A consumer’s sweet spot is when a brand strikes an emotional chord with its targeted consumers. The average consumer is exposed to a plethora of marketing messages from brands a day and in order for a brand to cut through the clutter, its message has to be of emotional resonance. The Brandberries has exclusively interviewed Sohair Sharafeldine, Senior Category Manger – Gum, Candy and Powder Beverage at Mondelez International, to get her take on how to connect with a consumer’s sweet spot.

BB: A customer journey is not mapped by how customers feel at any given point in the journey but rather how they feel over the course of the entire journey. How can brands effectively evaluate their customer journeys?

SS: I believe the starting point is not to look at consumers only as target audiences and potential buyers – but rather as simply human beings. Just think of yourself (or your friends and family) as a consumer and try to understand the different touchpoints they go through during their day regardless of the brand role. Then, go back and wear your marketing hat and map the relevant touchpoints to the brands’ roles and then it becomes much easier to know when and how to speak to your consumer. Consumers, too, will feel you are speaking to them as human beings and not only consumers. They will appreciate it!

Sohair Sharafeldine – MDLZ

BB: It’s widely known, and too often forgotten, that brands stand or fall based on the customer experiences they create. How can brands make use of the consumer insights in enhancing their customer experiences?

SS: Successful brands are the ones who go beyond their functional benefits and develop a strong emotional association too. In order to own both the functional and emotional attributes, you need to first have the right consumer insight / human truth.

With every consumer insight you unlock, you unlock a new magic spell that literally opens doors for the brand. Facts, figures and data are available for everyone. What differentiates brands (and marketers) is how you read, analyze and most importantly sympathize with the data.

Brands fail when they don’t speak the right and relevant language to their consumers. Consumers will stop using your brand if it is no longer relevant to them.

BB: The moment your brand strikes an emotional chord that resonates with your target consumer’s internal sweet spot, is the moment your gains occur. Can you mention some ins and out on how brands can find out about their consumers’ sweet spot?

SS: Balancing out between functional and emotional benefits of any brand is one of the hardest jobs in building brands. It’s like driving a car: the skill lies in choosing when to use what.

But to start with, finding this sweet spot is no rocket science but IS a lot of magic! If we take Clorets as an example, it perfectly marries its functional and emotional benefits. Who wants to feel confident? Everyone! But how many brands can claim they empower you to feel confident? Not many! So the magic here lies in the credibility the brand carries when it presents a scientific and believable reason to believe (active ingredients that give you fresh breath) which leads to the “magic” of feeling confident. Et voilà.

BB: With the rise of e-commerce, big brands shouldn’t ignore the online sphere and work on mirroring a pleasant and empowered customer experiences in the cyber world. Can you shed some lights on how e-commerce has reshaped the way brands design customer experiences?

SS: It’s no longer one size fits all kind of approach. It started with the rise of the digital world in general and followed by e-commerce in specific. Although the size of prize on the short term might not be super sexy but brands realized it is strategically the right choice to start now not only because the cost of entry will be way more expensive the later you start but also because of the significant growth rate of e-commerce as a channel in general.

Dealing with e-commerce as a tick in the box will get your brand nowhere though. The consumer experience on e-commerce is almost everything. More and more people are opting to replace their top-up and/or stock-up retail trips to another one that they can do from the comfort of their couch. Yet, their standard of the experience itself is even higher as they expect all the advantages of an offline trip accompanied by a more personalized experience.

Developing an omni-channel rather than a multi-channel approach is just a step and not a destination in this case. In the online world, shoppers can judge a product/brand even before they try it if the reviews are not good enough, if the product shots do not look nice, or even if the delivery process wasn’t very smooth. Hence, brands are left with no choice but to implement and seamless, convenient and more personalized consumer experience.

BB: As technology revolutionizes shopping, it’s creating a new consumer demographic, the one that’s always plugged in and ready to spend. Can you shed some lights on how should brands engage with this digital savvy consumer base?

SS: Consumers are getting more and more connected these days and accordingly are becoming harder to please. Yet, the beauty of the online platforms is that they enable you to understand the consumer behavior in the tiniest details possible and hence, enable marketers to create new segmentation strategies based on online behavior and not only socio-economic standards or consumption behavior. It is brands’ responsibility to smartly use this data as well as new technologies to humanize and personalize the messages they send to consumers. It is important that consumers feel like the brand is as up to date as they are and that’s why you will find many brands now partnering up with the different online platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Google… etc to catch up with the rapid changing behavior and design the right message for every platform differently. If this doesn’t happen, a brand can easily die just because it failed to remain relevant!