Consumers Don’t Want to Engage with Brands
According to a study involving more than 7,000 consumers from Corporate Executive Board (CEB), only 23 percent of consumers indicated they have a relationship with a brand. The researchers also found that for most consumers, increased interactions don’t drive relationships and often work against purchases.
In a posting on Harvard Business Review, the CEB researchers — Karen Freeman, managing director; Patrick Spenner, another managing director, and Anna Bird, a senior researcher — wrote that, in the minds of consumers, relationships are reserved for friends, family and colleagues. A typical explanation given for not having a relationship was, "It’s just a brand, not a member of my family."
At the same time, for those having a relationship with a brand, only 13 percent cited ‘frequent interactions’ as the primary reason for having that relationship. By far the largest reason given was ‘shared values,’ cited by 64 percent.
Moreover, while helpful interactions can quickly drive highly-favorable relationships, there’s no correlation between a higher level of interactions with a customer and the likelihood the relationship with turn "sticky." Wrote the researchers, "Without realizing it, many marketers are only adding to the information bombardment consumers feel as they shop a category, reducing stickiness rather than enhancing it."
While touting the value of brand messaging around "philosophy or higher purpose," the overarching message was to "stop bombarding" consumers who don’t want relationships "through endless emails or complex loyalty programs," since these efforts equate to low ROI. For those indicating a willingness to communicate, the quality of those conversations should be high and relevant.
"Instead of relentlessly demanding more consumer attention, treat the attention you do win as precious," the researchers concluded. "Then ask yourself a simple question of any new marketing efforts: Is this campaign/email/microsite/print ad/etc. going to reduce the cognitive overload consumers feel as they shop my category? If the answer is "no" or "not sure," go back to the drawing board. When it comes to interacting with your customers, more isn’t better."
The research comes after a recent article in The Wall Street Journal noted that retailers are trying the cut down on spam e-mail. The article cited research from Responsys Inc. that showed in 2011 the nation’s top 100 retailers by e-commerce revenue sent recipients an average of 177 emails apiece, up 87 percent from 2007.
- Three Myths about What Customers Want – Harvard Business Review – Harvard Business Review
- Stores Smarten Up Amid Spam Flood – The Wall Street Journal
- Facebook Is About People, Not Brands–So What Is Your Company Doing? – Fast Company
- Tweet It, Like It, Watch It, Buy It. Leo Burnett/Arc Worldwide’s New Study Finds 95 Million Americans Use Social Media To Shop – Leo Burnett/Arc Worldwide/PRNewswire
Discussion Questions: Do you think consumers want a relationship with brands or companies? How would you define a good “relationship”? What are the keys to creating brand communications that help to develop the relationships that marketers seek?