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Daniel Jeanes

I completely agree about openness being the way to go. When a brand can show its customers it's open to interacting with them, willing to listen to then and capable of taking their feedback, good or bad, and utilising it within their strategy, then they are creating lasting relationship which will transfer into the real world and result in long term brand loyalty.

Brands which don't show the same levels of openness and transparency, and possibly worse seem fake in their attempts at openness, are just deterring potential audiences and risking losing market shares.

James Cherkoff

Thanks Daniel, any thoughts about what makes openness work or not work?

Daniel Jeanes

I believe that being legitimately honest and consistent to the brands ethos is the key. People believe Nike because they see Nike as a forward thinking and innovative company that uses modern technology in order to enhance their performance and that honestly cares about the performance of its customers, even if that concern is bourn of the desire to create a desirable brand through the positive word of mouth of happy customers.

People didn't believe Wal-Mart cared about them or legitimately wanted to create an interactive and mutually beneficial relationship, they saw them as wanting to cipher information from them that they could use to sell them more, enhancing their reputation as a cold and faceless corporate machine.

Do you agree?

James Cherkoff

Thanks Daniel.

The shorthand I use is that only companies who are having 'credible conversations' in the eyes of the consumer will make it work. Easier said than done. I'm sure WalMart thought their conversation was credible but for some reason their customers didn't see it that way. I think Nike were already having a conversation with the running community and so Nike+ had credibility and felt and smelt like a fair exchange ie services for data.

That said, I still think it's interesting that people are prepared to hand over fairly detailed information about their lives (eg location, running habits, even their heart rates http://bit.ly/9RUBCU)to Nike, which is, after all, a massive Fortune 500 US corporation...

Daniel Jeanes

Very good point, Nike have a good reason which is ingrained into their corporate agenda to interact closely with their customers, which is why their conversation seems more credible. Maybe the customers of WalMart didn't feel they had any right to be asking the questions they were?

James Cherkoff

Nike are also very big on hiring authentic people, or people who are authentic to their business I should say, ie ex-sportsmen. Sometimes to a slightly weird degree. I once read that their most hardcore internal corporate advocates are called Ekins and sometimes have the Nike Swoosh tattooed on themselves! I also heard that Nike+ was dreamt up by some such ardent running advocate within the business and so always had that grassroots sensitivity.

That said, I'm not sure what grassroots for Walmart would really look like...?

Daniel Jeanes

I live in Wales so I haven't got a clue what Walmart stands for, but the Nike "Ekins" getting the tattoos of the slogan is an excellent example of companies creating tribes, which is the highest level of brand loyalty possible.

Harley Davidson are similar, they've created a tribe of comsumers who have Harley Davidson key rings, tattoos, clothes, etc, and associate themselves as Harley Davidson people.

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