In today’s data-driven society, we have a tendency to focus on the data we collect and sometimes fail to put it into context with environmental, societal, and psychological factors impacting consumers’ behaviors and intentions. Analyzing data against the background of these factors gives way to new insights and allows us to measure the “Why?” behind purchasing behavior, attitudinal shifts towards brands, and preferred methods of sharing feedback.
To what extent does branding affect path to purchase?
In survey research, consumers are frequently asked about their propensity to buy. When considering this, they do so against a background of personal details including financial status, overall optimism, and their views of society. To truly bring to life the voice of the consumer it is important to understand these trends and the factors that impact decision-making processes in the path to purchase.
The Dynata Global Trends Report found that consumers may not identify as closely with brands as we perceive. Only 16% of people surveyed agreed with the statement, “The brands you buy say a lot about you.” Just a quarter (26%) think you can tell a lot about an item’s quality from its brand, and about one-fifth (22%) say brands help them make choices in a crowded marketplace. In the US and Canada, 44% of participants expressed having brands they love, compared to 57% in China.
A generational shift is evident in consumers’ attitudes towards brands. For example, 22% of Millennials believe the brands they buy say a lot about them, compared to only 11% of Baby Boomers. Younger generations are also more likely to believe that brands can signal quality.
All products are not created equal when it comes to branding. Attitudes towards the importance of a brand varied greatly depending on the item under consideration. According to consumers, branding is significantly more important for big ticket items than it is for smaller, often heavily-branded, items.
Age is an important indicator of who consumers trust when they are in the process of evaluating alternative brands. Three clear winners stood out when consumers were asked which information source they believed most: consumer reviews (27%), friends and family (25%), and comparative websites (20%). The least trusted sources of information included celebrity endorsements (37%) and salespeople selling the brand (20%).
For brand marketers rethinking their pricey celebrity endorsements, it is important to note that younger generations are more accepting of this advertising method than older generations. Only 28% of Millennials and 36% of Gen X’ers selected celeb endorsements as their least trusted source, compared to 48% of the Silent Generation and 45% of Baby Boomers.
In the past decade, the consumer purchase journey has been modernized. Consumers have upgraded from the traditional marketing funnel and are leaning into new methods of researching and buying products as well as providing feedback.
When asked how they preferred to provide satisfaction feedback, receiving a survey, not immediately after purchase was the favorite method, selected by 37% of participants across all countries. Twenty-nine percent preferred to be asked to take a survey immediately after purchase. Because participants recognize the value of their opinions, it is important to tailor the methods of requesting feedback to their preferences and ensure a trustworthy environment for sharing data.
Additionally, there is often a perception that people who take surveys, especially online surveys, are just in it for the money, or don’t actually care about the information they’re providing. However, we found that 60% of people believe the opinions they express in surveys about brands or companies will improve their experiences with these organizations.
Will voice-activated and connected devices change the game for consumer to brand relationships?
As technology becomes increasingly integral to people’s daily lives, understanding tech adoption rates, usage trends, and device preferences is necessary to effectively reach consumers and select channels to invest in.
Perhaps most symbolic of the relationship between technology and everyday life, is the smartphone and its indispensable role in our lives. Across all nine countries, it’s no surprise that 98% of Millennials own a smartphone, as do 95% of Gen X’ers. Even among Baby Boomers (82%) and the Silent Generation (71%), adoption is quite high.
One of the most significant developments in consumer-facing technology has been the proliferation of voice assistants (VA) and voice-activated devices. Of those with VA built into their smartphones, usage is relatively high and has gained more traction in the US and China than in any other markets. However, just because someone owns an item does not mean they use it, nor does it mean they use it as frequently as they once did. Only 29% of US participants and 24% in China reported using VA very often. Keeping a pulse on emerging technologies is key, but it’s equally important to observe discrepancies between ownership and usage.
While the smartphone provides a common access point for voice-enabled tech, companies have also made a push to get standalone, voice-activated devices into homes. Despite the technological growth of VA, ownership is low in most markets.
Of those who own the likes of Amazon Echo and Google Home, with the exception of France (52%) and the US (50%), less than half of people reported using their in-home VA frequently.
Connected and tech-enabled devices also continue to proliferate the marketplace, especially those that are truly portable, like smartwatches and fitness trackers. As to be expected, younger generations lead the way in adoption — 27% of Millennials own a fitness band, compared to only 11% of Baby Boomers.
Smart home or connected devices are one of the most tangible ways in which technology is impacting living spaces. In the US, 18% of participants own remotely controllable light switches, 14% own remote door monitors/cameras, 12% remotely controllable central heating/AC, and 8% remotely controllable appliances. However, as these types of devices continue to emerge, functionality increases, and prices decrease, ownership is expected to rise.
For those of us considering the future of market research, voice-enabled tech and Internet of Things (IoT) devices could very well be the holy grail. Enabling survey participants to literally speak their truths has the potential to eliminate lengthy surveys and create seamless consumer to brand interactions. With persistent talk about the “voice of the customer,” voice-enabled tech could be a gateway to actually hearing their voices, while transforming formal, mundane surveys into conversations.
To access our complete findings, including insights on Media Consumption and Trust and Privacy, download the Dynata Global Trends Report!