Do you remember? Or maybe you have never seen the movie Pay It Forward? Anyway it’s one of te most simple but best concept ever.
March 2011 | While it’s important to be aware of mega-trends like CITYSUMERS (see last month’s Trend Briefing), in business, execution beats everything. This is why an easy-to-apply consumer trend such as RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS (R.A.K.) should be firmly on your radar in the coming months.
With R.A.K. featuring prominently in our recent 11 Crucial Consumer Trends for 2011, here’s a full, in-depth briefing explaining why practicing R.A.K. will be a winning strategy in 2011. First, our definition:
RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS | For consumers long used to (and annoyed by) distant, inflexible and self-serving corporations, any acts of kindness by brands will be gratefully received. For brands, increasingly open communications both with and between consumers (especially online), means that it’s never been easier to surprise and delight audiences with R.A.K.: whether sending gifts, responding to publicly expressed moods or just showing that they care*.
* Just to be absolutely clear: R.A.K. are not about rewarding customers for tweeting / liking your product, and not about giving away lots of free samples (that would be FREE LOVE), but about selected, random acts of kindness (hence the name ;-)
Now is the ideal moment to engage in some R.A.K:
Let’s look at these three drivers behind R.A.K. in more detail:
R.A.K. appeal to the vast (and ever-growing) number of consumers who make up GENERATION G (that’s G for Generosity not Greed). Disgusted with big, arrogant, sloppy and out of touch institutions, fed-up consumers around the world increasingly expect businesses to be socially, ethically and environmentally responsible:
The link with R.A.K.? Members of GENERATION G are also left cold by old-school business priorities and formalities. With sharing, creating, discussing and collaborating for many becoming a way of life (both on and offline), people want and expect interactions to be genuine and enjoyable. And yes, that includes interactions with brands.
Meaning R.A.K. reach out to those consumers craving ‘human’ brands who show not generosity, but acts of compassion, humanity, or even just some personality.
More people are now publicly and knowingly disclosing more personal information than ever before: about their daily lives, their moods or their whereabouts* (whether on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, GetGlue or any other number of social apps). Some numbers:
All this personal information increasingly enables brands to actually know what’s happening in consumers’ lives (both good and bad!).
In fact, it’s never been easier for brands to listen and react to potential customers’ needs or desires in innovative or even personalized ways. As much of this happens in real-time, brands can increasingly engage with consumers right at their moment of need, making R.A.K. more relevant, and therefore better received.
Case in point: UK based cosmetic retailer BioTherm Beauty offering free products to selected people who happened to be tweeting about being tired. (For more RANDOM TWEETS OF KINDNESS, see the ‘Examples’ section of this briefing.)
* Remember: R.A.K. are just a fun and light-hearted demonstration of how brands can access some of this publicly available information to brighten consumers’ days. By no means would we suggest that the implications for individuals, society and businesses of this increasing disclosure of personal information are limited to a few fun marketing campaigns. So, for context-sake:
Now, let’s not forget that brands have always been able to offer R.A.K., whether informally or, for large brands, via heavily publicized ad campaigns. But a R.A.K. strategy can now be cost-efficiently applied by all brands, because the ‘PUTTING IT OUT THERE’ effect also guarantees that many R.A.K. recipients will share their experiences with an ever-wider audience.
After all, rather than having to call, text or even see people personally (oh the hassle!), social networks’ streams allow users to easily broadcast information to a wide range of people without interrupting or intruding. Just one more stat:
The explosion in both the volume and reach of connections creates huge opportunities for brands that create interesting, meaningful, funny, uplifting moments that people love to share. Which means that R.A.K. can now touch thousands, if not tens of thousands of people, rather than just the original recipient.
When done well, R.A.K. will bring unexpected glee to consumers and truly enhance a brand’s reputation. Done badly, R.A.K. will leave audiences unmoved (at best), or quite possibly annoyed or even freaked out. A few tips on how to get it right:
Be genuine. R.A.K. should demonstrate a brand’s attitude, not be a (temporarily) welcome exception to it. Any cold-hearted, stuck-in-the-past brand who thinks it can fake it will be unmasked in today’s transparent marketplace. And the backlash won’t be random.
Be personal, but not too personal. Audiences will like R.A.K. that are aimed at their individual circumstances or needs, but equally don’t want to feel like a brand has been stalking them. However, brands should make sure they ensure that their R.A.K. is appropriate. A light-hearted gesture at the right time will be appreciated, intruding into personal issues certainly won’t be.
Be compassionate, not crass. R.A.K. from ‘human’ brands are welcomed because they are just that, acts of kindness, rather than purely self-serving corporate marketing stunts.
Make it shareable. Give someone a reason to share their R.A.K. with their friends and family (even better if they have something to share, whether it be an extra ticket, or an online video).
Be generous. Yes, GENERATION G appreciate any brand generosity, but better to be really generous to a few people, rather than kind-of-nice to lots of people.
Have meaning and purpose. Encourage consumers to engage in their own R.A.K. And then (publicly) reward them for it – leaving them with a great STATUS STORY.
Get real. Want to really surprise people? Then deliver a R.A.K. right to them, in their daily lives, surrounded by family, friends, or colleagues. While people will share R.A.K. online, offline acts will always have a big impact, too.
Don’t intrude, or be pushy, or sell. This isn’t about you or your brand, it’s about the recipient.
Don’t make R.A.K. too frequent. Customers shouldn’t feel upset if they don’t get a R.A.K. (See PERKONOMICS for ideas on how to reward and delight existing customers on a less random basis.)
As always, a quick round-up of the best recent R.A.K. Featuring Twitter-inspired gifts, offline surprises, and brands helping other people to be kind:
But don’t for a second think that R.A.K. is an online-only trend. Here are a whole host of brands that are bringing their R.A.K. directly to delighted customers (who will share their good fortune online anyway ;-)
Sometimes brands should simply help facilitate individuals who want to send R.A.K. other individuals’ way:
This is one of those consumer trends that doesn’t demand a wholesale strategic shift, or long and expensive discussion, but simply the right attitude.
For ‘human’ brands, the ever increasing volume of publicly accessible information and the ability for consumers to share their experiences far and wide, create an environment in which a serious (and sincere) R.A.K. strategy may mean a brand is no longer being seen as inflexible and unwieldy, but as more compassionate and charismatic instead. Something which is, of course, priceless and actually enjoyable. For customers and employees.
So learn from the above theory and the brands who are already applying, and then turn RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS into an effective, permanent part of your strategy!
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Great presentation on slideshare by Michael Altendorf. How the internet changes our lifes. You even might think it’s scary hahahaha. Imagine…. your identity will be in almost every-THINGs. But the funniest thing is, it is happening. We do stuff location based. It’s worth to watch this presentation.
Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?” His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers — and as a counterpoint Tivo, which (until a recent court victory that tripled its stock price) appeared to be struggling.
This video was prepared by the UK branch of Dorling Kindersley Books and produced by Khaki Films. Originally meant solely for a DK sales conference, the video was such a hit internally that it is now being shared externally. The clip was inspired by a video created by an Argentinean agency, Savaglio/TBWA entitled, “Truth”: http://bit.ly/truthvideo. Read an interview with the creator of the video on the Penguin Blog: http://bit.ly/futureofpublishing. If you are interested in downloading this video for personal use, please visit their Bookseller site video page: http://bit.ly/penguinbooksellervideos