Steps Your Brand Can Take to Win Over Competitors’ Customers

Defectors blog post featured image

Steps Your Brand Can Take to Win Over Competitors’ Customers

Expanding your brand’s market share isn’t easy. If you’re trying to win new customers while keeping your own, you need customized marketing strategies for different shopper personas to be effective. At Alter Agents, we start to sort consumers in a given category using the Shopper DIAL:

  • Defectors – start with a brand in mind but switch to a competitor.
  • Impulsives – make decisions on very short notice.
  • Ambivalents – have no particular brand in mind, and are up for grabs.
  • Loyalists – have a brand in mind and stick to it.


Our Shopper Influence Research found that between a third and three quarters of shoppers start their purchase journey with no brand in mind, depending on the category. We call them the Ambivalents, and they’re the easiest acquisitions because no one brand starts with a leg up.


But what about those shoppers who start their purchase journey with a brand in mind, but proceed to buy from someone else? We call them the Defectors. They represent a much thinner slice of the market, ranging from 4 to 5% of shoppers in a category. But that’s still a meaningful margin – about one in every twenty purchases.


Read More: We discuss the full Shopper DIAL in our book, Influencing Shopper Decisions.


This small but mighty group matters because something happened along the shopper journey that significantly shifted the outcome. What held so much influence? How did a brand lose a potentially loyal customer? Even if chasing that small a group doesn’t excite you, the strategic implications of knowing how to definitely should. Knowing that gives your team invaluable insight into the most powerful drivers that influence decisions in your category, either in favor of your brand or against it. Alter Agents CEO Rebecca Brooks offers strategies for capturing them in her column for Forbes, titled “How to Win Over Your Competitors’ Customers.”


Here are five steps your team can take to help your brand win over these Defectors and grow its market share:


Step One: Figure out who they are

Before you figure out how to peel off your competitors’ customers, you need to understand who they are. We’ve found that the profile of the average Defector changes with each product or service category, so this is custom research that your brand will need to conduct, specific to your business. To be reliable, it’s research that needs to be truly customer-centric, not focused on a specific brand.


Understanding what separates the Defectors from the loyalists is important because it allows you to follow where brands in your category fall behind even when they have a big leg up at the start, potentially helping you see where your constant acquisition strategy should focus. But understanding the average defector’s demographic information isn’t enough. We need to go deeper into their motives.


Step Two: Look at their push and pull factors

What aspects of a brand or product attract these shoppers, and which dissuade them from purchasing? Do changes in their life stage or economic situation impact their degree of brand loyalty in your category? Is there a specific marketing strategy or piece of messaging that’s really attractive, or one that rings tone deaf? 


Identifying what circumstances motivated a Defector to reach the key moment they decided to abandon their intent to buy from their starting brand and switch to a different one is crucial. Was it a factor outside the marketer’s control, like a change in the shopper’s life? Or was it something the marketer did that pushed or pulled their target away?


Step Three: Figure out what information they need

Shoppers are hungry for information. And they all do research before buying – even the impulsive ones. So once you know who the Defectors are and what motivates them to switch mid-journey, it’s time to connect those insights to the information you need to provide in your marketing. For example, if you’re a cleaning products brand and your research shows that the Defectors in your category are turned away from a product if they see it has components that are harmful to the environment, the information the shoppers need to be attracted to your offering is a clean, green ingredients list.


Once you’ve established who they are and what they care about, let that information inform your targeting and messaging strategy. And while you’re at it – make sure that marketing pops up where shoppers want to see it so your information is consumed by the right people at the right time.


Read More: Is social media marketing right for your target audience?


Step Four: Lower their barriers to purchase

Okay, you’ve figured out who the Defectors are, what they care about, and what information to give them to bring them closer to your side. To keep them from defecting again, it’s time to seal the deal, and quickly. That means breaking down any barriers to purchase they might encounter. 


These could be actual, unscalable barriers like your offering being out of stock or unavailable. Your ecommerce portal could be glitching or you’re not present in a convenient physical retail environment. These are nuts and bolts items for your operations team to address.


But the top barriers that shoppers have cited to us are things that sow seeds of doubt about a product in the shopper’s mind. Worries like “I was hesitant about purchasing from a brand that was new to me” or “I was concerned about how long the product would last” or “I wasn’t sure it was a good deal.” Those are doubts that you can allay with your marketing copy, so research what the top barriers are to shoppers in your category and tear them down for people making their way to you.


Step Five: Make sharing easy for them

Once you’ve won the day, it’s time to celebrate! Our research has confirmed that word of mouth is a highly-influential source of information for shoppers, so make it easy for your customers to generate it. Give them prompts and avenues to talk about what they bought so their networks know that switching to your offering is worth it.


That could be encouraging them to join a social media campaign with a hashtag or something experiential, like an augmented reality engagement. They’re your best ambassadors, so make it easy for them to step up to the microphone!


Taking the first step to winning over your competitors’ customers requires conducting customized research that gives your team reliable insights. We’re experts at that.


Let’s Get Started

Thought Leadership Updates

Get updates in your email.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

More Posts