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How 3 Brands Establish Themselves as Experts to Rise Above the Competition

A study by McKinsey and Company found that most brands are spending their marketing budgets in the wrong places. Around 70% to 90% is spent on paid advertising and retail promotions in the final, transactional “buy” stage in a purchase decision journey.

However, the most influential stages in a customer journey are often the ones during which shoppers seek input and advice (evaluate) and interact with the product after the purchase (enjoy-advocate-bond).

Purchase decision journey map


The implication is that brands must strengthen owned media channels (such as websites) and earned media channels (such as communities of brand enthusiasts). They need use these channels to engage shoppers early and become their trusted and helpful expert advisor to build awareness, drive consideration, and ultimately inspire (repeat) purchase.

Some of the most successful brands have adopted these strategies to accomplish this:

  1. Establish trust and form a relationship
  2. Educate and communicate value
  3. Advise and support decision-making
  4. Inspire and engage shoppers before and after the purchase


Let’s take a look at how 3 top brands ace customer engagement in different forms:


1) Canon

As of 2015, Canon owns 54% of the world’s marketshare in DSLR cameras with a global market capitalization of 49.8 billion USD. Having become the world’s most successful interchangeable lens producer for 13 years in a row, Canon is surely doing something right.

From the very beginning, Canon positioned itself as an expert by associating its lenses and imaging equipment with professional quality. It made clear that Canon was for people who took their pictures seriously.

What Canon does

Educate and communicate value

By utilizing both retail outlets and a well-designed website for selling their product, Canon effectively captures the attention of a large demographic. The website does a great job of introducing new and popular products not just by mentioning specifications, but by explaining and highlighting the benefits of their latest technology.


Advise and support decision-making

Canon actively assists customers, engages them, educates them, and helps them narrow down to the best choices. The website integrates interactive product advisors that help customers find the right camera, lens, or printer that best suit their needs.

Canon lens selector


Inspire and engage shoppers before and after the purchase

Canon takes this bond a step further by organizing workshops and events like Canon EXPO that facilitate live interaction and education. The company website offers a rich library of content that invites customers to browse and explore, receive tips and connect with the brand. It is this kind of value proposition that draws customers in and increases Canon’s chances of turning them into loyal advocates.

Canon inspirational content

2) L’Oréal

For the third year in a row, L’Oréal, the world’s largest cosmetics and beauty company,  came out on top in Brand Finance’s annual list of the most valuable cosmetics brands, which can be attributed to 3 key aspects according to cosmetics analyst Emilie Milton-Stevens. L’Oréal is

  • investing in trends and technology
  • innovating digitally
  • continues to inspire trust

The brand understands that consumer needs, concerns and values have to be placed at the very heart of the company. This also becomes evident by looking at the evolution of their advertising slogan from ‘Because I’m Worth It’ in the 70ies when female empowerment was revolutionary to the current slogan Because We’re Worth it’, which should create stronger customer involvement in L’Oréals brand, philosophy and lifestyle.

What L’Oréal Does

Establish Trust and Form Relationships

Gaining customer trust is vital in the personal care and beauty industry. BrandSpark’s survey discovered that for 72% of Canadian consumers buying new beauty products it is “very important that [the product] comes from a brand that they trust.”

Trust is very much linked to a company’s expertise and how well it meets personal needs.

L’Oréal invests heavily into research and development to offer cosmetic products that are adapted to different skin types, hair types and cultures. The L’Oréal website features a “Tools & Consultation”, which is a great way to demonstrate their innovativeness and show that they understand each customer and beauty concern. Services like this indicate that a brand really knows their craft.

Loreal Consultations

L’Oréal is also no stranger to using celebrities as spokespersons to create brand trust. While this is nothing new especially for brands in the beauty industry, L’Oréal stands out as they are a brand with a strong local understanding. The company is very good at selecting relevant, local celebrities to connect with people in different countries and thereby enhance the inclusiveness of the brand.


Educate and communicate value

The beauty industry is much more complex than we may think. This is where consumer education comes in. L’Oréal shares how-to videos, interesting facts, tips and tricks by L’Oréal experts to educate customers and differentiate their brand and products.

