What’s really motivating my consumers to buy or advocate?
Even in today’s information-rich environment, the answer to this age-old question remains elusive for Fortune 1000 marketers relying on custom research and social media sources.
Leveraging “why” consumers are more willing to pay a higher price, tweet about your brand, or forward information about your products to friends requires new understanding about consumers and how they connect to brands. Consumer connection isn’t the physical interactions occurring between consumers and their brands, the likes and dislikes about product features, or even the so-called “levels of engagement” used to observe and frame online behavior.
Creating a better future. Fitting in with others. Becoming a more interesting person. Consumer connection occurs when an individual consumer “connects” with your brand as a means to realize these ends. Combined with the right messages about your brand and its products, consumers can connect to your brand beyond what is simply rational. These connections drive steep increases in purchase, loyalty, and advocacy. Now, put marketers in the driver’s seat. If they could leverage these powerful motivators, then their brands--and customers--would become much more valuable.
We don’t blame marketers for failing to harness the power of consumer connection. The truth is that until data on these kinds of connections fits into the fast, fragmented, results-driven reality of marketing today, marketers will lean only on the data that’s already on hand.
Where’s My Connection Intelligence?
Even though it’s 2011 and data is everywhere, marketers still operate every day without actionable data on consumer connection. In almost every other aspect of business--sales, finance, operations--current data is available to apply to and justify business decisions. While senior marketers--and CEOs in their speeches and annual reports--frequently talk about the importance of building connections with their consumers, marketers simply don’t have real-time access to the intelligence they need.
Where do they turn to now? Custom market research is how most marketers go about it. Interestingly, not much has really changed in the way custom research is implemented since the days portrayed in TV’s “Mad Men.” Custom research still starts with a narrow problem, a budget allocation, vendor selection, survey design, research fielded, results gathered, data analyzed--and then, a couple of months and tens of thousands of dollars later, comes the deck and presentation. While custom research can be extremely valuable, marketers can’t possibly apply it to build consumer connection across today’s myriad marketing programs and diverse segments at the pace of business today.
The Missing Piece
Reluctance to go out on a limb to promote, for example, more emotional or human creative ideas within today’s more accountable, data-driven world is understandable. Unfortunately, what’s measured and in hand today misses the upside of consumer connection.
Satisfaction has been a measure of customer loyalty for decades, but it alone doesn’t explain why a customer becomes a raving advocate. And it doesn’t really address what might attract a prospective customer to the brand in the first place. New consumer connection data from Motista illustrates this.
We recently looked at two very different categories, e-readers and banking, and focused on mothers as a segment to find out what was motivating them to advocate. We found that moms who feel emotionally connected to their e-readers and banks are far more likely to advocate for their brands in social media, recommend their brands directly to friends, be more loyal, and purchase additional products.
Consider this: While connected and nonconnected moms both give their brands almost identical scores on satisfaction and quality, connected e-reader moms are significantly more likely to feel their e-reader brand helps them be closer to loved ones, express who they want to be, and fit in with friends. The same kind of “delta” occurs with connected moms in banking and with all segments and categories across the spectrum.
Clearly, connection is the difference.
Recent innovations in consumer intelligence, plus how to evaluate a potential solution.
The Internet has spawned many new and exciting developments in the way consumer intelligence is mined and applied. Many of these solutions, however, still miss the mark on consumer connection.
A lot has been riding on social media and sentiment analysis to derive insight into consumers. Knowing what consumers are saying about your products is, of course, important. Consumers, however, do not readily reveal their true personal motivations in this forum. First, people do not always admit how a product really makes them feel about life or themselves. Second, these unconscious motivations lie beneath the surface and just don’t bubble up in conversation. A consumer might say, “I love my new Mini,” but they may not offer up that “it makes me feel more youthful and interesting.”
Online communities offer a unique and valuable twist on custom research. This new medium is vastly easier and less expensive than focus groups, and it offers anonymity that arguably promotes higher-quality answers than focus groups. However, projects still take time to implement and manage. Furthermore, findings are still qualitative and not readily available for a wide range of programs.
Enter consumer connection intelligence: Solutions that explicitly focus on helping marketers understand and leverage consumer connection are now emerging. When evaluating a connection intelligence solution for your company, ask yourself whether it does the following:
- Does it tell you the right connections for driving outcomes--like purchase, loyalty, and advocacy--in your specific category?
- Does it provide current, high-quality data on your brand that passes muster for corporate decision making?
- Does it apply to a wide variety of segments, so the right connections can be leveraged to motivate the target of your specific program?
- Does it consider what touch points and tactics you could use to best deliver connection?
- Is it easy to use for marketers as they work?
Marketers have to ask themselves another question: Are they ready to embrace modern solutions? Old habits die hard. But with more marketers within a company touching consumers in more ways, working faster than ever before, doing more with less and needing to justify decisions, intelligence has to be where the action is.
Companies now applying consumer connection intelligence are seeing change. We've seen it with our own clients: A marketing team within a large U.S. bank, with connection intelligence in hand, shaved three months off the front end of their campaign-planning process and aligned agency and internal constituents more easily than ever before. A well-known consumer electronics marketer used connection intelligence for online advertising going live in two weeks, and boosted click-through 35%. Marketers within a home-products brand immediately learned which connections drove purchase with upscale Hispanic consumers and improved sales overnight. A top retailer’s social media director built a report in a few hours that showed the CMO the value of social media customers, and justified a major increase in his budget.
For most marketers, consumer connection has long remained an intriguing, but elusive concept. Gurus and research experts have tackled it from many a direction, all requiring significant investment in time and money. Technology and innovation has finally caught up with an obvious need for on-demand connection intelligence.
The above examples prove what’s possible when marketers choose to cross this chasm.
That’s the power of connection.