Initiative: Consumer Engagement Key To Brand Choice


The Internet has become so embedded in the consumer purchase consideration process that more than 40% of customers now say they will not buy a brand if they can't find the right information about it online.

And for big-ticket items like cars, TVs, computers and mobile devices, that percentage climbs to more than half of all customers. But online research by consumers also influences the purchase decisions for everyday products like shampoo and fast foods, where over 20% of customers say they will not touch a brand without first seeing the required online information about it.

That's according to a new consumer survey by Initiative, the Interpublic Group media agency. The shop surveyed over 4,000 consumers in five markets, including the U.S., Australia, China, Germany and Spain. The agency also conducted interviews with consumers in China, Colombia, Thailand, Italy, the U.S. and the U.K.



"Brand consideration has become a key pastime for over half of the population -- 52% of our interviewees said they enjoy searching online for a wide range of brands and products," the survey reports.

One lesson for marketers, per the study: "Consumer involvement with brand communication is a key to unlocking growth. The more we can get consumers to participate with our brands in paid, earned and owned media, the more a brand will grow."

The survey also found that the research that individual consumers do is often spread far and wide. More than half of the respondents said they would share brand information such as coupons or special sales events via email and social media. About 40% said they do this to inform other people, but more than a quarter said it has just become second nature to spread the word -- they almost do it out of habit.

And it's a habit that Initiative says is a "wake up call for marketers. Consumers are becoming ever more active in their brand choice, and engaging in brand messaging across earned and owned channels, particularly online."

As a result, the study concludes that marketers "must seek to increase the level of engagement they have with consumers across all channels. The battle for brand choice is increasingly a battle to engage and involve consumers in the purchase process with brand messaging in order to win consumer purchase choice."

The agency offered client Hyundai as an example of how to apply the insights. The carmaker had a problem in the U.S., where it believed it had a high-quality product but low consideration among consumers. The company discovered that while it received numerous positive consumer and expert reviews for it vehicles, that word wasn't getting out in a scaled way. So the company aggregated all the reviews on a new Web site, which it featured in its TV advertising.

The new Web site, the agency said, created "a powerful owned media asset for the brand." And TV ads touting the Web site created a "powerful combination of paid earned and owned media which was responsible for significant growth in consideration and market share." Purchase consideration rocketed 70% and market share soared nearly 60%, per the agency. Following the campaign, Hyundai recorded the highest opinion and consideration scores in its history, Initiative said.

To optimize the combined power of paid, owned and earned media, the shop concluded that brands must map their consumers' touchpoints and connect to the consumer at every point in the purchase path -- both online and off.

"Give consumers an experience, not a rotation of messages," the shop urged those attempting to orchestrate paid, earned and owned media to maximum advantage. "It's not a mathematical exercise. Creating compelling consumer experiences in which touchpoints interconnect across all media requires innovation and creativity." And that, the study concluded, is the key to success.

2 comments about "Initiative: Consumer Engagement Key To Brand Choice".
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  1. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, August 22, 2011 at 12:12 p.m.

    Interesting research, Steve. But the conclusions sound like a typical case where ad theory is imposed on top of results - regardless of whether the results reveal those theories.

    Seen through other eyes, I'd suggest that there isn't anything new here in brand engagement. Cnsumers have always spent considerable time checking out purchases before they buy.

    The line that strikes me as most agency-self-serving is this one "Brand consideration has become a key pastime for over half of the population -- 52% of our interviewees said they enjoy searching online for a wide range of brands and products".

    It is a far stretch between "52% say they enjoy doing some searching online" and the idea that this is a "key pastime" for them. In fact, that's egregious overstatement from any research study. Shame on Interpublic.

  2. Trevor Finch from Corus Radio Winnipeg, August 30, 2011 at 9:11 a.m.

    The phrase that stood out for me the most was if they can't find "the right information" online.

    Companies spend so much time and money developing clever ads and using SEO and social media to drive traffic to their sites that they ignore the basics that people want information they trust. If you use 100% sales-speak within your site, you're like everyone else. But make it a hub for reviews, comments and solving problems, and your website becomes trust worthy and so does your product. The Hyundai campaign is a great example of that.

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