Astana winning the hearts of customers through emotional branding

APPIES 2020 Gold Award (left). Team Astana and Petron Malaysia at APPIES Marketing Awards in 2019 (right).

The 5th edition of the APPIES Marketing Campaign Awards made history as we saw shortlisted submissions presented virtually to a panel of judges, adapting to the new norm and working from home during the COVID-19 outbreak.

For Astana International, it was the second consecutive year that we participated in the APPIES. Gratefully for both years, we were recognised by our peers and awarded for our hard work in collaboration with our clients at Petron Malaysia.

It was also thanks to the team at Petron Malaysia who shared our beliefs for the consumers. As Astana International celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, we credit our resilience through the years to prioritising building brand empathy and developing better emotional understanding with our audiences.

We go beyond brand perception or purchasing behaviours and looking at their aspirations, motivators, and current sentiments. This has always been the mantra of our Founder & CEO Dato’ Shafri Mohamad’s core approach when he is met with a new brief from brand owners.

In our quest of developing stronger brand empathy for brands, we realised there were several gaps with how the industry collected insights. For instance, how focus groups are typically conducted.

Now, in no way are we implying that focus groups are entirely obsolete, in fact, they are a great way to introduce and observe the interactions consumers might have with a new product.

However, the challenge arises when brands use single focus groups with a moderator prompting questions to a small audience. In the case the moderator is not able to build enough rapport with the group, accurate and meaningful insights may be difficult to obtain.

Furthermore, people interact differently with different moderators – things like gender, language or dialect spoken, and even race can play a role on how an audience would respond.

Behavioural Economics – Neuromarketing

COVID-19 has accelerated the adaptation to the digital age and while it offers many marketing opportunities, the digital age also presents many challenges.

While businesses enjoy more touchpoints to engage with consumers, consumers are overwhelmed and spoilt for choice. The irony is that going digital was supposed to give us more time, but in reality, we are spending more time deciding.

As Behavioural Economist Barry Schwartz puts it, this is the paradox of choice – with more information, more time is required for decision making. Understandably, marketers tend to focus on helping customers rationalise their decisions through cold-hard facts and figures.

However, Nobel Laureate Professor Kahnemann found in his studies is that up to 95% of decisions are driven by the autopilot vs the pilot –emotions rather than logic.

Insights from research conducted by neuroscientists and behavioural economist have been beneficial for brand owners and marketers to build a greater understanding of their audience.

In fact, neuromarketing is a branch of marketing that utilises neuroscience to understand consumer behaviour and has existed for a long while. But the interest about neuromarketing in our industry, like the tide; ebbs and flows.

During periods economic uncertainty, marketers tend to value any solution that will translate to greater conversion.

Thus, rather than investing in neuroscience, let alone trying to comprehend neuroscientific insights, there is a temptation to oversimplify and over-claim. Fortunately for us, we found like-minded partners in Germany, TrioGroup, who are pioneers in emotional branding and neuromarketing.

Brandsync helps brands attain Emotional Brand Synchronisation with their customers

In their neuromarketing pursuits, they have invested more than a decade with scientists at the Center For Applied Neuroscience in Berlin to create the Brandsync tool.

The tool utilises the insights of Prof. Kahnemann along with other scientific models, like the Zurich Model of Social Motivation, to identify key emotive drivers of consumers from data collected via a combination of research and social listening methodologies.

Using these drivers, we can then create an emotional brand strategy that resonates with the audiences’ reward systems. In doing so, we can provide strategies that are more accurate and validated.

Dato Shafri with TrioGroup partners at launch of BrandSync in Malaysia

We are pleased with the response and results we have gained since introducing this proprietary tool. Beyond winning marketing awards and growing market share, Brandsync helps brands attain Emotional Brand Synchronisation with their customers – an emotional bond with the target audience.

We have extended our strategic partnership with TrioGroup and expanded our responsibilities by  covering the ASEAN region to deliver emotional branding solutions.

As we look ahead to the future, we are also working on the next iteration of Brandsync that will combine AI, Machine Learning, and predictive analytics with the tool.

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