Spread Joy, Brand Study Says

SAN FRANCISCO Most consumers are ready to bolt to a new brand if that brand can make its transactions more enjoyable, according to a trend study by Forrester Research.

Marketers, especially cable TV, health insurance and investment firms, need to go beyond talking about product attributes and prices. Their marketing should include making their interactions “more useful, usable and desirable,” or they will lose to rivals who do, said principal analyst Bruce Temkin, who authored the study.

Called “The Enjoyablity Factor,” the report was released last week. More than 5,000 consumers rated how much they enjoyed doing business with 14 types of marketers and indicated how likely they would be to change.

Across every industry, except discount and department stores, firms were found to have more at-risk customers on the verge of switching to a more enjoyable company than they had stable, satisfied customers.

Overall, almost three-quarters of respondents were willing to switch some of their business for better transactions. Among cable TV companies, airlines, electronics stores, computer makers and wireless phone operators about 40 percent said they were likely to switch most or almost all their business to a company that is more enjoyable to work with. “Enjoyment comes from transactions that offer value, easy access and appeal to emotions,” according to the study.

Outside ad and marketing partners should help attain that goal, said Temkin. “Instead of just focusing on external brand communications, agencies should help companies deliver interactions that live up to the promises of the brand,” he said. Agencies can help marketers “understand expectations being set in marketing campaigns, avoid brand promises that the marketer can’t keep and unearth brand elements that are already being reinforced in the company’s interactions.”

A key example of an enjoyable transaction? Temkin points to E*Trade’s Cash Optimizer, a “tool that makes it easy to look at potential returns from different investments and then makes it very easy to move cash from one place to another,” he said.