Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Random Acts of Kindness

The website Trendwatching recently posted a great article called "Random Acts of Kindness (RAK’s) - how kind, human brands will thrive in a connected economy". The basic tenet is as you would expect from the title, namely:image

  • customers want to see the human side of brands after so many disappointing experiences
  • the connected economy makes this increasingly easy to do so in a relevant manner
  • surprising and delighting consumers will have an exponential effect, as they easily share these experiences with many others.

The article cites examples such as:

  • Interflora, a flower delivery service in the UK, monitored Twitter users to look for people who needed cheering up. Once found, they were sent a bouquet of flowers as a surprise.
  • Sweetgreen, a Washington restaurant chain, employs a street team to perform random acts such as covering people’s bicycle seats when it rains, or leaving gift certificates for drivers who’ve received parking tickets.
  • Topicana took a huge helium balloon “sun” to Inuvik, an Arctic town where residents have 31 days of pure darkness in the winter

One I’ve also heard of recently is from Apple. A man returned his iPad to Apple with a return note where under the section “Reason for return” he had put “Wife says “no””. A customer service agent receiving the returned item read this and found it interesting and passed it onto Apple executives. A week later the said customer received the iPad back in the post with a note from the company saying “Apple says “yes””.

This is so much about what my blog is dedicated to. Companies who do this understand that these activities help build brand equity and that there is a genuine desire by consumers to see a human face to brands they purchase. It may be difficult to measure in the short term but KPI’s exist that would show a trend of brand preference, strength, etc over time. Indeed, monitoring the online viral impact of these events helps to calculate more instant feedback. Getting investment for this kind of activity on a sustainable basis, rather than a one-off, is notoriously difficult, as P&L owners clearly like to see the link between marketing activity and sales. Yet, this is always the challenge that faces any marketing activity that is not direct response based. My feeling is that we will see more and more of the cleverer companies delivering RAK’s.

If you have any other stories of RAK’s by companies I’d love to hear them. Download this article - you’ll love it.

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