Introduction to Consumer Buying Behavior
The following is an excerpt from The Evangelists: Insights from Leaders of the Nation’s Most Beloved Brands. Written by Monica Padillo, this chapter is titled “Asking the Right Questions: How Effective Marketing Leads to Good Brand Relevance.” In it, Kris Guillermo, the Marketing Manager of Buffalo's Wings N' Things, is interviewed about how the organization executes its strategy in knowing what your consumer wants and how it can lead to brand recognition.
The right questions leads to the right strategies
It might be an understatement to say that businesses in the food industry are highly competitive. Establishments consistently outdo each other with numerous campaigns and promos in an effort to gain more customers. Staying relevant in the midst of all this chaos can be quite difficult. Kris Guillermo, Marketing Manager at Buffalo’s Wings N’ Things, is familiar with this competitive field.
However, Guillermo is able to help the restaurant stay afloat by following one simple rule: asking the right questions. More often than not, this means observing their target market, internalizing her findings, and eventually coming up with various marketing efforts. One of the ways that she applies this rule is when she creates unique promos to boost the restaurant’s brand image and relevance. She shared that one of Buffalo’s Wings N’ Things’ successful campaigns was when they launched variations of wings, boneless, and bundles that are specifically measured for two people only. This move was based on the company’s existing customer base, most of which were couples or two friends who usually dined in their restaurants. While this calibration of their strategy may be deemed simple, it was extremely rewarding for the brand as it was a radical move in their category.
“When we found out that people who lined in at Buffalo’s Wings N’ Things are mostly groups of two, we asked ourselves, ‘what do they need that we can address?’ and ‘how do these customers want to receive what they want?’” Guillermo said.
However, Guillermo doesn’t solely rely on promos to attract people’s attention—she switches up their marketing strategies every now and then as she believes promos are not sustainable in the long run. “When you have promos, you have to put it in a limited time only. Otherwise, you’ll lose the hype—people will get used to your brand having these promos or discounts,” she explained. “When you do promos often, they’re good for boosting awareness for your brand, but at the end of the day, it devalues your brand in the long-term.”
According to her, one of the keys to success of a brand is more than the physiological benefits the products can offer―it’s about the emotional connection and self-actualization a customer may have with a brand. It’s humanizing a brand to a certain level where the market can relate and recognize themselves aligned with the company’s beliefs and purpose.
One notable example for this is Buffalo’s Wings N’ Things’ annual National Wing Day, which is held every July. The restaurant would offer exclusive bundles or freebies that are too good to miss. The annual event became a tradition not only for the brand, but even for groups of friends or families that made it their annual tradition as well. It has even reached a point where people would line up for hours just to dine in.
During the COVID-19 pandemic as well, where brands are expected to be sensitive to the situation, Guillermo decided to do more than just create promos and discounts.
The company decided to take a holistic approach by conducting webinars about mental wellness for their customers and the general public, starting donation kitchens for medical frontliners, and posting cooking tips online that people can follow at home.
They also focused on asking the right questions and exploring the purpose of everything they do. “This pandemic, we have to ask the right questions. It’s not asking ‘how do I earn money on this platform?’ but rather ‘how or why are my customers not buying my products?’” Guillermo said. “If you know the motivation behind every decision or every behavior of your market, it’s easier to understand them.”
In all of these efforts, Guillermo made sure to continuously observe her surroundings and stay insightful to boost their brand relevance―traits that she would like to impart on other marketing and communications professionals as well. More often than not, marketers oversee sensitivities and tend to solely look at sales and numbers. By learning how to be empathetic with the public, businesses are sure to receive good feedback and even gain free promotion through word of mouth.
“When people share their experiences online, as simple as posting their meals or even sharing official posts of the brands, it’s a sign that they’re proud to associate themselves with the brand. More often than not, these customers are not paid to do that. When customers recommend you to everyone they know and proudly share that they’ve been at your restaurants, I think that’s a true measure of success,” Guillermo said.
She added that this tactic is important given that Buffalo’s Wings N’ Things is still currently a medium-size brand—they don’t have a limitless marketing budget like big-scale restaurant chains in the Philippines. That’s why the brand is focused on offering the “best tasting and most enjoyable flavor experience”, which also serves as their tagline, so that customers will be eager to come back and share their experience with others. This marketing approach is what Guillermo believes is effective because people tend to trust recommendations more from people they know.
Guillermo also believes that every marketer should have snippets of knowledge about everything—they have to understand how their organization works and functions.
“Honestly, I feel like I’m still a toddler or a baby in this industry since I’ve been doing it for less than 10 years, but at the same time, I owe everything that I know from people around me. I learned it from my former bosses and the owners from my current company. So just take in everything and then take all that knowledge and don’t be afraid to start asking the right questions as this will lead you to the relevant answers,” she said.
To get more insights from other marketing leaders like Kris Guillermo, please check out the full book, available for purchase here.
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