 Loreal expert advice on hair style

Advise and support decision-making

Until 2008, L’Oréal was creating broad content that aimed at most of the company’s customers. They realized that they had to create more diversified content that was valuable for different types of customers if they wanted to get their audience into the purchase funnel.

L’Oréal decided to meet their consumer with targeted and interactive content in lieu of one-way, aspirational messaging. In an interview with CMO, L’Oréal CMO Marc Speichart explained that this approach focuses on the “long tail of content” for the consumer’s “evaluation phase.”

“What we realized is that we shouldn’t create just one piece of content that will be relevant to the majority of people,” he explained. “Instead we’re creating many different assets that address the specific needs of consumers.”

To increase the purchase decision confidence of newcomers to the brand and of those who are not sure which of the many L’Oréal products will meet their needs, L’Oréal offers a variety of interactive product advisors. These solutions ask a few questions to understand the customer’s needs and interactively advise them on the right products to choose.

Loreal interactive product advisor


With this approach L’Oréal can provide online customers with tailored recommendations. It is valuable content that makes customers feel special, listened to and become brand advocates in the future.

In January 2015, L’Oreal launched the L’Oreal Makeup Genius App that allows customers to virtually try on makeup and various looks using augmened reality. The app encourages personalized exploration through over 300 L’Oréal products and curated “looks.”

Loreal Makeup Genius App


Inspire and engage shoppers before and after the purchase

L’Oréal launched its own content marketing site, to increase consumer outreach, brand themselves as experts,  and drive qualified traffic back to their website. Visitors can watch makeup tutorials, how-to videos and beauty trend articles by influencers like bloggers and vloggers. They can also look for product information that does not only include L’Oréal products increasing the sites credibility.

“The site’s tone is one of a best friend, which makes the content accessible and relatable to all women,” Farrah Linden, corporate media manager for L’Oréal said. “Our strategy is to have a unique position in the marketplace with such relevant and engaging content that consumers want to visit the site daily.”

Loreal content marketing -


3) Samsonite

Samsonite doesn’t just sell bags, it sells a travel lifestyle. While the heritage brand took a little time before going digital, it does so very effectively now. Undoubtedly, the core ideology of Samsonite’s marketing strategy has been that the product is hero.

The strength and toughness of its bags has been the focus of every advertising campaign Samsonite has done. These campaigns reinforce the trust that Samsonite bags will make travelling a pleasure and that theme sure resonates with their target audience.

What Samsonite Does

Advise and support decision-making

Samsonite’s website greets you with an engaging and interactive luggage buying guide that not only asks you what kind of bag you’d like but also guides you through the possible answers. A detailed explanation of every option along with who it’s suitable for shows up clearly as you hover over it. This helps Samsonite position themselves as experts who know their product and can help customers choose wisely.

That one feature adds a definitive edge to the customer’s shopping experience, as it takes away all confusion about what to choose, driving buyer’s confidence and reinforcing trust.

Samsonite luggage buying guide

Inspire and engage shoppers before and after the purchase

The Samsonite blog is another very effective strategy to engage with customers on a very personal level. It features an array of travel articles that give detailed guidelines to help plan a trip. Not just that, Samsonite goes a step further and invites travelogues from readers and customers, driving a great deal of interaction, bonding and brand loyalty.

Samsonite blog



Even more than retailers, brands need to create an experience by creating an emotional connection with the end consumer if they want to stay relevant and contemporary, else they’ll cease to exist. They must define themselves as approachable, trusted experts and thought leaders who have the expertise in a given industry and knowledge to be helpful and valuable to customers, rather than a distant giant.

A customer doesn’t always know what product will best meet their needs and hence, brands that step in and help out, are the brands that win loyal customers. Brands that build a social presence and engage their customers on a personal level are the ones that succeed at fostering brand loyalty and differentiate from the competition. The aforementioned 3 have surely done it, what other brands do you think do it better than the rest? Do let us know in the comments.



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