Selligent Marketing Cloud’s annual Global Connected Consumer Index was released in September and the findings this year were especially intriguing, for a number of reasons including the pandemic and how it’s affected consumers generally; growing consumer interest in making purchases digitally; and the desire for more proactive communications from the brands they purchase from. Statistics related to behavior were fascinating, but not all that surprising, with trends like digital purchases moving from monthly to weekly behavior, and the demand for more real-time and proactive communications on order delays or changes. The survey results indicate how things have changed when it comes to consumer expectations of brands and how they feel brands treat them.
While brands and marketers may not immediately recognize it, these changing consumer attitudes and trends will impact customer loyalty and trust in brands. But you and I, as marketers, if we go one level deeper on the findings from our consumer index and look at the discoveries more deliberately, we’ll find some surprising insights related to brand trust, advocacy and loyalty marketing.
Extrapolating Loyalty Information from the 2020 Consumer Index
Some brands and marketers running loyalty and advocacy campaigns may miss the news and focus only on tactics when it comes to their marketing, asking questions like: “Why aren’t our loyal customers opening our emails?”; or “How come our advocates aren’t browsing the way they used to?” For these marketers it’s important to examine the 2020 consumer index more holistically, to extrapolate from the index results for results they can use for their most loyal and active consumers. First, for loyalty marketers there are some obvious results from our survey of 5,000 consumers that they can use to get a good understanding of what they are up against; for example:
- When asked “What makes you distrust brands the most?”, only 10% of global respondents said they trust brands they generally engage with
- The rest had various reasons to distrust brands, from bad online reviews or bad feedback from family or friends, to a brand’s or executive’s conduct, privacy, bad customer experiences, and more
But, secondly and maybe more importantly, nowhere in our survey did we find that consumers are just blindly loyal to brands for the sake of it anymore. In fact, only 8% of the consumers we surveyed said a brand name matters to them when it comes to loyalty. Consumers are more complex than simply being a “Coke person” or a “Pepsi person” anymore. Due to the seriousness of the pandemic and other cultural shifts that occurred this year, consumers are no longer necessarily concerned with the status of being associated with a brand anymore. Consumers themselves recognize that they are more complex than that – and are focused on more serious issues and concerns than simply the status that might come from being associated with a brand just for its name and image.
What Does the Index Tell Us Loyal Consumers Want?
So what does the index tell us about loyalty when we go a level deeper? Consumers are now more concerned with other, more relevant aspects of their purchases. They want more detail and practical information about their purchases. This is what will drive and create new advocates. “Tell me if the product I intend to purchase is in stock or not.” “Keep me informed about expected delivery times, cancellation policies, in-store pick-up procedures, and even safety procedures and contactless purchasing.” Take a look at what consumers told us was important to them now:
- 81% of global consumers said flexible returns/cancellation policy matters
- 76% said clearly communicated safety protocols matter
- 76% said real-time app or email updates on deliveries and delays matter
- Other purchase factors that matter included product availability, curbside pick-up, and contactless pick-up
As seen from some of these stats, it’s clear that consumers do still want to hear from brands. They want information communicated to them, but specifically about their purchases and practical concerns. In order for brands to continue to appeal to their loyal and active consumers, they need to move beyond messaging that is brand influenced, revolving around offers.
Proactive Information and Real-Time Messaging Can Contribute to Loyalty
Sure, as a marketer you can and still should send messages to loyal consumers when there is a sale on an item they like, or when the brand is overstocked on a particular color or scent or flavor they like. But brands need to focus on using real-time or proactive messaging to keep their loyal customers as just that, loyal. As noted, it’s important today to offer delivery updates or information on delays, sent to customers’ preferred channels – SMS, in-app, or email. We found that real-time messaging is important: 76% of global consumers told us that real-time apps or email updates on deliveries or delays are important to them. Don’t make your customers come to you for information about their orders. Be proactive and keep them informed at every step. This is how you build loyalty today.
In addition, marketers need to move beyond the old Amazon model of “customers like you also purchased this” messaging and instead, begin to offer what consumers actually say they prefer; factors not only like delivery updates and proactive messaging, but also when items are on sale, and special deals, perks, and freebies that they deserve as loyal customers. In our consumer index we found:
- 54% of consumers reported that sales and deals are the most valuable communications from brands
- 51% reported that perks and free products show that brands care about them
Expectations have changed. Consumers want instant or near-instant notifications on their orders, plus they want to know about sales and deals in addition to when their favorite items are available. After all, most consumers are more focused on finances, with many having been impacted financially due to the pandemic and even post-pandemic. According to our index, 75% of consumers’ have had their jobs and income negatively impacted due to COVID-19. Consequently, 60% of consumers surveyed are prioritizing essential purchases over non-essential purchases.
Ultimately, things are getting harder for loyalty marketers, due to changing consumer demands. But consumers also aren’t holding back. They will tell you what they want. And marketers need to make sure to get communications in front of the right audience at the right time on the right channel; not only about sales and perks, but also about delivery delays and offering other proactive communications. Marketing automation platforms like Selligent offer capabilities such as personalization, Smart Content, and omnichannel marketing, so marketers have all the tools before them to serve and build their loyalty marketing.
Find out more about changing consumer behavior and results from the third-annual Selligent Global Connected Consumer Index. Watch our recent webinar, “How Consumer Behavior Has Changed,” now available on demand.