Does Brand matter in the age of Shopper Promiscuity?

Brand Strategy

Does Brand matter in the age of Shopper Promiscuity?

Our once tried-and-true consumer “path to purchase” has died. In its place are shoppers that many call promiscuous – they are more willing than ever to leave one brand for another.

Our once tried-and-true consumer “path to purchase” has died. In its place are shoppers that many call promiscuous – they are more willing than ever to leave one brand for another. In a recent eBook, Dawn of the Promiscuous Shopperwe explored what is driving these attitudinal changes and how these generational shifts are going to change the shopping experience forever. However, that doesn’t mean that what your brand stands for and the emotion it can elicit no longer matters. I absolutely contend that brand DOES matter, even in this fickle marketplace.

Purchase Filters and Brand Strength
In fact, as online shopping behavior has transitioned into our everyday consciousness, ‘brand name’ has become just one of many “filters” that we use to narrow down our ultimate purchase.  Putting on our consumer hats for a moment, let’s imagine how we might start to filter down our search for a new television…

Size: 55” – 65”
Price: Between $750-$1,000
Features: 3 HDMI ports, 4K Ultra High Definition, Smart TV
Brand: ….. brand. Hm? Well, I want something that will last 10 years, won’t look outdated in 5, and I will have a sense of pride when friends see the brand name while we watch sports together…

In the example above, it’s easy to see that filters such as price, size, and features have consistent parameters from user to user – often aligned with user-centric needs (living room space, current budget, etc.)  However, brand is a true wildcard.  Once users decide to activate this brand filter, they’ve moved beyond the physical attributes of the item and are looking to make a statement with their purchase.

With shoppers willing to explore all of their options when investing in a new product, a brand must not only have a strong and consistent identity with a full understanding of where it fits within the marketplace, but they must also pinpoint which customer needs its identity most closely aligns.

Connecting with Changing Consumer Needs
It’s equally important to remember that customer needs are dynamic – shifting from purchase to purchase.

Let’s look at Jessica for a moment.  Jessica is an older Millennial, looking to show the world that she has found success in her career.  Right now, she’s into luxury goods and is mulling over two “treat-yourself” moments – a new handbag and a new leather belt.  She knows the specifications she is looking for and has activated her brand filters…

  1. For her handbag, Louis Vuitton is at the top of her list carrying a strong connotation of quality, refined craftsmanship, and tradition.
  2. However, when she begins looking for belts, while Louis Vuitton carries the same emotionally-tied benefits, she has additional needs which no longer align with the brand. She no longer places a priority on understated luxury and wants her belt to add flair to her outfit, effectively dropping LV to third on her list.

Just from this one example, we can see that this isn’t just a luxury brand problem.  In the social media age of curated personas, consumers are looking for brands to showcase the lives they want to present to the world. Brands that align with these values will be at the forefront of their purchase journey – be it through values of giving, sustainability, providing opportunities for others, or continued innovation…  The possibilities are endless, but the alignment with consumer needs remain.  Putting the customer first and pinpointing where your core values and your costumer’s needs intersect will keep you ahead of the competition. For now.

About the author: Eddie has more than 10 years of experience in the market research industry and is currently a Director at Alter Agents.  He aligns his passion for consumerism, human behavior, and data-driven story telling with helping his clients answer strategic business questions by putting the consumer first – making sure everyone finds the value they are seeking along the way.

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