With Britons estimated to have accumulated an additional £180bn in the bank during the Covid pandemic, brand owners are falling over themselves to get a slice of the action but consumers are collectively reappraising which brands to adopt, stick with or abandon based on their perceptions of whether or not these brands are “deserving”.
So says the latest wave of Karmarama’s U OK UK? Human Insight research, which claims that speculation is rife over the extent to which the “coiled spring” of pent-up demand to shop will release in coming months.
First identified as a shift last summer involving individual consumers independently considering whether a brand is deserving or undeserving of their custom, this behavioural pattern has since become an embedded and collective movement.
Consumers’ online conversations about which brands deserve their money almost tripled at the start of the pandemic compared to pre-Covid-19 levels, U OK UK? research found last year.
Since then, the level of conversation has settled at around 60% more than pre-Covid-19 levels and in 2021, 64% of people agreed that a brand being deserving of their custom is an important factor in their decision to spend with a brand.
Karmarama, part of Accenture Interactive, also reveals the main criteria consumers use to decide if a brand is “worthy”.
Over and beyond their negative views of brands appearing to profit from difficult times – such as by increasing prices without good reason or taking advantage of the furlough scheme unnecessarily – consumers judge whether or not brands are deserving according to three criteria.
These are their treatment of employees, suppliers and customers; their ability to respond quickly but sensitively to social needs; and how closely what they say aligns with what they do.
On employee, supplier and customer treatment, U OK UK? found that in July 2020, three-fifths (61%) of people planned to spend more with brands that treat their staff well, this appraisal criterion had since expanded to include suppliers and customers. By April 2021, this figure had risen to 81%.
Consumers’ online conservations about brands’ treatment of these three groups doubled in the first three months of lockdown and are now up 25% on pre-Covid-19 levels.
On brands’ abilities to respond quickly but sensitively to social needs, the study showed in July 2020, three-fifths (61%) of consumers felt it important brands are clear about how they are helping people and society. By April 2021, this had risen to 73%.
On saying and doing, the research revealed that in July 2020, 66% of consumers became more likely to purchase a brand if they see authentic brand engagement with the issues caused by Covid-19. This had jumped to 76% in April 2021, and has extended to brands that have authentically engaged with important social issues (like national health, protest movements or human rights issues).
In April 2021, 73% of consumers felt it important that brands make what they are doing to help people and society beyond what they sell clear, while 69% of consumers said they determine how deserving a brand is of their custom based on how closely what they say aligns with their behaviour.
Karmarama chief strategy officer Will Hodge said: “Brand owners cannot afford to ignore the widespread and collective consumer reappraisal of spending that is now underway.
“There has been much discussion about the extent to which digital adoption and transformation have shifted behaviours over the past 12 months, along with how these shifts are making brands’ customer experiences evermore important.
“Both digital and experience shifts are important. But it is also essential for brand owners to understand the new considerations driving consumers’ purchase decisions while ensuring they also have the right criteria and measurements in place to understand customers’ evaluations of them and their competition.
“Today’s successful brands go beyond their ambitions to differentiate themselves from their in-category competitors. To really connect with people, appropriate and appreciative cultural and corporate behaviours are just as important as what they sell.”
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