Survey: Consumers would rather buy online from brands

Discussion
Oct 09, 2015

While most purchases take place by way of third-party channels, consumers would prefer to buy directly from their favorite brands if given the option, according to a survey from BrandShop, a digital commerce solutions provider.

The survey of 1,055 adults found that a significant portion of online sales are occurring through third-party retailers, with 78 percent of respondents making frequent purchases on Amazon. Only 37 percent buy directly from their favorite brands, yet 82 percent expect to have the option and 88 percent would buy if given that option.

"Consumers transact with third parties out of necessity, not preference — they do so because their options are limited," wrote BrandShop in the report.

The types of brands referenced included apparel, CPG and electronics categories.

The survey also found that 58 percent of respondents start their product search on Google while 22 percent go directly a brand’s website. Only 14 percent started at Amazon.

Brandshop chart

BrandShop said, "For brands, it’s just as important to be on the top of Google’s search results page as it is to deliver the full experience for shoppers to convert initial site traffic into satisfied, loyal customers."

Finally, the survey showed that while most online purchases are made over a third-party retail channel, more than half of the respondents hold the brand responsible for any shortcomings.

Also pointing to the opportunity for brands is the finding that only 18 percent of survey respondents were highly satisfied with their online shopping experience.

BrandShop said the findings show consumers are "looking to transact, not only engage with a brand," and are also placing high value on the amount and quality of information available.

"For years, brands have invested in engaging with consumers across a host of mediums only to forget that true consumer engagement happens when they interact directly with a brand," said Greg Johnson, EVP, co-ECD at Swirl, in a statement. "BrandShop’s survey results demonstrate how new consumer preferences are changing the paradigm of e-commerce and there’s a much needed return to focusing on direct consumer engagement and transaction."

In your opinion, how has online retail altered the way consumers interact with their preferred brands? Does it make sense that consumers would rather transact directly with favorite brands online than third-party sellers?

Braintrust
"I don’t believe consumers would prefer to transact directly with their brands as a rule. This might apply to infrequently purchased categories but the effort it would take to do your weekly grocery shopping on a brand-by-brand site would be ridiculous."
"You know, once you understand a brand’s styling and sizing, it’s just a lot easier to look at the company’s full assortment on its own site, rather than start at a retailer that has cherry-picked the items that suit its identity."
"Uh oh. Disintermediation rears its ugly head again. Certain CPG marketers may fantasize about "a world without retailers," but the role of the intermediary (wholesaler, shopkeeper, middle-man, re-seller, etc.) is rooted in practicality and millennia of history."

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18 Comments on "Survey: Consumers would rather buy online from brands"

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Max Goldberg
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

A lot of this survey doesn’t make sense and seems to be self-serving for BrandShop. If consumers want to buy directly from brands, why are they shopping on Amazon, and why is Amazon the most trusted retailer in the county?

Brands need an online presence. They should use that presence to interact with consumers, not just sell. The easier it is for consumers to get the information they want, to get their questions answered and to learn how to use products, the more favorably they will look on the brand.

Dr. Stephen Needel
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

I don’t believe consumers would prefer to transact directly with their brands as a rule. This might apply to infrequently purchased categories (such as electronics or durables) but the effort it would take to do your weekly grocery shopping on a brand-by-brand site would be ridiculous. Would love to see BrandShop break out their data by product category.

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

You know, once you understand a brand’s styling and sizing, it’s just a lot easier to look at the company’s full assortment on its own site, rather than start at a retailer that has cherry-picked the items that suit its identity.

Then the logical thing to do is make sure pricing is consistent … if the retailer is running a deal on the same item and the price difference is significant then I expect shoppers will go there, but beyond that it’s definitely easier to go straight to the source.

The dance between retailer private label and brands that are in competition with them is a fascinating one. I think the brands will ultimately win.

Mark Heckman
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

Too many brands, so little time. While consumers may aspire to having direct relationships with brands, realistically I doubt if they have the time or patience to do so.

Retailers, whether they be online or brick-and-mortar, aggregate and present all the brands a shopper typically would purchase. If they do so in a shopper-centric manner, they will continue to be a viable agent between brand and shopper.

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
2 years 2 months ago

Amazon has made it so easy, why go to a brand site? They have a huge assortment, their pricing is often reasonable, they have critical mass so it’s easy to see what a large group of shoppers thinks of an item, checkout is one click, Prime shipping is simple and reliable and returns are minimal hassle. For those who don’t like to spend time shopping, Amazon wins in the vast majority of cases.

For those who like to go to a variety of sites to try to save a little money, find real niche items or browse physical stores, that’s another matter. But Amazon just keeps getting better.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

I am afraid this makes no sense to me. Why would a consumer want to go to multiple websites rather than just one to get what they need? Maybe I don’t understand the brand definition here?

I just put in a Staples order. I bought paper and ink and some other supplies. It was my “favorite” paper brand and my “favorite” ink brand. Why would I go to two different sites to order the same thing? Or the other day I purchased a tablet and coffee filters from Amazon. Certainly a strange combination. But it was a lot easier than going to the brand’s sites. Even though my favorite brand of jeans is Levi’s, I always go to Zappos because there might be an alternative.

I am entirely in the other camp on this. I see more and more business going to third-party online retailing. They have so much more to offer in every way!

Roger Saunders
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

Trust offers a powerful bond to all relationships. That type of bond carries over to the brands consumers choose to buy. The experience in buying the brand may be one that is established through casual or ongoing experience, or it may be from the sense of trust that the CPG brand may engendered through messaging.

If the bond of trust is strong enough, it makes perfect sense for the consumer to choose to deal directly with the CPG brand, or numerous other brands from manufactured goods or services.

Online retailing has expanded the number of brands the consumer can view, deliver it on the consumer’s timetable, and provide the time value and convenience that further reinforces the trust that has already been established.

