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The channel-savvy consumer: Why brands must evolve or risk losing customers

By Marie Myles, Director of Analytics and Consulting

May 10, 2012 | 4 min read

Earlier this year, Experian Marketing Services conducted research with both consumers and marketers to explore how brands need to evolve their marketing approaches to keep up with the ever-changing, channel-savvy consumer.

It is no surprise that consumers today are increasingly comfortable with communicating across multiple channels, and expect brands to understand who they are and tailor their interactions accordingly. Brands must place the customer at the heart of their marketing strategy, or risk losing market share. The simplest way to do this is by creating a single customer view (SCV) – a readily accessible summary of a customer relationship across different products, brands, businesses and channels which enables personalised multichannel engagement. Only then can communications be tailored according to a customer’s previous interactions and purchasing behaviours.

Experian surveyed 2,000 UK consumers to explore how they expect to be treated by brands in today’s multi-channel world. The results are illuminating for marketers. Three quarters of consumers (74 per cent) said they would respond positively to a brand that they believe “understood them” and that connected with them on an individual basis. More than half (57 per cent) said that they would actively recommend the organisation, while 45 per cent would tell others about their positive experience and 44 per cent would actively sign up for additional marketing from that company. Twenty nine per cent of respondents agreed that they would make additional purchases from a brand that communicated with them on a highly personalised level.

But it appears that many British marketers may be playing catch-up with this new consumer mindset. Experian also surveyed 400 businesses and found that while 72 per cent had started to build a single view of their customers, only 16 per cent felt that they already had an effective SCV solution in place, while a mere 2 per cent said that they were able to capture data across every channel. It is no wonder then that many consumers are turned off by marketing that they feel is inappropriate to them when the vast majority of companies have what can best be described as only a partial view of their customers.

A staggering 84 per cent of consumers said that they would step away from a brand that repeatedly targeted them with either incorrect or irrelevant information. Factors that most irritated respondents included repeatedly offering goods and services that they have already said that they were not interested in and contacting them in ways flagged as unwanted. Older people and the more affluent among us found this most annoying, which is a key point to remember when we think about the spending power and influence of this group.

What this research has made clear is that the consumer expectation of brand communications has shifted dramatically in recent years. Mass communications are no longer an appropriate way to engage with customers who exist at the centre of their own multi-channel network: communicating across Facebook, Twitter, email and by phone and by mail as they wish.

This ever-growing number of channels across which consumers communicate has been identified by some as a headache for marketers – with a raft of data available, it can be difficult to make sense of what has been called a data explosion. Yet the rewards of sifting through and linking the data are many, enabling brands to communicate with consumers on channels that they welcome, boosting engagement and driving interest in products. Taking the time to build an effective single customer view is of mutual benefit to both brand and customer. It should be the norm and will increasingly become so as marketers work to keep up with consumer expectations.


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