Heavy web users show volatile brand loyalty
More than half (52%) of consumers say they are likely to abandon a brand as a result of having a negative online shopping experience, according to research conducted by on-demand e-commerce firm Demandware.
The survey examined the shopping behaviours and preferences of heavy internet users - those who use the web several times each day to find information from multiple sources.
Of the 454 such consumers surveyed across North America, the UK, France and Germany, 90% of them said they were smart phone users, highlighting a significant trend in shopping experiences and retail engagement touch points. The research found that, compared to traditional retail consumers, these 'smart consumers' have greater expectations of both retailers and the overall brand experience.
When presented with a positive online shopping experience, they are more likely than traditional consumers to reward retailers with brand loyalty, with 67% indicating their willingness to share a positive experience among their network of friends and family. However, this same group can also be very unforgiving, with 72% feeling compelled to share a negative online experience with friends and family, and 70% turning to a competitor as a result.
Web-centric consumers use a variety of touch points and channels to inform their purchasing decisions, placing increased pressure on retailers to provide holistic and exceptional experiences across all touch points. Consequently, as consumers increasingly share opinions and attitudes across web and mobile-enabled social networks, a single poor experience has far-reaching consequences for retailers, who risk disappointing these consumers and losing them for good.
The study also found that a bad experience in one channel doesn't only impact a consumer's perception of that channel, however, with many associating a negative experience with the entire brand: 52% of smart consumers who have a bad experience online are less likely to shop from that brand again, even through an offline channel, while only 38% of traditional consumers shared the same attitude.
Although they increasingly shop across multiple channels, smart consumers tend to trust the web above all other channels as a means of accessing product information, so it has become a critical touch point, even in-store. Some 83% identified their web-enabled smart phone as "the most valuable and useful in-store technology". At the same time, 69% of consumers said they trust web-base data, including product information and reviews, more than information obtained from an in-store sales associate, while only 16% believe that sales associates are the best source of product information. However, 43% of consumers said they would trust a sales associate more if they were aided by a web-connected device.
"By enabling increased access to product information, smart phone ownership increases the expectations that consumers have of retailers. With smart phone adoption projected to outpace traditional phones by the end of 2011, the fast-growing smart consumer population will quickly become the majority," concluded Jamus Driscoll, vice president of marketing for Demandware. "Retailers not prepared to deliver exceptional brand experiences and ubiquitous access to product information run the risk of alienating these consumers and losing market share to their fast-moving peers."
The full study, entitled 'Examining the Changing Consumer, Part 1', has been made available for free download from Demandware's web site - click here (free registration required).