MATT POWELL
Guest
MATT POWELL
2 years 2 months ago

Brands have done a great job of building and nurturing a relationship with their consumers. Retailers have not done a good job of creating these relationships. So it is natural that consumers will gravitate to the brand site first.

Also, no multi-brand retailer is capable of stocking the entire range of any large brand, so for the Millennial who is seeking unique and yet familiar products, the physical store experience is lacking.

We will not see all physical stores disappear, but there will be far fewer than there are now in the space of just a few years.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

I think the premise that consumers want to buy directly makes a lot of sense if people think it’s cheaper. And why wouldn’t they since the third party makes some kind of profit — in theory, at least — that can be passed on to the consumer in their absence?

Whether/not this works out in reality, of course, has a lot to do with the specifics of the product, and whether/not the brand is really equipped to sell retail.

Gajendra Ratnavel
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

Yes, absolutely. Retailers bring several brands together to give the consumer better options and service. However, in the online world, the consumer has the power to do this themselves, and going to the brand directly cuts out the middle man.

James Tenser
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

Uh oh. Disintermediation rears its ugly head again.

Certain CPG marketers may fantasize about “a world without retailers,” but the role of the intermediary (wholesaler, shopkeeper, middle-man, re-seller, etc.) is rooted in practicality and millennia of history. Digital or in a straw hut, they ain’t going away.

Exploding a grocery store order into dozens of individual transactions and deliveries every week would be the height of stupidity. Forcing a shopper to study multiple manufacturer sites to make a decision about what flat screen to buy would make the decision harder, not easier, and while thwarting comparison of features and price.

Curating a product assortment, controlling prices, and consolidating orders are significant services to consumers. Brands that think they can sidestep these benefits had better offer something of unique value — Nike’s custom designed footwear comes to mind.

So like others here, I’m pretty skeptical about these survey results. There will always be a few exceptions, but mass market brands need a mass marketplace.

Vahe Katros
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

Yes. Of course this depends on the category, the person, the type of purchase, the relationship to the brand, and availability of the product to name a few top of mind attributes. Here are some specific use cases.

For products that are on a schedule, I like Amazon — but some of what I get is from third parties so where there are quality/risks, I think Amazon has a chain-of-custody problem.

For hard to get stuff or niche stuff that’s on Amazon but sold by dubious sources with low in-stock positions,  I buy from the brand.

For my running shoes — a category of trust  I go to the brand. That’s in a category where I the activity is very important and the risks are high (think injury/being derailed).

For event related shopping  like preparing for the unexpected apocalypse  I go to a big box store.

Furniture and bedding are… Um, wait a minute — this could go on all day, so the answer to your question is: Yes, and it depends.

Doug Garnett
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

We need to take care. Consumer responses to surveys like this rarely match up with consumer behavior if all the recommended steps were taken.

The survey didn’t, for example, explore why consumers may avoid brand websites or why they might distrust them. There’s far more going on with consumers than reflected here.

And in my experience each brand is unique. Each brand needs to consider its own situation and whether they can create the kind of situation where their consumers will want to buy directly from the brand.

My suggestion: Take this article with caution and go analyze your own reality — it’s probably much different.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

You have to think about the fact that the majority of shopping in physical stores has traditionally been done via “third-party” retailers, versus directly from a brand’s store, with a few exceptions. We shouldn’t expect online retailing to be any different.

Kenneth Leung
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

I have rarely purchased directly from a brand site unless specific some type of customization only offered through the manufacturer is involved. For example, I buy my Otterbox iPhone case from Otterbox because they offer custom configurations only available on their web site. I think consumers would transact with brands directly if there are exclusives, otherwise they would go to retailers.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

This doesn’t make sense, and I’m not sure the respondents understood the question. One of the reasons that Amazon has been successful is that you can go online and order Christmas gifts for five people and do it in a single order. Why would you prefer to order each item you want individually? Sounds like a ton of work, and an excuse for major shipping fees.

Peter Charness
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

The decision to purchase isn’t based on a single factor. I like that brand so I want to purchase it. If the price is the same or “close”, I feel assured that if I choose to press “buy” with Amazon my credit card is pretty safe, and the delivery is absolutely assured. I don’t have to set up another registration and password, and my shopping history is easy to get at if I need warranty service. And if I need to return, or replace, with Amazon that’s quick and easy as well.

The brand gives me confidence in buying the product; the “intermediary” gives me confidence in managing the transaction. So why deal with the brand directly when the shopping experience is already in place elsewhere and in the end I get the same product at the same or better price?

Jonathan Hinz
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

The fact that sticks out to me most in this survey is that 58 percent of respondents start their product searches on Google, and only 22 percent go directly to a brand’s website. For online retailers, this means SEO and search rank are more important than ever before. While buying AdWords can help boost your search rank, there are other steps brands can take to improve their rankings. First, they must make sure their websites are optimized for mobile. If not, Google will feature their websites less prominently on mobile search results. The second thing brands can do is boost the number of third-party reviews of their websites. More than 30 reviews in 12 months will improve SEO and result in the star ranking that you see under many reputable websites.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"I don’t believe consumers would prefer to transact directly with their brands as a rule. This might apply to infrequently purchased categories but the effort it would take to do your weekly grocery shopping on a brand-by-brand site would be ridiculous."
"You know, once you understand a brand’s styling and sizing, it’s just a lot easier to look at the company’s full assortment on its own site, rather than start at a retailer that has cherry-picked the items that suit its identity."
"Uh oh. Disintermediation rears its ugly head again. Certain CPG marketers may fantasize about "a world without retailers," but the role of the intermediary (wholesaler, shopkeeper, middle-man, re-seller, etc.) is rooted in practicality and millennia of history."

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