Brand loyalty trends challenge current thinking
Viewing consumers and their habits and opinions in 'high definition' has provided some interesting insights into Britain's changing society, according to research by Experian which found that, while online brand loyalty is increasing, the bulk of the Web 2.0 generation are less affluent consumers.
The 'HD:UK' report details the emergence of what Experian calls the 'High Definition society', and identifies a number of new trends that illustrate how viewing customers in high definition can benefit brand marketers.
While younger, well-educated professionals were the original early adopters of social networking web sites and forums, the latest analysis from Experian Hitwise revealed that people from disadvantaged groups are now the most common social network users. In contrast, the well-off professional and managerial class of consumers are significantly less common users of such web sites.
Searching for a discount and holding out for a special offer or bargain are now behaviours most likely to be associated with better-off consumers, rather than less well-off consumer groups. Some of the most affluent groups are among the most likely to visit discount voucher, rewards, and comparison shopping web sites in search of money-off coupons and bargains.
The report also noted that more than half of all consumers (55%) claim to "be likely to delay buying something until it's on special offer", and this figure that rises to 68% for professional and managerial consumers.
Increasingly complex lifestyles and a fragmented media landscape are also forcing consumers to resist 'push communications'. For example, almost 30% of consumers now view advertising unfavourably, and most consumers have developed the ability to tune in and tune out from the ever-growing wave of marketing and advertising campaigns vying for their attention.
Consequently, many consumers only notice brand messages that have high levels of relevance to gain their attention. Online search trends underline the fact that consumers are increasingly seeking out only information that is relevant to them. For example, the number of searches involving only one word has decreased from 24.5% in 2007 to 20.4% in 2009, and over 45% of the searches tracked so far in 2009 have consisted of three, four or five word searches. At the same time, 90% of the most popular online search phrases now contain a reference to a brand, compared to only 66% of the most popular searches in 2005.
According to Jim Hodgkins, managing director for Experian's marketing services division in the UK & Ireland, "This study illustrates that appealing to today's consumers means taking a one-to-one approach to marketing. It is all about developing a deeper understanding of people and their preferences, and communicating in a way that is far more transparent, engaging and - above all - relevant, in order to build an effective and lasting relationship with them."