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How New Disruptive Consumers Are Buying Brands


How New Disruptive Consumers Are Buying Brands

We’ve always known that Direct To Consumer shoppers were writing their own rules. Now, thanks to a new study by IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) anyone looking for new ways of marketing knows what those rules are.

Nearly half of consumers today (48 percent of all U.S consumers ages 13 and up) are disrupting the traditional purchase path, from discovery through purchase, the new study reports. These consumers are younger, have higher incomes and choose brands that aid their self-expression.

The new IAB Study confirms that word-of-mouth (WOM) recommendations are the highest-valued prompt for direct-to-consumer buyers before trying a new product.

Greater than reviews or social media Influencers.

But the concept of “brand value” is also transforming. It’s no longer about usage or “better, faster, stronger” efficacies. Rather, brand value for nearly half of today’s consumers comes from their ability to contribute opinions, suggestions and sharing the cool things they buy, wear or use on social media.

The fact that they also like to be the first of their friends to post about a purchase experience — means they’re also your first adopters.

If you’re not opening social portals for your consumers, you’re not just losing business. You’re losing the game.

These disruptor brands cater to the new cohort by building consumer loyalty and lifetime value (LTV) through cross-channel interaction.

Brands like to think of themselves as “personalities”—as a wallboard exercise. But today it’s the new rulebook. Imagine, for example, that your product is a YouTube or Instagram star: it pays to spread content across channels. Internet star Zach King, for example, is huge on Vine and YouTube, but also has a major Instagram following. Beauty blogger Huda Kattan writes blogs, but also has a presence on Instagram. Fitness model Michelle Lewin spreads her messages across a swath of social media channels, increasing her audience count each day.

Omnichannel adjacency pays off back inside the funnel: Search, shopping, plus social media sites bundled together equal traditional TV for brand discovery today. Great ads spark trial, but so do great product plus great social content.

This Is A Tipping Point Moment

How do we define brand loyalty for this new cohort? Key drivers include — following the brand on social media, telling others about the brand (WOM), and having a subscription from the brand.

But if you think Influencers are on their way out, you’re way off track. Today there are at least four types of Influencers:

Celebrity/Professional Influencers, 2) experts, 3) ‘Real’ people, and 4) Super Influencers.

According to the IAB study, Influencers are the “advertising” of the modern consumer economy. They not only wield power during initial purchase consideration — via posts, word of mouth and other methods, but also exercise their power further down the purchase funnel.

Disruptor consumers are over 2X more likely to say they only listen to Expert Influencers and 150% more likely to value online mentions by ‘Real’ people.

Roughly 1 in 3 disruptor consumers qualify as Super Influencers — a newly identified cohort who are strategic, deliberate, and prolific in their postings. They take the time and effort necessary to create brand-centric content to publicly build their personal brand. Some of their verbatims read like, “I like to share cool things I buy, wear or use on social media.” “Content I share online is an important part of who I am.” “Content I share online is an important part of how I want people to think of me.”

Not surprisingly, nearly half of these super consumers want samples and free shipping. But only one in five cares about loyalty programs.

Attention Is The Prize

The industry of attention is the largest, fastest-growing segment of the global economy. There are massive inefficiencies in how people’s attention is being extracted and traded and, for 80% of consumers, simply purchasing a brand is not enough to define loyalty: brand engagement and interaction are required.

As DōTerra CIO Todd Thompson, stated last week in Glossy, “The user experience becomes a strategic driver of revenue. Engagement with the customer sets us apart from other companies.”

Seizing people’s attention and holding onto it, represents the largest investment opportunity for companies in the next decade. It used to be that simply putting a product or service on the shelf (or on your site) put you in the game. Today, brands are not becoming thinner, they’re spreading their brandwidth at scale to become more relevant, meaningful and vital. A statement from the IAB study, “When I purchase a new direct to consumer (DTC) brand, I am expressing who I am,” is not a loose declaration. It is conflating human identity and product.

Brands are people, too.

Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Patrick Hanlon, Author of Primal Branding

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