In a time of divided loyalty and almost unlimited choice, brand switching has become a new headache for retailers. New research from eBay Advertising has found that almost a third of shopper journeys are carried out without any predetermined brand loyalty in mind. So how can retailers prevent consumers switching?
In an era of price-comparison, increased reliance on recommendations from peers, and ease of access to product reviews, brand loyalty has become harder for advertisers to maintain.
Research from the Future Foundation found that polarisation of loyalty is a key trend as marketplaces have become crowded and consumers are overwhelmed with choice.
The research found that 50 per cent of respondents said they are less loyal to brands than they used to be, while over 70 per cent agreed that they 'shop around' to find the best deal.
New findings from eBay have further cemented evidence of the phenomenon, revealing that many shoppers consider several brands before making a purchase, with only 37 per cent of online purchase journeys focused on just one brand.
When eBay Advertising assessed the 'switcher' opportunity for two competing technology brands, the results indicated that almost half of consumers began their shopper journey for Technology Brand A more than 10 days before they made their final decision to purchase – suggesting retail brands have a lengthy window of opportunity to influence and guide shoppers.
However, although 56 per cent of buyers that initially searched for Technology Brand A remained loyal and went on to buy it, 38 percent began their purchase journeys with a generic search term for the product.
Meanwhile, six percent first searched for Technology Brand B before going on to buy Technology Brand A. This demonstrates that by putting the processes in place to engage and retain undecided shoppers at the right time in their purchase journey, Technology Brand B could have significantly increased its market share.
“On average, ‘switchers’ compare three brands before making a decision; by tapping into rich consumer insights, marketers have the ability to intercept or retain customers before they even consider ‘switching’.
This also gives brands the potential to grow market share by tempting consumers to ‘switch’ away from competitors,” says Rob Bassett, head of sales at eBay Advertising UK.
“APR – availability, proximity and reassurance – is also important to “switchers”. Brands should ensure that they are always present when their customers are in a shopping mindset, that they are ready to tempt people away from competitors should shoppers begin to look elsewhere and that they reassure consumers that they’re making the right choice.
“Marketers shouldn’t leave ‘switchers’ decisions to chance – they are an extremely valuable audience because they are the swing voters of shopping. What’s more, in comparison to their ‘loyalist’ or ‘brand agnostic’ counterparts, the cost to convert or retain a ‘switcher’ is relatively low, but has the potential to deliver tangible, long-term ROI.”
Shopping behaviour has changed significantly as a result of the recession, with consumers placing greater scrutiny on the products and services they want to spend their money on.
Pauline Robson, director of real world insight, MediaCom, says: “Many people have become much more value focused, looking for the right relationship between quality and price rather than just the cheapest item. For many this behaviour is set to stay, which means that the potential to tempt switchers with a value-based message is huge.”
Robson adds that the challenge for brands remains offering the right message at the right time.
“The challenge has always been identifying those people most likely to switch, so that brands can be in the right place with the right message at the right time. This is where behavioural insight is crucial. The watch-out here is that switchers aren’t bombarded with re-targeted messages that might cause a negative reappraisal of the brand in question.”