Delivering the Brand Promise Influences Consumer Spending

A Research Summary for Marketing Leaders

Major Issues Facing Marketing Executives

In a 2012 survey of global CMOs conducted by IBM, marketers are universally looking for ways to deliver value to empowered customers, foster lasting connections with those customers and measure the value of their marketing efforts. Gone are the days of a simple value proposition such as ‘great service’ or ‘best value’.  Savvy, well-connected customers expect that and more.  But for the majority of the consumer population, the barrage of email, direct mail, texts and social media noise can be overwhelming. This unending stream of marketing tactics – both on- and off-line – likely leaves many valuable consumers somewhere between confused and exhausted.

Read on to see learn how marketers can reclaim and consistently deliver on their organization’s brand promise and improve customer spending.
What This Research Has Revealed

As technology-assisted marketing tools continue to evolve, it’s important for marketing professionals to recall and leverage one of their most powerful assets...their organization’s employees. The study, “Testing the Internal Marketing Model: An Empirical Analysis of the Relationship between Employee Attitudes, Customer Attitudes and Customer Spending” demonstrates the undeniable connection between employee attitudes and customer spending. Through a series of extensive employee and customer surveys of a major hotel chain, this study identified key drivers of employee behavior and customer perceptions that, when in alignment, demonstrated an increase in total spending and spends per visit by consumers.

The primary findings of this study are as follows:

  • The key drivers of brand value to customers can be linked to customer behavior. Those drivers of brand value to hotel customers are (1) fast and efficient check-in, (2) employee efforts to satisfy customers, (3) hotel options and amenities, and (4) precision in service.
  • Perceptions of employees with respect to brand value are similar to those of customers but lack uniformity across hotel locations. This represents an inconsistency in employee attitudes and, consequently, customer experiences.
  • Customer perceptions that align with employee behavior have a direct and positive impact on customer spending. A 10% increase in one key driver, employees’ attempts to satisfy customers, translates into a 22% increase in customer spending. 
Ideas for Applying This Research 
to Your Business

Particularly interesting for marketing professionals across a broad spectrum of industries, this research supports the need for consistent, integrated internal marketing campaigns that incorporate employee engagement strategies. Here are a few examples of how to leverage your employee audience to maximize the impact of your marketing efforts.

  • Involve employees in the design of internal and external marketing initiatives. Just as important as the Voice of Customer, leverage the Voice of Employee. Especially in service industries where front line employees have direct contact with customers, it’s critical to gather their feedback and creative ideas.
  • Look for opportunities to enhance internal communications. Clear, consistent messaging provides the foundation for aligned customer expectations.
  • Recognize and reward employee behavior that directly and positively impacts the customer experience. As is evidenced by this study, customers respond favorably when their expectations of employee behavior is in alignment with the brand promise.
  • Support company employee engagement programs. Partner with your Human Resource organization to understand and influence the design of a company-wide employee engagement program. Consider devoting a portion of your marketing budget to specific employee-facing initiatives that link internal and external brand advocacy actions.
Research Basis

This paper is based on the 2007 research study Testing the Internal Marketing Model: An Empirical Analysis of the Relationship between Employee Attitudes, Customer Attitudes and Customer Spending, conducted by Forum Research Chair, Dr. Frank Mulhern, Northwestern University, along with Don Schultz, Heidi Schultz and Robert Passikoff, and produced by The Forum: Business Results Through People.

About the Forum 

The Forum: Business Results Through People, (formerly Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement) affiliated with Northwestern University, is an organizational trust for thought leadership advocating that the most effective way business leaders can create and sustain organizational value is through their partnership with people. The Forum promotes a people-centered leadership approach by: providing relevant, provocative, and actionable academic research; creating a platform for leaders to dialog, network and benchmark practices; delivering ideas for practical action and experimentation; and, building and supporting a community of champions for people-centered leadership.


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