Insight: DMA – How to win trust and loyalty

Half of consumers tend to remain loyal to brands they like, but the vast majority still spend time researching products to make sure they get the best deal, according to DMA research

How can businesses meet consumers’ demands to build more trust and loyalty in the future? Consumers are increasingly loyal to brands, but at the same time they put more effort into researching and finding deals. This paradox is at the heart of the modern customer. The Customer Engagement 2017 research from the DMA reveals that 80% of consumers show some form of brand loyalty.

The study, conducted by the DMA and Foresight Factory, with partners Emarsys, Epsilon, Feefo and Wiraya, found that those who stay loyal for both routine and special purchases has risen from 40% in 2016 to 50% in 2017.

Eight in 10 consumers (81%) said they are willing to spend time researching products to get the best deals. While more than half (55%) of consumers agree that they tend to use the same brands/shops/sites without looking for alternatives.

Half of young consumers (51%) find it difficult to know which brands are trustworthy, compared to 43% of those aged over 65 years old. These younger shoppers also find it difficult to know which marketing messages they can trust – 52% of those aged 16-24 years old, compared to 38% of those over 65.

Scott Logie, Chair of the DMA customer engagement committee and MD at REaD Group Insight, said: “Now in its second year, this report on the growing complexity of customer engagement and loyalty highlights that trust can be built in many different ways. To a certain extent, it can be bought through rewards and cashback. However, for sustainable loyalty and trust there is a need for brands to be more genuine, have strong values and be seen to live these values. The introduction of new technology could well become a bridge to help brands increase their emotional connection with consumers in what is becoming a very non-personal world. The appetite from consumers for new ways to engage appears to be increasing, but we’ll have to wait and see if this interest transitions into usage in the coming years.”

Alex Timlin, ‎VP Client Success at Emarsys, said: “It’s essential that brands recognise and value their customers now more than ever because loyalty has become a huge issue in the area of digital brands and personalisation. Consumers spend more and more of their time in digital brands like Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Netflix, which has disrupted old engagement models. Personalised, behavioural ad targeting makes it ever more difficult – and expensive – to penetrate these ‘bubbles’. With people spending more of their time in fewer places and increasingly on mobile, brands must focus on fighting for share of mind rather than just share of wallet.”

Matt West, CMO at Feefo, said: ““In the era of fake news, no business can take customers for granted. It’s clear from this research that previously loyal customers increasingly don’t know who to trust. All brands will have to re-address how they approach this trust problem, using every tool available, from platforms providing authenticated customer reviews, to more personalised loyalty programmes and the fast-evolving use of artificial intelligence. Brands can reap all the rewards of loyalty, but only if they give customers new reasons to trust them.”

Rachel Aldighieri, MD at the DMA, said: “Increased use of automated services gives brands more room to focus on building deeper, more emotional loyalty. But there will be challenges. Brands need to understand where new channels will be the most appropriate and effective in the short term, and which consumers will be best disposed to adopt them. The pace of technological change will continue to outstrip the legislation governing it, reinforcing the importance of self-regulation and evolving effective best practice in the data and marketing industry.”

Sam Madden, Commercial Director at Wiraya, said: “Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other emerging technology through relevant channels relies on a greater understanding of consumers and preferences in order to provide a more human approach. This will, in turn, enable greater trust and transparency to be communicated in a world where engagement is increasingly digital first. AI in particular will be key in offering businesses this human approach while scaling across a large customer base and businesses should see the challenge of incorporating this technology into their business as a huge opportunity too.”

Stephanie D’Sa, Head of Strategy & Insights at Epsilon, said: “The customer experience in 2017 has changed in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. Engagement plays an integral role in shaping loyalty today, which is only set to continue. People now have a growing expectation for personalised, relevant and consistent experiences with brands across all channels. They are still shopping in-store and online, and are increasing their buying frequency across the newest channel mobile; expecting value and loyalty at their fingertips. Brands can create entrenchment by leveraging real-time intelligence to unlock an exciting variety of instant rewards and recognition that’s consistently matched with positive customer experiences. The cost allocation between channel usage and go-to market strategy is crucial in achieving an ideal return on investment.”


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