The right customer engagement trick? Treat them right!

Despite the fact that the campaign was launched a decade ago, it continues to haunt me.

Sundeep Keramalu
Director, Marketing Content | November 01, 2021

Was Coke crazy to put random people names on its ‘#ShareACoke’ campaign? Yes. No. No. Yes. Yes, when one considers the campaign’s general desperation. No, when you consider how it made people feel. And no, when you consider the campaign’s stated purpose. And yes, when you consider how Coke was catapulting addiction to new heights.

While Coke’s amazing taste is refreshing, we must keep in mind that even the great ice age reached a point where it was no longer cool.

Share A Coke was no doubt a sweet campaign. That is, having your name appear on a billion-dollar brand. How frequently do you see that? What bothers me is that Coca-Cola is a well-known brand. It has its own name. It has taken decades and hundreds of millions of dollars to get to this point. And suddenly, it was willing to gamble with its identity by putting random, unknown names on its bottles to boost sales for one summer in Australia? It is self-evident that Coke has the absolute right to do anything it wants with its bottles. But, if you know that your product is not exactly health-beneficial and has addictive elements, you want to enable your customer to be disabled from being addicted — not the other way around.

Brands cannot capitalize on the unconditional condition unless they are willing to allow their customers to explore the condition of conditionality.

The goal of any brand is to make the customer fall in love with it unconditionally. Unfortunately, brands cannot capitalize on the unconditional condition unless they are willing to allow their customers to explore the condition of conditionality.

Simply put, to receive anything, you must first offer something. While Coke’s amazing taste is refreshing, we must keep in mind that even the great ice age reached a point where it was no longer cool.

The ethical question remains whether a brand can go as far as to entice consumers to purchase a product simply because it bears their name.

To keep consumers’ hearts warm for the brand, even a “cool” brand must step up and do something genuinely cool that also ends up being a warm gesture for the brand. Coke’s “nice” gesture was to put people’s names on its bottles. Of course, Coke, like any other marketing campaign, had its own agenda. Putting random people’s names on its bottles would be akin to a jilted Bollywood lover in one of those 90s movies engraving the name of the lady in his blood — since she does not feel the same way about him or, worse, has no idea who he is to begin with! Coca-Cola did not want a one-sided relationship. During the summer of 2011, it sought to increase sales in Australia.

Influential personalities and multimillion-dollar deceptive marketing messages are damaging to one’s willpower when it comes to resisting unhealthy and harmful lifestyle choices.

As much as people enjoyed seeing their or their loved ones’ names on Coke bottles, the question we must ask is if it was the proper experience. True, the ethical question remains whether a brand can go as far as to entice consumers to purchase a product simply because it bears their name. However, when a brand is aware that its product is bad enough to be a good pesticide, I believe it should refrain from influencing people in this way — from persuading them to share something this bad.

As it is, influential personalities and multimillion-dollar deceptive marketing messages are damaging to one’s willpower when it comes to resisting unhealthy and harmful lifestyle choices. In any event, when compared to Kendall Jenner’s ‘Live for Now’ Pepsi fiasco, Coke’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign was more thoughtful and positive.

When you are a brand that is bad for the body and bad for the mind, you cannot give people any more reasons to buy it than they need. There is a very thin line to walk. This means that you should not compel your customers to adopt your brand. Rather than that, develop incentives for people to adore your brand. There is a significant difference, but the line is really thin. I am not being a snob and slamming the idea of sharing a Coke with a close friend. It is just that you would not want to share anything harmful to your health with someone you care about. That contradicts the point of the campaign’s purported goodness.

Brands that make essentially harmful products to one’s health have additional avenues for customer engagement. Coke tricked its customers into purchasing more Coke. And, mind you, this was done in the name of “treating” its customers. Did not expect this from you, Coke!

Even for a beauty brand that wants to reward its customers, it cannot be skin-deep in its approach to rewarding them.

As much as we would like to believe that the #ShareACoke campaign was an engaging sales-increasing, brand-building, emotionally-engaging campaign, the reality is that it was not as engaging as it could have been. So, the deal was that Coke gave a platform for people to share a virtual Coke with pals or, if they were lucky, find a bottle of Coke with their or their friend’s name on it.

All of this, you see, is still quite transactional. In the end, it is just a name on a bottle! That is all there is to it. When the campaign ended, the transaction concluded. When you invest millions of dollars in advertising a campaign, you spend far more to market and nurture the campaign so that people remember it.

While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the beauty of a reward is in the embrace of a participant.

Rewards cannot be superficial. Let me give you a perspective. Beauty is considered superficial, right? But even for a global cosmetics brand that wants to reward its customers, it cannot be skin-deep in its approach.

How did a global cosmetics giant under Louis Vuitton increase its in-store sales with the Perx Platform? They did not go around handing out random rewards or sample cosmetics to the passing crowd. Instead, they incentivized regular in-mall footfall to visit their stores

It was a simple and straightforward approach. With smartphones being the single common denominator across shoppers in developed countries, QR-coded posters were placed throughout a highly popular mall. Customers were rewarded every time they scanned the QR code. However, to receive the reward, they had to enter the store — the point of sale.

The dynamic campaigns connected offline footfall, incentivizing them to walk into the store, where purchases were built and launched using the Perx platform. In addition, Perx’s advanced gamification and engagement mechanics transformed the whole experience into a gamified and instantly gratifying one.

Before launch, the brand researched customer footfall and buying patterns before designing the experience around them. They wanted to reward them for their intention to buy something from the brand. Even if they did not intend to do so, the dynamic mobile engagements influenced them to engage with the brand. In other words, I am attempting to convey that, in light of the example, the reward offered should not be based merely on the customer’s pleasure; rather, it should be based on the customer’s intent.

It is true. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Therefore, Coke’s #ShareACoke campaign might have made the day for some of its customers. But at the end of the day, we must remember, while beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the beauty of a reward is in the embrace of a participant.

A disconnect or a pause between you, the brand, and your customer will cause them to seek another brand that meets their requirements.

While each beginning and each campaign should have a conclusion, the reality is that engaging customers is a continuous process. Brands are required to engage in a never-ending cycle of evolution, progress, and improvisation. A disconnect or a pause between you, the brand, and your customer will cause them to seek another brand that meets their requirements. This is why brands must focus on engaging their customers in ways that transcend beyond transactional interactions — something that keeps the connection going for a long, long, long time — how about forever!

Treat the relationship with your customer as though it were a long and happy marriage and not a one-night stand.

Treat the relationship with your customer as though it were a long and happy marriage and not a one-night stand.

Given that you have read this far, we are here to assist you if you are looking for a superpower to build that long-lasting, deeply-engaging relationship with your customers. Now keep in mind that we do not help you treat your customers just for the heck of it. Instead, we assist you in treating them genuinely and sensibly – you know, for the right reasons!

We work on making sure your customers do not just remain customers, instead we turn them into level-headed superfans.

It all boils down to giving you the satisfaction of knowing that you as a brand did not trick your customers and that you treated them appropriately. And understanding that will help prevent your conscience from being haunted.

Here is to a #CleanConscience!

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