By David Webster - General Manager - Marketing Solutions, Salmat. This article originally appeared on Salmat.com.au
These days, brands are competing in a more competitive environment than ever before. Consumers are savvy shoppers; they have access to more information and more brands, which is driving new behaviours around shopping and empowering them to make more informed purchasing decisions.
Consequently, as a marketer it may come as no surprise that brand loyalty is low – not just for your brand, but also for your competitors. According to Salmat research, Aussie consumers today are only loyal to between one to four brands. They’re also extremely price sensitive, with ‘Price’ the number one influence on purchasing decisions (83%). Two thirds would try new products and brands if they were on sale or had a promotion attached, and on average across 10 different categories, two in five (38%) would switch brands if the price of a product they regularly buy increases.
In an era of low wage growth and increased online shopping, and with the arrival of more overseas retailers including Amazon into Australia – price sensitivity and the constant search for the best deal will accelerate.
However, low loyalty isn’t the be-all and end-all for brands. Here are three ways marketers can keep their customers coming back:
1. Keep a pulse on what your competitors are doing
The savvy brands keep a close eye on what their competitors are doing – how they’re promoting their products, the sales and promotions they have on at specific times of the year, and how their own product sales are affected by those promotions. By doing so, they’ll be better positioned to play the game and remain competitive.
From there, marketers can decide how they can compete on price, and then promote this through the channels consumers are using to research and discover products and sales.
There is a reason catalogue marketing continues to prove itself as a resilient marketing channel in Australia – it has high cut through with bargain-hunting consumers, who continue to refer to them to stay up-to-date with sales and promotions.
Consumers today use both online and offline channels to research and discover brands and sales. To capitalise on this opportunity and make sure they’re reaching consumers through multiple channels, marketers should be looking to bolster their efforts around catalogue marketing by incorporating digital platforms like Lasoo and their own websites to communicate sales and promotions online too.
2. Let people try before they buy
Although it may not be a viable strategy for all brands, sampling can be incredibly effective for those with larger marketing budgets – to launch or promote a product.
Moving customers through the buyers’ journey can take time. By implementing a sampling campaign, the marketer essentially leapfrogs the consumer past the awareness and evaluation stage. This puts brands one-step closer to conversion – especially when discounts or incentives are offered with first purchase.
Marketers should also use sampling campaigns to discover insights about their customers and engage them more deeply in the brand or product – so don’t forget to close the loop by driving customers online. Do this through including QR codes on samples which can be scanned using a smartphone or tablet and directs the user to a landing page to track response. Make sure to include a call to action asking customers for feedback on the sample via SMS, email or an online survey.
3. Keep your brand top of mind through regular incentives
Consumers today are used to regular sales – in the current retail environment, regular repetition around promotions and incentives is the norm. The flagship sales that were once a key part of a brand’s marketing strategy – the annual Boxing Day sale, end of financial year sale (EOFY), etc. – no longer deliver the long-term impact they once did. Instead, brands can tap into this sales mentality by strategically aligning promotions at key regular intervals when their target market are most likely to shop.
By utilising a loyalty program to communicate promotions and incentivise subscribers, invite to exclusive events, and reward with ‘individualised’ offers around birthdays or milestones; marketers can keep the brand front of mind with consumers and boost sales at strategic points throughout the year.
Many loyalty programs in Australia have not evolved, but clever marketers are making an effort to engage consumers in innovative ways and drive an emotional response. Some, like youth retailer Culture Kings, are partnering with well-known ambassadors and invite loyalty members to special events via social media. Others, like Australia’s major airlines Qantas and Virgin Australia, are creating a more encompassing loyalty program by partnering with other brands and enabling access to further discounts and promotions.
As brand loyalty fades, it’s critical that marketers harness the above strategies to increase market share and stay competitive in 2018 and beyond.
By David Webster - Head of Salmat’s Media division
This post originally appeared on the Salmat blog in a slightly different form.