Some marketers believe that brand loyalty is dead; mercilessly killed off by the Internet, social media and mobile. The truth is brand loyalty has simply changed and evolved. Today’s consumers are probably more media aware, marketing literate and tech savvy than any generation in history. They just won’t tolerate the push, interruption marketing of yesterday. Nevertheless, old habits die hard.
Although marketers have more ingenious, surgically precise tools than ever before we often use them as blunt instruments to bludgeon consumers. Remarketing, for example, serves up a company’s ads after a prospect has visited their website. It’s a clever Google innovation. It’s also incredibly annoying.
Many consumers accept that brands must be active on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. However, there’s a paradox at work here. The same consumers who are willing to click on a link to take part in a competition, prize draw, promotion or other incentive also say they will stop using social media because of advertising. In a recent Chartered Institute of Marketing and YouGov report entitled Keep Social Honest 64% of consumers said they would stop using social media if they were bombarded with brand advertising. 61% of consumers said they were irritated by marketing and advertising on social media. The report also offers some insights into how little consumers trust the content brands serve up on social. Nearly half of all respondents said they would boycott a brand if they felt they were being misled by marketing messages. So brands are always walking a tightrope between building credibility and a loyal following and alienating the very same people.
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How Do Consumers Choose a Brand?
Brands are like people. They possess their own distinct characteristics, personalities and values. Consumers often choose one brand over another because they know, understand and identify with these traits or aspire to them. It’s a similar process to the way we pick our friends and build social circles. At the heart of this process is trust. We all love brands that keep their promises, exceed our expectations, surprise and delight us, and do it all consistently. In a world of digital overload, customer reviews have emerged as a handy barometer of trust. Something like 65% of consumers read reviews before making a purchase. Websites like Amazon and TripAdvisor have come to exemplify this phenomenon. These sites are far more powerful than anything social media can do for brands.
Cultivating brand advocates is a relatively low cost, high impact marketing approach. Consumer-to-consumer word of mouth marketing generates more than twice as many sales as paid advertising. 90% of brand advocates write something positive about their purchase experiences. Advocates tend to spend more than twice as much on their favourite brands than the average customer according to the Branderati website. What’s more, brand advocates are prolific content producers. But how many brokerages have a brand advocacy program?