The Brand Experience Gap: Why NZ brands are facing their biggest challenge yet

OPINION: I’ve always been fascinated by the divide between brand and customers’ real experiences. So much so, that along with my team at Accenture Song, we’ve been on a mission to uncover the truth about how well Kiwi brands are delivering on their promise to customers – ‘The Brand Experience Gap.’

We recently commissioned a first of its kind research study in New Zealand, with market researcher FiftyFive5. We talked to 2,479 New Zealanders about their experiences and interactions with 80 brands and eight sectors, from financial services through to media and entertainment.

The verdict?

Over 71 percent of Kiwi brands are not fully delivering on their promise – and are letting down their customers.  

We suspected the findings would be disappointing, but the brand experience gap is wide across all eight sectors.

The biggest challenge Kiwi organisations face today is to close the gap between what they promise and what customers experience. When customers see such a glaring gap, their trust for the brand erodes.

The travel and tourism sector have the biggest gap, with 78 percent of New Zealanders saying airlines, airports and booking agents are not fully delivering to promise. Media and entertainment companies were the second-worst performers across all sectors, with 72 percent of New Zealand users saying providers don’t fully deliver on their promises.

“Having confidence the provider will pay out” was the single most important area for insurance customers, while media and entertainment customers wanted brands to “do better at refreshing content.”

Despite financial service brands having the smallest gap at 63 percent, New Zealanders said financial providers are failing to help them meet their goals, or feel valued and recognised.  

And we can all relate to this. We’ve all been lured in by grand promises and then the experience is miles away from our expectations. As a customer, you’re left feeling let down.

So, why is this happening?

Storm Day.

There are multiple factors that influence this: customer expectations play a part, but many businesses are scrambling to cut costs and protect profits against a strained economic backdrop. The first things to suffer are usually marketing budgets and customer engagement standards. This research shows us what customers care about and where it will make the biggest impact in helping close the gap.

We understand how tough it is to join it up, but it is critical that organisations unify brand and experience if they want to grow sustainably. Promising one thing and letting customers down when it comes to the experience is detrimental.

Accenture Song believes that when you put a meaningful purpose at the heart of an organisation it becomes the north star and guides a cohesive brand and experience. A purpose must be the driving force of culture, operations and experience.

And we know that consumers are four times more likely to buy from brands that they trust, staff are four times more engaged and profit growth of purpose-led organisations is six times more than their competitors.

We are on a mission to help organisations close their brand experience gap.

We all have a responsibility and an opportunity to ‘mind the gap’ and give Kiwi customers the experience they deserve.

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About Storm Day

Storm Day is the Chief Business Officer at The Monkeys and Accenture Song (Accenture’s digital creative division).

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