Superfans And Trekkies

Superfans And Trekkies

February 28, 2011

A woman was sitting in the stands watching her favorite sports team’s final game of the season. As she sat there, a gentleman approached her and asked if anyone was sitting in the empty seat next to her. She replied that the seat was indeed empty. “Incredible,” he said. “Who wouldn’t use their ticket to such an important game?” The woman informed him that the seat had belonged to her husband who had recently passed away. This was the first time in 20 years that they had not attended a game together.  The gentleman expressed his sympathy to the woman for her loss but wondered aloud whether she had a friend or family member that she could have given the ticket to. The woman, watching the game intently, replied, “No, they’re all at the funeral.”

At Brandtrust, we prefer to study your best customers first. They’ve traveled the furthest with your brand and can tell you how to get others to do the same.

While I might question this lady’s priorities, there is no doubting her loyalty to her favorite sports team. Her devotion to her chosen team is much more than a preference for one group of players over another, but is rooted in very deep emotions.  What connection has she made with this team that has created such loyalty? What have her experiences been to inspire such deep feelings? If I were marketing this sports team, I would want to understand what drives fans to this level of passion so I could reproduce their experiences and create more such fanatics.

When they love you, the sales will come.

Consumers who are emotionally bonded tend to exhibit disproportionate purchase loyalty towards their brand of choice. By understanding how your brand touches these customers you can learn how to target others with similar needs to create a larger base of loyal consumers.

At birth, our brains are actually much more alike than different. Over time, personal experiences wire each individual’s brain into unique, neuron-firing machines, giving each person their own, distinctive perspectives and characteristics.  Even as our individual differences emerge, we are all still tapping into a finite set of universal human emotions and motivators, such as a desire for connection with others or the need for self-respect.  When we understand the experiences that make your biggest fans connect your brand with their motivating emotions, it gives us the ability to help other people relate to your brand in the same way.

Those customers who have already bonded with your brand are best able to help you identify the key, emotional needs your brand could meet for other, new customers.

Trekkies are another great example of a loyal customer base exhibiting disproportionate enthusiasm for their preferred brand. Since the first “Star Trek” episode aired in 1966, the iconic television show has made an emotional connection with a specific segment of its viewers that has propelled the sci-fi thriller into a multi-billion dollar franchise. This segment of “super-fans” frequents conventions, premieres and sometimes even everyday life dressed in the garb of their favorite characters and creatures. Now, if the Star Trek franchise were seeking to expand their customer base even further, their efforts would be best spent understanding the emotional journey the Trekkie audience has traveled on the way to creating such a devoted subculture of fans. Studying why non-viewers don’t connect with the show would do nothing more then reveal a pattern-less variety of reasons and needs that the brand might never be able to address. Trying to reach out to all audiences would risk alienating (pun intended) the devoted audience they already have.

The best way to understand where your brand should go next is to learn where it has been and what is working best.

It’s only natural to want to know why non-users or lapsed users are not giving your brand their love. But without first understanding what emotional needs are being met by the brand for the most loyal cadre of customers, this effort is misguided. A brand can never be all things to all people. There are audiences it will never reach and connect with. Huge amounts of time and money can be wasted attempting to draw these disinterested audiences to your brand.  Your brand’s resources are better spent in understanding your best customers, and then replicating the elements that thrilled them with new customers who are on a similar journey.

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