The study was commissioned by OLIVER, the in-house agency specialists, asking 1,000 UK consumers about their relationships with brands and the emotions roused by brands at different stages in the customer lifecycle.
When asked when they felt closest and most engaged with a brand, the vast majority chose stages that were either post-purchase, or beyond the point of traditional above-the-line advertising.
The largest group – 38% – said it was when they were already using the brand’s product, falling to 30% among those aged 18-24 and 29% of 25-34-year-olds, but rising to 43% of those aged 55+. A further 23% said that it was when they were looking at a brand’s website, and 21% that it was when they were in-store speaking with a brand representative.
Sharon Whale, chief executive officer at OLIVER Group UK, commented: “These results are interesting because they show that by the time consumers are properly engaged, their exposure to brand advertising has already long passed. When you visit a brand’s website, you’re often likely to have already bought from them via a third-party retailer.
“Similarly, if you’re talking to someone in-store, something has probably inspired you to reach that stage. It begs the question, if brands are spending heavily on the path to purchase, and opening conversations with consumers, why not do more to keep those conversations open post-purchase?”
The findings also indicated that consumers are highly sensitive to receiving the right degree of post-purchase care. The biggest single issue or mistake a brand can make is the mishandling of customer data, cited by 61% of respondents. A broader group was concerned by the frequency of brand communications; either too frequently (51%), too infrequently (8%), or not sufficiently tailored to them (17%).
The survey also highlighted generational differences with 23% of 18-24 year olds being concerned by brands not responding to messages on social media, compared to just 14% of those aged 55+.
Whale continues: “The difference of opinions amongst the eldest and youngest age groups highlights what should be obvious, but apparently isn’t: that brands need to avoid a ‘one-size-fits-all’ attitude to marketing strategy, and invest in tailoring approaches to consumers based on the right data. As well as seeing social media as an important touchpoint, the younger generations seek to digest a broad spectrum of content post-purchase – and this will only rise as we see Gen D (the digital-era generation) reach spending power. It indicates that brands need to be thinking longer-term about adapting their lines of communication.”
The research also highlights the industries that consumers feel most detached from, with the worst performing including: gaming (37%), utilities and financial services (both 32%), delivery services and automotive (both 31%) and telecoms (30%). The least detachment arises when they deal with food & drink (10%) and retail (8%) brands.
Whale concludes: “Our research proves that industries that prioritise personalised customer journeys, delivering real engagement, are rewarded with better customer value and retention over time. It’s no surprise that retailers are performing strongly here. CRM emailing, blogs and fluid site content cater for consumers’ proactive concern for how they’re treated and engaged with pre-, during and post-purchase. Brands have to decide what is more valuable – a quick hit or longer-lasting relationships with customers.
“With more and more channels to manage, and more points at which to engage with consumers, brands have to move with greater speed and agility than ever before. And this throws the traditional agency model into question. We know that the speed of change is a key concern for brands. Working inside our clients’ businesses enables us to tackle this head-on. Having an agency presence within the four walls of your business enables both parties to move at the pace needed to keep up with today’s engagement hungry consumers.”