This week we attended the Brain Food Tasty Marketing Debate and joined the discussion about how brands can change their customer’s perception.

Perception is everything – if a customer has a poor or negative feeling about your brand then it’s very difficult to change it without a real focus. In the hyper sensitive world of social media, your brand and how you respond to your customers’ issues has become increasingly important to manage and defend. 

In most cases, negative perceptions exist because the brand has not lived up to its customers’ expectations – the service was poor, the food was bad, the quality is not as good as it should be. In some instances, issues arise when brands with a particular image try to do different things and appeal to different audiences.

Brand success story: Lidl

One particular brand that was discussed during the panel debate is Lidl. The UK supermarket brand flipped the perception of cheap products to focus on providing good quality products at reasonable prices for the local community.

By increasing its budget and changing the marketing strategy, Lidl ditched the traditional reliance on leaflet drops in favour of a national, integrated approach, with significant investment in TV and digital channels.

Lidl kicked off #LidlSurprises, a £20m campaign with a national TV ad showing real consumers unwittingly trying Lidl food in a farmers’ market setting and being surprised by the quality. The branding message cleverly challenges the public’s perception of its products buy asking customers what they think about the brand. 

Being cheaper than the competition is not enough to build a brand and ensure longevity, in order to change perceptions of Lidl among the public, the brand had to change the public’s underlying belief that “you get what you paid for”.

Onwards and upwards

By successfully finding the balance between the physical and the digital world, Lidl has doubled its turnover since 2010 and carved out a 3.6% market share. Instead of focusing on cutting costs and lowering prices, it has been improving quality, building up from a low-cost base. They are now, in a way, classless and sell products that are relevant to everyone.

The reason these type of campaigns work is that they create a closer bond between the consumer and the brand by immersing them in a fun and memorable experience. Also, by capturing the public’s reaction you get some shareable content that can be posted on YouTube, or indeed used as a TV ad.