A recent report confirmed the existence of a new breed of consumer with a sophisticated approach to brand loyalty, according to Telemedia Online. The ‘conscious consumer’ has emerged from the post-recession period with a sharper eye for business ethics and a clear understanding of their value to brands.
The Unlocking the New Consumer Hierarchy of Needs report from Blis found that 55% of consumers now drop a brand if they have a single negative experience with them, while 69% are susceptible to make purchasing decisions based on a well-timed price reduction, a personal coupon or product ad.
Conscious of what?
The term ‘conscious consumer’ has been around since the 1970s and is usually associated with shoppers with a particular niche interest; for example, socially conscious or environmentally conscious consumers.
The new conscious consumer has more of an all-round consciousness than focusing on one particular element. Many people experienced financial pressure during the recession and learned to become brand wary, taking more care with purchasing decisions and expecting to be rewarded for their loyalty. A total 30% of consumers put unrewarded loyalty at the top of their list of brand turn-offs and 65% will only share data if tangible benefits are provided in return.
Conscious consumers value product quality most, followed by price, availability, perceived value, then brand values. Seven in 10 consumers (71%) claimed to make purchasing decisions on a rational rather than emotional basis. Where an emotional affinity with a brand has been established, 26% are prepared to forgive a mistake (as opposed to 20% with no affinity).
Researching business credentials
Conscious consumers take the time to check up on businesses before buying; 69% of buyers research a brand and compare prices before making a purchase. This increases the scope for rival brands to lure customers away with targeted offers, right up until the point of purchase.
Where brands used to have a high degree of control over how customers perceived them, modern communications technology makes consumers more aware of dubious ethical practices and any claim of wrongdoing by a brand will be easily found online. In fact, 20% of consumers said they are turned off by ‘shady business practices.’
Although consumers want their brands to be ethical, a line is drawn at businesses serving up political content. Almost two thirds (60%) of consumers said they had no appetite for political content from brands, regardless of how ethical the brand was perceived to be.
Finding opportunities to reach conscious consumers
Gil Larsen, VP Americas at Blis, said the report reveals positive takeaways for brands looking to engage conscious consumers: “Not least the fact that, while they research and compare on larger financial investments, these new consumers are spontaneous when it comes to lower cost, in the-the-moment buys.”
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