Call them conscious consumers.
A new report out today by Blis, a mobile location and behavioral advertising solutions firm, describes a new breed of consumer, created after the last recession, with perpetual access to an unprecedented amount of information via their mobile devices. These hyper-connected consumers want deals with the brands and retailers they purchase from most frequently, and they expect to be handsomely rewarded for their loyalty.
Researchers from Blis found that 69% of these consumers research price and products all the way to checkout, and 30% put unrewarded loyalty at the top of their “turn-offs” from brands.
Although these so-called conscious consumers tend to be motivated by rational thought over emotion, when it comes to spending decisions, one-third will throw brand loyalty out the window and switch to a cheaper product if it’s comparable in quality, according to Blis’ report.
“There were a few contradictions or juxtapositions that surprised us from the data,” says Alex Wright, head of global insights at Blis. “While 20% of consumers are turned off by shady business practices and want their brands to be morally upstanding, good citizenship doesn’t always translate to taking a vocal stand on societal or political issues.”
Sixty percent of consumers in Blis’ research reported little appetite for political content from brands, regardless of how highly they value the brand’s morals.
“As with many other things, what we think, what we say, and what we end up doing are not always consistent,” Wright says.
Another example of that juxtaposition had to do with the desire for “rational” communication from brands. Seventy-one percent of consumers said they prefer rational content, like product and pricing information, over emotional content, but 44% said they’re much more likely to engage and forgive brands they “like.”
“It led us to conclude that successful brands need to engage with conscious consumers ‘in the moment’ for immediate returns while also investing in the longer term, emotional bank to ensure they ride out future mistakes or service failures,” Wright says.
Data privacy was another topic broached in the Blis report. Sixty-five percent of consumers said they’re willing to share data only if it provides them with tangible benefits, like discounts on products.
“Brands have to offer value in return—whether that is early access to sale information, discounts or promotions, exclusive experiences, or building an affinity and sense of belonging,” Wright says.
Given the realities that come with catering to this new demographic of consumers, Wright says he hopes retailers are prepared to understand that there are no hard and fast rules anymore, as the power has shifted to the consumer. Retailers need to let go of their old marketing strategies or risk being left behind. Overlaying location data with behavioral insights is one way that brands can attain a clearer picture of when and how to swoop in and make sales, even at the very last minute.
Detailing the keys to success in this new landscape, Wright says location data should be a central part of every brand marketer’s playbook. Retail marketers must employ a location-based approach to gain a full picture of the consumer, and only by understanding where actual consumers are in their journey to purchase will marketers be able to add value for the consumer and strengthen that relationship in the long-term.
“Our research gives overarching strategic guidelines to help guide brands in engaging with this new kind of consumer,” he says. “Brick-and-mortar is not dead; strategies just need to be tweaked. The retailers who are thriving in this new consumer environment have quickly adapted to these required tweaks. They understand that what was true of pre-2008 recession consumers is no longer true and that new habits have been formed.”
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.