Consumer-to-Brand Dynamics (what the research reveals!)

/ 28 January 2021

In new research spanning three continents, we’ve empirically investigated the changing consumer-to-brand dynamic, and laid out insights to help marketers better connect with those they’re trying to build relationships with.

Working with data specialists Marketing IQ, we went straight to the source, surveying consumers about their attitudes to brand engagements and their willingness to share data.

90 percent of all respondents said that online brand experiences need to improve. That shouldn’t be too surprising; user experience models are so often built with a taxonomy that simply doesn’t work for many, yet those flaws remain remarkably prevalent.

Brands may be comfortable doing things a certain way, but that doesn’t mean consumers are. There was a time when advertisers pointed to repeat exposure as leading to conversions and therefore justified volume. But what happens when retargeting takes exposure from eight to 800? The opposite of what brands want to happen, consumers grow frustrated and disengaged.

81 percent of consumers told us they interact with their favorite brands beyond transactional activities, but it’s how they engage that’s indicative of their likelihood to share their data. Some traditional forms of engagement have clearly fallen out of favor (many consumers are no longer willing to share information in order to receive traditional newsletters for example).

68 percent said their contact information (commonly needed in marketing activations) was the data they’re least willing to share across the board. With such data so often being marketing’s currency of success, this should ring alarm bells – especially as regulation tightens and consumers more closely guard the information that brands value the most. Data scraping and inference just won’t be possible for much longer (and have never really been that effective anyway).

Consumers are actually very willing to share their data, under the right conditions, but they expect brands to earn it.

Initiatives such as loyalty programs, which incentivize repeat business, remain universally popular and therefore present immediate opportunities for brands to build upon. Whereas most loyalty programs take a one size fits all approach (incentivizing the transactional behaviors that brands are trying to stimulate), they’re going to have to offer a lot more to achieve the type of relationships consumers want today.

Take the US, where over a quarter (26 percent) of 18-59 year olds said they prefer to interact with their favorite brands by playing interactive games and taking part in contests; that’s incredibly exciting and should prompt marketers to explore the wealth of opportunities that it presents.

The point is that marketing needs to get better at listening to what individuals want… and a lot better at acting upon it. The likes of the awesome gamified gas station app that rewards users for hitting exact cost amounts at the pump (a game many people already organically play themselves) is great for certain consumers but may be completely irrelevant and unappealing to others. In our study, for example, older demographics proved far less interested in such initiatives. The key is engaging in the right way and at the right time. One size does not fit all. 

This applies to incentives as well as engagement mechanisms. In Singapore, for example, our study revealed generational differences in the types of things consumer value, e.g. younger generations are far more likely to favor experiences. Understanding the preferences and tailoring the experience is hugely important when establishing true value.

The research shows that more people are looking for better connections to brands than are simply looking for ‘bargains’. 83% of respondents said they engaged for non-incentive reasons outside of shopping activities. Of those 83%, 61% said Connect With The Brand or Learn About New Products or Services was a reason why they engaged with the brand. Marketers need to note consumers value certain things more than discounts. They see great value in exchanges that make their lives easier, which save time and which deliver what they need, when they need it. 

Overall, Marketers are going to have to seize each engagement opportunity and earn consumer data going forward. Consumers get to ‘vote’ in every online interaction (there is always that cross in the top right corner). If they’re regularly voting against you, that should send a clear message that more work needs to be done.

Consumers must have an opportunity to shape what the value return is for their loyalty. Value perception can be radically different. Brands want trust from consumers, but brands must trust consumers first, that requires transparent and mutually beneficial relationships.

A good starting point is understanding how consumers want to engage and when they’re willing to share data, luckily (for you) those topics, and more, have been researched in this new report. 

Attend this webinar where we’ll take a deeper dive into Understanding Why and How Consumers Engage with Brands Feb 10 at 10am CT/4pm UK.
Then, check out the full report: Download our Consumer Insight Report today.

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