How Do Consumers Engage With Brands In An Increasingly Digital World?

Marketers have never thought of digital as a wonderful place to build a brand, but they should:

  • 65% of consumers have had a digital experience change their opinion about a brand
  • 97% of them report that experience influencing whether or not they purchased a product or service from that brand

Actions Speak Louder Than Advertising

Branded experience is the new advertising. And consumers are increasingly hungry for them, sometimes ravenously so:

  • 97% have searched for a brand online
  • 77% have watched a commercial on YouTube
  • 69% have read a corporate blog
  • 65% have played a branded, browser-based game.
  • 73% have posted a product or brand review on a site like Amazon, Facebook or Twitter

Brand Culture Or Fan Culture?

Conventional wisdom holds that consumers don’t want brands encroaching on their social lives – but that’s just not true:

  • 76% of consumers welcomed brand advertising on social networks (FEED, 2008)
  • 40% of consumers “friended” a brand on Facebook and/or MySpace
  • 26% of consumers have “followed” a brand on Twitter

The Outlet Malls Of Tomorrow? Facebook, MySpace & Twitter

Marketers shouldn’t assume that consumers are as passionate about their brands as they are: Consumers don’t want a conversation with brands – they want deals.

  • 44% of consumers who follow a brand on Twitter do so for deals
  • 37% of consumers who “friended” a brand on Facebook and/or MySpace do so for deals

Bottom Line: Digital Brand Experiences Create Customers

Digital is not simply an “awareness” or CRM play, it’s a customer-creation play. The overwhelming majority of consumers who engage with a brand online move from passive “receivers” to advocates almost instantly:

  • 97% report increased brand awareness
  • 98% show increased consideration
  • 97% will more likely purchase a product
  • 96% may recommend the brand to their friends

Consumers Turning First, Foremost To Digital

According to Forrester consumers now spend nearly as much time online as they do watching TV*. We found that their technical fluency is far greater than most believe:

  • 57% of consumers actively customize their homepages
  • 84% share links or bookmarks
  • 55% subscribe to RSS feeds
  • 33% get their news from Facebook
  • 20% get their news from Twitter

*Forrester 2009 Technographics Survey

Mobile Internet Service Use Skyrocketing

Mobile Internet services are being consumed broadly. Majority of consumers own a smartphone and;

  • 57% access the Internet from their phone
  • 50% have downloaded an app for their phone
  • 30% have interacted with an ad banner on their phone

Connected Consumers Are The New Mainstream

Are Consumers Really In Control? Conventional wisdom says that every generation of consumer grows smarter, shrewder and more immune to marketing. But that’s not true – consumers are actively choosing to engage with brands, everywhere.

  • 40% have “friended” a brand on Facebook and/or MySpace
  • 26% have “followed” a brand on Twitter
  • 77% have watch an advert on YouTube
  • 69% have read a corporate blog post
  • 73% have posted a review of a brand on a site like Amazon or Yelp
  • 52% have blogged about brand’s product or service

Facebook And Twitter Creating Fan Culture For Brands

After deals, the main reason consumers “friend” a brand? Because they *really* are a fan (or a customer, at least). Social media platforms are proving to be customer service platforms.

  • 33% friend a brand on Facebook/ MySpace because they are a customer
  • 24% follow a brand on Twitter because they are a current customer
  • 23% follow a brand on Twitter for “interesting or engaging” content, which shows promise for a new type of relationship

Fans And The Future Of The Marketing Funnel

Brand culture and fan culture are dramatically reshaping the traditional funnel as consumers leap from experience to advocacy (or the inverse) almost instantly.

  • 70% have participated in a brand-sponsored contest
  • 24% have produced content to participate in a contest
  • 26% have attended a brand sponsored event, such as Nike’s Human Race
  • 24% have downloaded a branded application for their mobile phone

Experiences Not Only Build Brands, They Make Or Break Them

Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple and Nike are all experiential brands that know consumer preference isn’t formed in reaction to a message, but to a series of experiences over time. There’s good reason. Of consumers who interact:

  • 97% report increased brand awareness
  • 98% show increased consideration
  • 97% will more likely purchase a product
  • 96% may recommend the brand to their friends

Getting To The Bottom Of Brand Engagement

Everyone is chasing after a metric to define brand engagement. Millward Brown says “digital consumers” have 15% stronger relationships with brands. The Altimeter Group attempts to correlate social media activity to financial performance, citing Dell, Starbucks and eBay as leaders.

We took a different tack: we simply wanted to know if there was any direct correlation between a consumer’s digital interaction with a brand and their likelihood to purchase a specific product or service. 

Digital Experience Create Customers

The answer was a resounding “yes”. Experiences have a much greater influence over brand affinity and consumer purchasing than even we anticipated:

  • 65%of consumers have had a digital experience change their opinion about a brand.
  • 97%of those report that experience influencing whether or not they purchased a product or service from that brand.
  • 64% of consumer report making a first purchase from a brand because of digital experience (e.g. website, banner, etc.)

Five Brands That Are Excelling In An Experience-Driven World…

  1. UNIQLO: Japanese Retailer Surprises And Delights Audiences With Every Interaction
  2. Red Bull: Pioneered Experiential Marketing With Subversive Events And Sponsorships
  3. Barbie: Reinvented An American Icon For The Pop Sugar Set And Broke Sales Records
    “We’re not in the business of keeping the media companies alive. We’re in the business of connecting with consumers.” – Trevor Edwards, Nike
  4. Nike: Human Race. Chalkbot. Nike Is Setting A New Standard For Experiential Marketing
  5. Virgin America: Brand Built By Breakthrough Experiences – And The Marketing Of Them
  6. Microsoft’s Bing: Accomplishing The Impossible By Putting Experience First And In Every Ad

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