Misreading Their Minds

Every so often a piece of research comes along that asks the same questions of consumers and marketers and then compares the answers.  It’s instructive to see the differences in how the folks who are responsible for knowing how their consumers see the world vs. how those consumers themselves see it.  The latest example of this comes from the folks at Spong, and their 2015 Brand Reputation Study.  Their release on the information begins with this:

An organization’s brand is one of its most valuable assets. Greatly influenced by the reputation of the organization, the strength and weaknesses of a brand can have a direct impact on every aspect of the business, including the bottom line. But when it comes to evaluating what is most important or least important about a brand, a new brand reputation study from Spong indicates that marketers may not really understand what consumers care about and think.

Hmm.  That doesn’t sound particularly good, but what does it mean in real terms?  First and foremost, it turns out that marketers overestimate how often consumers talk about brands.  Marketers seem to think that consumers chat about what companies are doing a poor job, with 88% of marketers saying they think consumers do so daily or weekly.  The reality is that fewer than a third (31%) do so.  While a little paranoia is a good thing, I suspect this thinking leads into another data point the survey found.

Marketers underrate editorial and overrate social as a source of information, with 14% of consumers calling editorial a top source of accurate brand information.  Only 6% of marketers think consumers see it that way.  Conversely, we’re smarter than most marketers are about the accuracy of social media.  27% of marketers think consumers use it as an accurate source of brand information; the real number is less than half that (13%).

Consumers also put more importance on whether a brand is local far more often than marketers think consumers do. 30% of shoppers said they would always or most of the time choose local over national brands, all things being equal while only 12% of marketers would expect that sentiment. I guess the point is that once again, those of us who are supposed to have our finger on our customers’ pulses have missed the boat. As they summed up:

The research paints a picture that should serve as a wake-up call for marketers, whose stock in trade is understanding what triggers consumer behavior. As the research reveals, marketers over-valued a few key customer concerns at the expense of the wide range of other issues affecting their decision-making.

I agree wth that.  You?

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Filed under Huh?, Reality checks

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