Brands must demonstrate loyalty to customers, not the other way around [VIDEO]

"Brands today need to demonstrate loyalty towards customers, rather than expecting customers to be loyal to the brand," Steen Puggaard, CEO of 4FINGERS, said. This is because consumers nowadays have a myriad of choices and are quick to evaluate what is in it for them. If there is nothing, they will move on.

For Puggaard and his team, the company is now aiming to create memorable experiences for its guests. Having just expanded into Australia with three stores this June, 4FINGERS is looking to launch in North America and Europe next. Some of the local influencers, artists and athletes it works with include national rower Saiyidah Aisyah for the 2016 Rio Olympics, Sam Lo (also known as "Sticker Lady") who created art pieces for its new store in Melbourne and Adrian from EATMEPOPTART for Local Motion.

Keeping this in mind, in Singapore, 4FINGERS ventured into the live music space and launched Local Motion, an outdoor festival, together with local party collective EATMEPOPTART. Having grown over time and after gaining more resources, Puggaard said it felt like the right time for the company to do something outside its stores.

"I love [the idea of Local Motion] because I think music is something that connects people across different demographics," he said. Despite being the main sponsor, 4FINGERS decided to open up the event to other food and beverage players such as Archipelago Breweries, Coffee Bandits, Dancing Elephants and Kult Kafe, by allowing them to set up stalls at Local Motion.

Meanwhile, Mutant Communications was also involved in the execution of Local Motion, which relied mainly on word of mouth and social media buzz to attract attendees, by positioning it as a "Do it now or you might miss out" event.

Initially planned for approximately 1,000 people, the event eventually saw more than 2,000 people signing up.

"This event was never something we wanted to do to make money. It was something we did to spend money on our customers because they are very loyal to us and visit us often. So, we thought it was time we give something back," Puggaard said.

"We didn’t just want to think of it in terms of return on investment. That’ll leave us very short-sighted. We believe in investing in our customers for the long-term because they will choose for themselves, the brands that are most loyal to them," he added.

Problems big brands face

Having worked at brands such as McDonald's and Burger King in the past, Puggaard said big brands are "kind of stuck" because of the risks that come with change. However, as a young brand, 4FINGERS does not have to worry about pleasing everyone. As such, he likens 4FINGERS to a blank canvas, saying that it is able to push the boundaries and be a little more "rebellious" and "subversive" as compared to large corporations.

Our rallying cry is 'Join the resistance to not be an average brand'. Be the disrupter or be disrupted.

"I don't see why consumers should not make up their minds in terms of what they can and should expect of a food brand or any consumer brand. What we are saying to consumers is free your mind and think about what you actually like to get," Puggaard said.

[gallery link="file" columns="4" ids="196985,196986,196987,196988,196989,196990,196992,196993"]

According to Puggaard, companies in the food and beverage industry need to think beyond food because food fads come and go. Companies need to increasingly focus on establishing their identity amidst the white noise and in a market so saturated with choices and established food chains. As a young brand, 4FINGERS is able to shape itself to align with current trends and consumer demands, staying relevant and competitive.

"We have positioned 4FINGERS as a fast casual restaurant that gives our customers the experience of dining in a vibrant, underground setting. We are not about speed and fast food, but about quality, taste and experience that is against the norm. There’s a demand for honest, good food, and here at 4FINGERS, we are focused on quality and ingredients, and this means we do not use artificial flavouring and MSG," Puggaard added.

Not only are its stores designed with graffiti walls and subway signs, its website and packaging also reflects a "grungy underground look", showcasing 4FINGERS' disruptive nature. In a bid to connect with and offer customers with a full brand experience, from their meals to the music played in stores, the company also created a 4FINGERS Spotify playlist.

"We will continue to lend our support to the local community, and are open to collaborating with like-minded brands who share the same vision as us to see our homegrown talents break boundaries to hit the regional and global scene," Puggard said.