At the end of the day, you can market a product to death, but if it has no distribution on and offline, you have no sales and no brand.

Have fun and be creative!

For further information about Packaging Innovations and Luxury Packaging London 2016 please visit:, or contact +44 (0)20 8843 8800.

5 September 2016