By Reginald Tucker
Taking care of customers, clients and supply chain partners during difficult times goes a long way in creating not only brand loyalty but also fortifying relationships. This emphasis on building this so-called “mind share” helps keep brands and individuals alike top of mind among consumers and even businesses associates in challenging periods such as today. The potential upside, experts note, is those customers often reward brands and companies who take care of them during those rough patches, which, in turn, can boost a brand’s market share when shoppers eventually resume their normal purchasing habits.
“Mind share is a marketing term that describes the amount of consumer awareness or popularity surrounding a particular product, idea, or company,” wrote Will Kenton, editor with Investopedia. “Practically, it is the consumer perception of a particular brand or product compared to their rivals as measured by the amount of talk or mentions generated by the public or the media.”
This marketing concept has taken on even more meaning in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic. So much economic activity has been either severely restricted or halted altogether, and it has created a situation whereby many consumers cannot access the products or services they require when they need it. At the same time, retailers, marketers and suppliers are faced with the challenge of trying to maintain or create connections with both existing and potential customers while still being sensitive to the health crisis currently facing humanity.
That was the challenge facing New Braunfels Flooring (NBF), named after the Texas city in which it is based. Much like other retailers around the country, NBF was forced to temporarily close its showroom to slow the spread of COVID-19. While the company was well aware of the potential consequences to the business, its first reaction was to offer assistance to the local community.
“Our top priority is the health and safety of our community,” said Vallerie Newman, general manager. “We are offering anyone who cannot obtain essentials for themselves to reach out so we can deliver what we can to those who need it. That could include cases of water, toilet paper or even food.”
For those customers and clients who need to finish a project as a matter of health and safety, i.e., those clients who are wrapping up a newly constructed home that needs floors in order for homeowners to move in, or if someone is living with damaged flooring that poses a safety risk, NBF can step in to resolve this as well. Using live video calls, the retailer can deploy staff to complete installations in accordance with advised safety measures.
“As a community, we need to help each other—no matter what,” Newman said. “Especially the elderly; we want to make sure everyone is safe and has what they need in order to make it through this crisis.”
Can mind share be measured?
So, is it possible to draw a definitive link between the goodwill companies practice today and the customer loyalty or market share potentially generated down the road? Experts can’t put a precise number on it, but say it certainly can’t hurt to try.
“Mind share is difficult to quantify, even with advanced advertising and social media marketing tools and metrics,” Kenton wrote. “Market share is more easily quantified—it is the percentage of a market defined either in revenue or units that an item holds compared to a competing item. While increasing market share is the ultimate goal of any business, building mind share may be part of a means to achieve that objective. Some advertising experts contend that mind share can be a better gauge of a small company’s long-term health than market share, because it signifies that a product is always available, is of high quality and is backed by quality customer impressions.”
One thing retailers can say for sure is they never forget the business partners who step up to support them when help was needed. Case in point: When Jerry Levinson, owner of Carpets of Arizona, reached out to Mohawk—one of its suppliers—to provide assistance and personnel when putting together a series of training classes, the supplier stepped up. “Mohawk helped me put on these classes on several occasions,” he told FCNews. “I’ve leaned on them many times to help me grow my business.”
Fast forward to the present challenge in maintaining business and staying profitable during the age of COVID-19, Levinson’s suppliers rose to the occasion again. “I called all my manufacturers to work out a payment plan as soon as the governor issued a stay-at-home order in Arizona,” he said. “I requested to freeze my payments, but agreed to pay suppliers the equivalent of any new orders so our account balance stays even. I have always had an excellent relationship with my manufacturers.”
That, he said, is priceless.