Big brands are not dead, but customer loyalty to them is on life support. This is potentially good news for emerging brands, but only if they understand how consumers are searching for what they want in this brave new mobile world.
Think of it this way: dating apps have both helped and hindered the dating process for lots of people. On one hand, there are more options than ever and there is no shortage of first dates to be had. On the other hand, quantity does not equal quality and people get overwhelmed by all the gym selfies and beach booties to the point they can’t stop swiping. In short: an overwhelmed consumer becomes a fickle and jaded consumer.
What’s Loyalty Got To Do With It?
This dating app sentiment applies to brand loyalty. According to a report from Criteo sent to Business Insider Intelligence, 73% of US consumers are open to considering a new brand in at least one shopping category at any given point in time. This doesn’t mean that consumers are constantly looking to abandon the brands they’re loyal to, but it does suggest brands are always at risk of losing customers.
So how do consumers define their brand loyalty? In a Yotpo.com poll, they identify it as being characterized by “repeat purchasing” (67.8%), followed by “love” for the brand (39.5%), and finally, “preference despite price” (37.7%). More than a third (36.4%) of survey respondents reported that they don’t consider themselves longterm brand loyal until they’ve made five or more purchases from a brand. What’s more, nearly a third (61.1%) are loyal to a max of five brands, and 49.1% only belong to up to three loyalty programs.
The decline of brand loyalty boils down to one crucial metric: local searches. How consumers search for their brands dictates who they become loyal to. According to research conducted by MomentFeed, 82% of consumers perform unbranded searches for any given product or service. For example, rather than looking for a specific coffee brand, consumers (especially younger ones) will search by category and convenience –– e.g., “Nitro Brew Near Me.” The words “near me” are even becoming obsolete, because smartphones automatically serve as geographic homing devices.
Furthermore, consumers might just search for “Nitro Brew” and the brands that dominate the coveted top results are the ones who pay for placement within Google. Alternatively, consumers could also get targeted by a host of random (related) brands across display networks, therefore introducing them to new brands.Beyond physical location, it’s of crucial importance for emerging brands to also bid on, and own, their digital location –– such as their Google shopping category as well as keywords and visual ads.
Location, Location, Location
This cannot be emphasized enough: consumers value CONVENIENCE and LOCATION over familiar brand names when it comes to making purchasing decisions –– even if those locations are digital (ecommerce decisions made with the click of a button or image). And, when you do get that customer, you can easily lose him or her to a competitor if they are faster and closer. As a result, local and digital engagement has 5X more impact on consumer behavior than brand engagement. In fact, 50% of consumers stop doing business with a company in response to a single moment of brand disappointment.
This increasing form of consumer A.D.D. is being referred to as “digital amnesia” and if you want your brand to survive in the jungle, you better adapt accordingly. One good way to stay relevant is a little thing called “accuracy.” According to the MomentFeed research, a staggering 94% of brand locations showed inaccurate information. As we said, all it takes is a single moment of disappointment to have consumers skip over you. The less barriers to entry, the better. When you consider that 60% of all buyers are influenced by what they find on their smartphones, it stands to reason that if people can’t find you, they’ll go somewhere else.
Little things like address inconsistencies (“Route” vs. “Rt”) can make you vanish in Google rankings. Likewise, if your hours are wrong on local pages, people won’t know when you’re open –– and if you think they’ll take the time to call and ask, think again. Additionally, if you’re not listing seasonal or special promotions, the brands who are will attract shoppers away from you. Point being: if you rank below the third position in a Google search, you’re missing out on 93% of clicks.
The reality that many big brands don’t understand is that 85% of total customer engagement happens on local pages –– NOT on master brand profiles and corporate websites. The competition for customer eyeballs and wallets is now being played on a hyper-local field and brands that have a solid local search strategy grow 3X faster. Emerging brands need to invest time and resources to their local marketing strategy if they want to thrive.
The Cure To Digital Amnesia
A few ways you can gain a loyal following:
· Don’t bury “local marketing” within your organization or budget. “My digital guys handle that!” is a common perception among some brands. Hyper-local targeting is a different category from SEO, SEM, and web advertising. It’s relatively new, but staying on top of it can result in significant sales increases.
· Manage your Google Three-Pack. Shoppers are drawn to the first three businesses listed. Get on top and stay on top.
· Make sure your location data is up-to-date and specific. For example, if a consumer searches for “gluten-free pasta near me,” your business won’t show up unless “gluten-free” is on your local landing page. Effective local marketing is not a “one and done” activity. Keep your data fresh and respond to all reviews rapidly.
·Work with experts (like Giant Propeller, of course). If you don’t want your brand to die a quick death, choose a partner who understands your industry/market, supports your goals, and saves you time and aggravation. We’re here for you, and happy to walk you through how we can help.
Our takeaway: great brands will live on, but only if they are easy to find and make local-mobile search, and their Google ranking, a top priority. When you get local, consumers get loyal.