BUILDING STRONG BRANDS IN THE DIGITAL AGE

6th International Conference on Research on National Brand & Private Label Marketing (NB&PL2019)

The past decade has witnessed the evolution of the manufacturer–retailer relationship, becoming more collaborative and allowing companies to provide consumers with a shopper-centric approach and improved shopping experiences. Creating unity among the multiple channels, by managing them in a holistic fashion, provides a more integrated, seamless experience for consumers. Accordingly, today’s consumers can search for a product on their mobile devices, order it on their computer using the company’s website, and pick it up in the physical store.

In addition to this changing channel landscape, brands have witnessed a shift in the locus of control over the brand image and message. Historically, brands maintained tight control over their messaging. In today’s socially connected environment, consumers often look for feedback from other shoppers to form brand assessments, whether through product blogs, product reviews, or product ratings. Because they perceive information garnered from these sources as less biased than a company’s communication, it serves as an important cue of product quality.

As the retail landscape continues these rapid evolutions, new considerations come to the fore for brands that seek to create personalized connections with consumers. Brands must capture consumers’ attention and be perceived as relevant. Providing relevant content, at an appropriate time, reflecting the established relationship the consumer has with a brand, can help foster both engagement and trust. It creates an intimacy between the brand and the consumer that injects their relationship with authenticity and relevance. To maintain authenticity, the brand story then must be consistent and strategic throughout every interaction between the customer and the brand.
Furthermore, brands need to leverage technology and data to create new business models centered on consumers’ personal experiences. The days of requiring a retail storefront to sell products are gone. Instead, the smartphone and Instagram provide the virtual storefront windows for many brands. E-commerce giants even are pushing into private-label brand offerings. To create personalized, tailored connections to consumers in real-time, brands need comprehensive customer information that is both accessible and actionable. Such information can be gathered from multiple avenues, including company-specific databases or social listening. However, companies must be cognizant of the trade-offs inherent to creating a personalized customer experience while protecting customers’ privacy.

Creating targeted information for individuals at a specific point in time also is increasingly possible through artificial intelligence tools that can reveal consumer behavior and predict consumer engagement across multiple touchpoints. The contextually relevant marketing that results allows brands to connect with individual consumers in the moment, with personalized, curated content. In addition, augmented reality and additive manufacturing technologies make it possible for consumers to design and produce products. Real-time interaction management technologies can be used to listen and respond to customers in real time.
As companies continue building their brands—whether national brands, established mega-brands, private labels, or newly launched niche brands—they must remain tech-savvy and agile. In keeping with its established objectives, this conference welcomes papers on topics related to any retailing, private 

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