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What Makes Retail Brands Loved?

Acxiom BlogsAugust 17, 2016

Next we outline what criteria makes people engage with retail brands (non-FMCG, both in-store and ecommerce) –

  • What reasons would people prioritise when asked to think about why they like retail brands they favour?
  • Why do they choose to continue to shop with certain retailers?
  • Importantly, what types of interactions do they really want to receive from brands?

The Criteria for Engagement and Current Behaviours

In a survey consumers were asked to name their favourite retail brand and then to select the reasons why. When presented with a number of options, a clear hierarchy emerges in what consumers value the most.

The functional and tangible comes first, followed by more emotional reasons and then by optimised service elements – such as newsletters about new items/products.

It is clear that people’s favourite brands are the ones that are providing quality products, great service, meeting ever growing demands for convenience and offering good deals.

Ultimately consumers are happiest when their core tangible needs are being met; brands that simply deliver on these essential needs are those that can continually win favour from customers, even when they remain open to considering other brands.

Beneath these core needs, when brands are considered a favourite, there is also a real emotional connection for some consumers. 2 in 5 admit that they “just love the brand”, with women more likely than men to say so (25% vs. 18% within top three reasons). Older consumers are more focused on reliable service if something goes wrong and on quality. They are also more likely to value heritage.

Once practical considerations are met, around 1 in 5 regard tailored recommendations, and relevant loyalty schemes as reasons why they like their favourite retailers – all of which are engagement tactics that rely on use of customers’ data.

Chart 3 | Which of the following, if any, are reasons why this retail brand/shop/site is your favourite?

what makes retail brands loved - chart 3

When we consider people’s favourite retail brands by the loyalty consumer types, 45% of consumers who prioritise service factors over price factors are Active Loyals, suggesting that they will tend to engage more positively with brands that demonstrate good service elements.

Thirty three percent who determined price-related factors as more important attributes of their favourite brand fall into the Active Disloyal segment; this group are also less likely to prioritise service over low prices/deals. To engage consumers who tend to take a disloyal approach to shopping, price will always have to be competitive and value clearly communicated first.

For the more actively loyal, delivering great service beyond the functional will be more appreciated and vital to keep consumers happy.

Chart 4 | Reasons for brand favouritism split by consumer loyalty type

Chart 4 | Reasons for brand favouritism split by consumer loyalty type

Sticking with a brand

Consumers were also asked to select the reasons why they had continued to use a brand/shop or site even when they could get a cheaper deal elsewhere.

The results mirror closely the previous hierarchy of reasons for one’s favourite brand, and further reinforce the importance of meeting consumers’ core needs – as these are the immediate reasons that reassure consumers they can stick rather than switch to another brand.

Interestingly, a personalised service – that is personal in the sense of using a customer’s name – is of lowest priority when put against other criteria. The kind of personalisation that consumers find engaging is not really when a brand attempts to create a personal “Hi! Insert name” connection with customers. Whilst this is expected, it’s not respected.

Instead, data-driven personalisation that improves the delivery of the practical/core needs that people care most about – that optimises convenience, pinpoints the perfect product or makes deals and offers ever more relevant – are the personalisation options that consumers show most appetite for or engage with.

Crucially the type of personalisation that they crave relies on a retail brand carefully using customer data to create, hone and tailor communications to be relevant to them and the products they are interested in.

What consumers are interested in receiving from retail brands

This need for individualised communications rather than personal touch messaging alone is clearly shown in what consumers say they are interested in receiving from brands.

Sixty percent are happy to continue to receive or are interested in receiving offers/deals tailored to what they like or have bought before, a similar number want to receive or continue to receive reminders or recommendations for deals that are specifically tailored to them.

Other options that were presented as more general such as expert advice and tips piqued less interest from respondents in comparison. Consumers are least interested in content that is more focused on the brand itself. Just 1 in 5 would want to receive content about a brand’s items or history.

Consumers are a little more interested in receiving advice and expert tips; 3 in 10 would like to receive this from their favourite brand, shop or site. It is clear that brands that are able to find ways to present offers, deals and communications that feel personally relevant to individuals are those that will be able to achieve a greater level of engagement with their customers.

This mirrors the move from mass brand advertising to a more 1-2-1, personalised marketing focused on relevance and meeting the needs of the individual.

Latent lust for loyalty

In the above data we also highlight that the most enticing offers consumers are interested in receiving from their favourite retail brands are loyalty rewards, exclusive access to items/deals and time-sensitive discounts – which are by nature a kind of unique offer.

Loyalty and exclusivity are highly emotive engagement tools; ultimately helping to make consumers feel like they are special and delivering hard rather than soft benefits. These kinds of offers also simultaneously help to meet the consumer demand for individualised communications.

With this in mind it is interesting to note that 62% of consumers agree that they would like it if loyalty offers they receive from brands/shops or sites related more closely to what they like.

Clearly while consumers favour loyalty focused engagement there is currently a gap between what brands are offering and consumers’ expectations. Consumers are looking for relevant loyalty rewards; delivered through data driven strategies, such as using customers’ purchasing or browsing history.

DMA Customer Engagement 2016 CTA