How do consumers want to hear from brands?

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Nov 18, 2014
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Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from MarketingCharts, a Watershed Publishing publication providing up-to-the-minute data and research to marketers.

Some brand communication practices — such as sending useful information or tailored emails based on past purchases — resonate well with consumers, but other proactive outreach methods are disliked by many, according to results from an SAP SE poll conducted by Ipsos.

Indeed, 37 percent of respondents said they like it when companies they have bought something from adjust offers to them based on where they live, with 18 percent disliking this and 31 percent saying it depends on the company.

While research has found personalization to influence consumers’ purchase decisions, the SAP study finds a little more hesitancy on the part of its respondents. Roughly one-third say they like it when companies they have bought from tailor their mailings or e-mails based on what they know about past purchases, but 22 percent dislike this practice and 36 percent believe it depends on the brand.

The tide is more negative when it comes to consumers being asked if they want alerts or information sent to their phone, with more disliking (34 percent) than liking (29 percent) this. Similarly, more dislike (34 percent) than like (27 percent) offers to help via chat or phone before the consumer has asked for assistance. In each case, it’s worth noting that more than one-quarter find this dependent on the brand, suggesting that more could be willing recipients of this type of communication.

Asked about the channels they prefer to use when they want information about a company’s products and services, consumers pointed to e-mail (28 percent of respondents) first, followed by telephone (23 percent) and in-person (16 percent). Just four percent said that social media is their preferred channel.

Social is a preferred channel for sharing positive reviews, though. Among the 48 percent of respondents who make an effort to tell people online when they really like a product or service, 19 percent most often communicate the positive feedback on their own social media sites. That rivals the 20 percent who most often post on review websites such as Consumer Reports, Yelp or Amazon.

The findings were based on an online survey of 3,017 Americans conducted in early October.

What lessons does the SAP survey offer regarding to the permissions consumers are giving brands to communicate with them? How may preferences change in the years ahead with greater acceptance of mobile communications?

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11 Comments on "How do consumers want to hear from brands?"


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Dr. Stephen Needel
Guest
5 years 3 months ago

What I take away is that the majority are not clamoring for more communication, and my guess is that those who welcome communications are hoping there’s a deal/coupon involved. I continue to think we’ve overestimated how much shoppers are looking for information prior to shopping for most everyday items (I know it’s different for big ticket items).

Joel Rubinson
Guest
5 years 3 months ago

I am always suspicious of this kind of research. People will never say they want advertising yet it certainly is proved to drive sales.

Max Goldberg
Guest
5 years 3 months ago

The survey shows that people are not content with the way brands communicate with them. They don’t find the communication to be valuable. Perhaps brands need to be reminded that they need to listen and build a dialogue, not just sell.

Ian Percy
Guest
5 years 3 months ago

I agree with Stephen’s point though I would not be as gracious. Hardly anyone wants this kind of intrusion and indeed, we’re asking the wrong question. It’s not “how” should brands communicate (sell) to us—and “communicate” is totally the wrong word—it’s do we want brands contacting us at all.

To add even more grief, the implication is that consumers will welcome this imposition even while on the move through our lives. Note to “brands”: We’re just not that into you!

Dan Raftery
Guest
5 years 3 months ago

There’s a lot to this seemingly simple chart. If you just focus on the “It depends on the company” answers, you can infer that consumers are giving companies a chance to either do it right or blow it. I wonder if there is a second chance, or maybe even a third one. My guess is a company doesn’t have too many chances to recover here. Better get it right the first time.

Lee Kent
Guest
5 years 3 months ago
Here is what would be more interesting to me. Show me the open rates of the emails that correspond to this survey. Hmmmm Sure I may sign up to be on the mail list. Don’t want to miss a coupon or special sale, maybe but, if I’m not in the market, I don’t even open the email. I, like so many others, don’t mind hitting the delete button many times a day just for that one day when “I am in the market” to shop or buy from that brand. Now let’s take that another step, shall we? Say I am in the market. What do I want to see from the retailer? Let’s use Chico’s since they are a go-to store for me. What I want from Chico’s is to see what is new. I want to see outfits that pull together tops, jackets, pants, scarves, jewelry. The whole picture. I want an idea of price and sure, throw in a coupon. Does it have to be personalized for me? Nope! It needn’t be… Read more »
Naomi K. Shapiro
Guest
Naomi K. Shapiro
5 years 3 months ago

I’m afraid I don’t understand the point of offers made to people based on where they live. Put an “x” by that one.

It makes sense to me to send offers based on past purchases—at least of similar items. But it’s not essential to base offers on past purchases. And that’s how most of us have voted.

Lee Kent makes a good point saying that she likes offers that are general, showing new products, how a product looks or goes with other items. I’m for that.

I think the others (messages to phones, etc.) are too intrusive.

It’s easier, as Lee Kent says, to sort through emails, reading those that you want, when you want something; deleting those when you don’t.

Li McClelland
Guest
Li McClelland
5 years 3 months ago

I continue to be slightly more tolerant of over-communication from brands and retailers when I’m sitting in front of my home or business computer than when I am out or traveling with my mobile device. I’ve unsubscribed from an airline, a travel company, and the sports department of a major American University so far this month because they cannot control themselves with the quantity of their internet “offers.”

Shep Hyken
Guest
5 years 3 months ago

This is simple, in my mind. There are some very engaged customers who want communication from their favorite brands, as long as the communications is deemed appropriate. Like “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” so is the appropriateness of the communication. What is acceptable to one consumer many not be to another. The questions to ask are about frequency, which communication channel, content versus promotion and other related questions. The best companies give the opportunity for consumers to customize their brand experience. The more the experience is customized and deemed appropriate, the more engaged and loyal the consumer will be. As soon as the brand crosses the line and promotes too much and communicates too often, it potentially becomes the beginning of the end.

Customized communication in different channels, and especially mobile is the future.

Karen S. Herman
Guest
5 years 3 months ago

My immediate response here is for a brand to communicate in the manner most preferred by the customer. With so many options to choose from, and the fact, as the SAP survey points out, that consumers are looking for a personalized experience from the brands they engage with, it makes sense to give customers the means to communicate as they most prefer.

Certainly if a brand is going to be using text messaging or alerts sent to a customer’s phone, the conversation needs to start with more common forms of communication, and an offer to the customer of the opportunity to select communications via phone.

Also delivering on key basics, i.e. excellent product or service, fair price, and a clear message of what the brand stands for, helps to make customers more comfortable with more highly personalized types of communication and interaction.

Doug Garnett
Guest
Doug Garnett
5 years 3 months ago

My sense of the most important finding in this study…the large number of people who observe “it depends on the company.”

That’s the most honest consumer research finding on topic like this that I’ve seen in a long time. And it’s true. Do I trust what the company sends? If so, I’ll sign up. If not, no way. Do I need anything from the company? Not from the company who makes 10 penny nails. Maybe I do from Apple? Well, I don’t, actually.

That’s a truth we need to keep in mind. Do WE have anything valuable to offer consumers? We shouldn’t be sending them things just to keep our bosses or the board happy. We should only send things that are valuable to a large portion of consumers….

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