The DMA Customer Engagement Conference, hosted in London, is an annual highlight for marketers everywhere and this year’s was no different. It has never been more important to look outside of your own sector, specialism and market for insight and inspiration and I’m delighted to share that this year’s conference offered a wealth of data, insight, storytelling, and case studies to not only inform, but inspire its audience to achieve more.
Focused on “How to win back customers and rebuild loyalty” the conference was chaired by Clive Head of Santander. He opened the conference by sharing the DMA’s Customer Engagement Committee’s ambition to help their members understand how data, technology and creativity can build customer engagement.
Next came Ian Gibbs, The Director of Insight & Planning at the DMA. He shared the 2023 DMA research that headlines the conference every year. As ever it was packed with essential insight and analysis but here are some of the highlights:
- Consumers are pessimistic about the economic (56% think economy will get worse in the next 12 months, 68% think the prices of products and services will get worse in the next 12 months), but at the same time are actually quite optimistic about their own futures (65% are happy with their life, 63% are optimistic about their own future).
- As a direct response to the cost-of-living crisis, price and promotion are getting exponentially more influential in people’s brand choices and shopping habits:
- When shopping, people often change their mind about what brands/shops/sites to use as a result of deals/offers (63%)
- If a brand/shop/site I like stopped offering deals, I would stop buying from them (48%).
- Loyalty to brands, however you look at it, is declining:
- Attitudinal loyalty is declining – “I feel I am less loyal to brands and companies now than a year ago” (61% in 2023 vs 41% in 2022 vs 34% in 2020)
- Brand repertoire loyalty is declining – 47% have switched from brands they use to another, 48% have started using cheaper brands, alongside brands they normally use.
- Frequency of purchase – 41% have stopped using a product/service altogether, 78% have reduced their usage of a product/service.
- There are more “active disloyals” now. 23% of adults are actively disloyal (vs 18% in 2022).
- But the opportunity to win back customers is significant. When asked what would convince them to switch back to the brand they used before they switched:
- 56% said financial incentives would make them switch back (price or exclusive offers)
- 41% said functional incentives would do it (like better quality products/services or new ones)
- 26% said service would make them switch back (like better customer service or listening to/implementing feedback)
- And 15% said compassionate factors for society would do it (like becoming more sustainable or doing more to have a positive social impact)
After the research came a series of very interesting panels, fireside chats and presentations covering topics such as how to win back customers, how Virgin Media address customer experience, how brands and businesses can harness the power of data, creativity and tech to improve customer engagement and finally a very interesting session on cultural marketing.
There was a broad range of representation from brands and agencies covered – from agencies like Ogilvy, Dentsu and MRM, through to brands like The Guardian, Pinterest, and Standard Chartered Bank. It would be impossible to cover the whole session but here are my top 3 take-outs.
- Clare Lawson, the CEO of Ogilvy Experience EMEA talked about the importance of loyalty and how the definition and need state changes over time - “You have to think about loyalty as an end to end experience that your customer has with your brand.” She talked about the importance of high engagement at the very beginning of the relationship, where building love and excitement is key, and then, as tenure and engagement increase, how the functional components of loyalty increase in importance. This focus on how the relationship changes over time with your customers is a critical piece of thinking that loyalty marketers need to consider. One size does not fit all!
- Marie Feliho, the Director of Customer Experience at Virgin Media O2 shared some very interesting insights into her priorities for customer engagement. She talked about the importance of long-term thinking over short-term tactics. “The problem with short term tactics is that they are like a band aid – they stop the bleeding, but they don’t heal the wound. Figuring out the what and the why and how to address the root causes of these issues is key.” This focus on balancing on the long and short term is critical, especially when the world is changing as quickly as it is currently. It linked neatly back to Ian’s challenge from the research presentation – does your brand have a price promotion exit strategy for a post cost of living crisis world? And if not, we all need to make sure we have one!
- Kelliesha White, the Global Senior Brand & Culture Impact Manager at Depop () and Cultural Marketer rounded out the conference with an inspiring speech about cultural marketing and its role in customer engagement. I was completely inspired to learn how Depop, and other brands like Fenty Beauty, Skims, Twitch and Corteiz, have achieved incredible growth built on the strength of their community engagement. “When you get culture marketing right, it’s a growth driver.” Her advice on how to do this was also right on point:
- Hear from them, listen to their stories
- Be where they are
- Create experiences for them to connect
- Find your communities (where there is a genuine and meaningful connection). It was a great talk and I’m definitely going to find out more on this important subject.
All in all, it was a brilliant conference with a killer combination of data, insight, real world stories and experience on how to win back customers and rebuild brand loyalty. A lot to think about, a lot to action and I’m excited to start planning for a post cost of living crisis world!
Charlie Hills, CLMP, is the Chief Strategy Officer at Mando-Connect (www.mando-connect.co.uk) and a featured contributor to Wise Marketer.