Some brands transcend marketing relationships with customers and turn them into fans. They are truly loved. Their symbols are maximized on garments and appear in photos of millions of people. On social networks, they are praised and even proposed in marriage. They represent a lifestyle and their values blend with those of consumers. And it is precisely by gaining this engaging relationship with the public that they become lovemarks.
The concept first appeared in the bestseller Lovemarks – The Future Beyond Brands, by Global CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi advertising agency network Kevin Roberts. Launched in 2004, the book is a reference in marketing for translating the logic of customer relationships in the 21st century. Not limited to material and rational benefits: What sets a lovemark apart is its ability to create an unusual emotional connection with consumers.
There is no single recipe to reach this level and the reason is simple: to be loved by customers, the brand needs to know them in-depth. What values does it share with the brand? What emotional yearnings does it place in products?
For FAE Business School Graduate professor, MSc. at King’s College London and branding consultant Juliano Ughini, the goal of Relationship Marketing in the traditional and contemporary view is the same. “It’s the strategy and set of actions to build customer loyalty. The goal is to create a relationship that tends to last due to a set of benefits you offer,” he says.
The difference is that, in the traditional model, customer loyalty happens through the provision of functional rather than emotional benefits. Moreover, in contemporary times, it is possible to segment the public beyond regional or behavioral characteristics. Brands that can define consumer segments based on their values and expectations go beyond the purely marketing relationship and win customer admiration.
Nubank, cited by Ughini, is a Brazilian fintech founded in 2013 that simplifies financial services and offers services such as credit cards, free digital accounts, benefits programs. Nubank accurately illustrates the contemporary Relationship Marketing model, addressing users’ needs in every respect. In social networks, it is common to see their customers complimenting and even asking the company to marry, an unusual bond when it comes to a financial institution. In Nubank’s case, this care with consumers is even clearer at NuCommunity, a forum that brings the company’s customers together in discussions on various brand-related topics.
Being young, however, is far from a condition for creating and maintaining a lovemark. Other traditional brands from different segments, such as Ray-Ban, Coca-Cola, BMW, and Harley-Davidson, also have a captive place among their customers. In Brazil, one of the main lovemarks has reflected the Brazilian’s stripped and democratic style for over 50 years: Havaianas.
If everyone uses it, I use it too
For every Brazilian, the phrase “todo mundo usa” (everybody uses it) is almost unmistakable. Listening to it, the image of the country’s most popular sandals comes to mind: the famous Havaianas. The lovemark is part of the country’s social imagination and just a short walk through the streets of any city is enough to find it on many people’s feet.
The construction of Havaianas as a lovemark begins with its launch in 1962. Two years later, they were already a sales phenomenon. Brand representatives walked around Brazil in vans to sell them in the innermost municipalities. In 1966 came the confirmation of originality: Havaianas was patented as the world’s first rubber flip-flops.
In 1980, the Brazilian Ministry of Finance–yes, a government agency–included Havaianas in the list of products fundamental to the lives of Brazilians. In the 1990s, versatility gained prominence and the brand developed the TOP model, in various colors, opening the range of options and styles to Brazilians.
It was also around this time that flip-flops began to be officially distributed in European countries and in the United States of America (USA). One of the episodes that illustrate Havaianas’ fame and prestige was at the 2003 Oscars when the sandals were distributed as a gift to those nominated for the most important movie awards.
It would be possible to list dozens of other Havaianas achievements along the way until it became a lovemark, but the accomplishments cited earlier give the dimension of the passion that the brand aroused in almost six decades of existence.
For Alpargatas’ Global Marketing Director–the company responsible for Havaianas–Fernanda Romano, the concern with the creation of trends and the preservation of Brazilians’ identity explains this trajectory of success.
“If we look at the history of Havaianas, from the moment we changed Traditional Havaianas and launched the TOP models in the 1990s, watching consumer movement and maintaining price adequacy to this day, the essence and attention are the same. We care to serve our customers in the best way, presenting the best that we have, introducing news, setting trends and maintaining the essence of Havaianas in representing Brazilians. We understand that all this attention and care are key points for the relationship between brand and consumer”, she says.
“Delivering a portfolio of products ranging from the most basic sandal–our famous Traditional, which we affectionately call Tradi–, to a Crystal Collection with Swarovski, including licenses, prints, models and new materials; we reinforce that value through the product”, she says.
A lovemark, however, is not only made of products. The relationship with the customer must be permanently thoughtful, which requires the guarantee of a unique experience with each contact with it, from the physical store to social networks. This concern also has a privileged place in Havaianas’ strategies. “By building delightful living spaces like our concept stores in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, we seek to respond to any and all consumer requests over the Internet quickly and in a friendly way and by talking to our fans in a fun and close tone, we reinforce this value with the experiences”, comments Fernanda.
Translated by Jennifer Ann Koppe