We live in a fast-changing world. Which means the longer you’ve held an opinion, the greater the chances your views may have fallen behind the times.
The latest fast.MAP Marketing Gap study (the 9th annual edition) shows once again how disconnected some marketers’ views are from those of their customers. Let’s take a look at some of the findings:
Overall, marketers expect around twice as many people to be “happy to receive” marketing communications than consumers claim. Across the 29 industries examined, the most welcomed sector for email marketing amongst consumers is ‘competitions’, appreciated by 32% of consumers. The least welcome are mortgages (6%) and loans/credit cards (7%), the appeal of which was over-estimated by marketers by more than a factor of two (at 15% and 18% respectively).
In fact, 58% of consumers now state they would prefer not to be contacted at all, through any channel, by companies they have no relationship with. Marketers again underestimate the extent of consumer rejection by almost 25%, believing that only 44% of consumers would feel this way.
No surprise that all forms of telephony marketing (landline/mobiles calls and SMS) are uniformly disliked, being welcomed by no more than 4% of consumers in any category. Yet marketers still over-estimate consumer willingness for telephony by between 100% and 400%. Two people in three would opt-out of text messaging marketing completely if there were a “Text Preference Service” that operates like the existing Telephone Preference Service,
Almost half (45%) of consumers now claim to hang up straight away when they receive a marketing or sales call, that’s up from 36% in 2011. Almost 1 in 10 (the mischievous 9%) will leave the phone off the hook to tie up the call centre line!
Around a third (32%) of consumers will open direct mail from any company (down from 38% in 2011), but marketers under-estimate this at 24%. It seems the general public is still more likely to open direct mail than the industry believes. It’s not all good news though; almost one in four consumers (23%) say they now don’t open any direct mail, up from 13% in 2011.
Interestingly, marketers also routinely overestimate the value of creativity in some channels. For direct mail materials, a third of marketers (33%) think interesting packaging will ensure it gets opened, but only 18% of consumers agree. Similarly one in four marketers (25%) think design can increase open rates, but only 9% of consumers share this sentiment. An attractive envelope can motivate 10% of consumers to open a direct mail pack, but that is well short of the 18% estimated by marketers.
Many businesspeople are terrified of negative consumer reviews, with marketers estimating that 23% of people share negative experiences through review sites. But the reality is that only a tiny minority (4%) of consumers behave this way.
With this in mind, surely marketers must have a clear grasp on the channels consumers most want to use when dealing with a customers services team? Again, the opinions of marketers seem well wide of the mark, with 21% thinking people would most prefer to use the phone, while in fact 32% of consumers would now most prefer to use email. Twitter, Facebook and LiveChats are also less likely to be used by consumers seeking customer service assistance than marketers believe:
But, thankfully, everyone’s sharing content online these days. Except they’re not. More than half of all consumer (54%) say they don’t share any content online, but marketers estimate this amount at just 24%. And amongst those who do share content, most do so to entertain or make others aware, quite different and more altruistic motivations than those cited by marketers:
At least we know which devices consumers use these days. Most people have a tablet and smartphone, right? Nope! The laptop and desktop computer remain by far the most popular tools for internet access, underestimated by marketers by 45% and 30% respectively . Now we know why those fancy tablet and smartphone apps alone were not enough to hit last quarter;’s sales target.
How much must the face value of a coupon be before it will be redeemed. Marketers, it seems, have more expensive tastes than the average consumer. 81% of consumers will happily redeem a 50p (UK pence) coupon, up from 74% last year. But only 23% of marketers feel that a 50p coupon is sufficient to encourage redemption. Sometimes, it doesn’t take a huge reward to incentivise buying behaviour:
And while we’re on the topic of coupon discounts, only 20% of consumers claim to have used Groupon in the last year, well short of the 50% estimated by marketers. Similarly, newspaper collectible offers like The Sun Holidays and Daily Mirror LEGO are only used by 7% of consumers, against a 21% prediction by marketers. Most consumers, it would seem, simply cannot be bothered with collecting tokens any more.
Consumers love price offers, far more than most marketers realise or are prepared to admit. A staggering 85% of consumers would be happy to switch brand if an alternative brand offered a ‘Buy One Get One Free (BOGOF) deal, but only 42% of marketers believe this could happen. Even a 10% price advantage would be enough to switch brands for 68% of shoppers, far more than the 24% claimed by marketing professionals.
A quarter of marketers believe that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is unimportant, but only 7% of consumer agree, with the majority (60%) saying they feel it is very or quite important. Proof, if it were needed, that consumers expect companies to do the right thing and be held to account if their actions don’t benefit society as a whole.
I’ve shared a lot of data in this blog post. The headline findings though are consistent: many consumer attitudes are changing very rapidly and marketers are often out of tune with real world consumers.
The only way to find out if your long-held opinions may have passed their expiry date is to stay closely connected to your customers.
Don’t stick your head in the sand and fall into the trap of believing accepted wisdom
Don’t lose sight of the realities of the modern world; some things change quickly, others take a little longer to become mainstream
Get out and speak with your customers, live in their shoes, see how they live their lives.
The opinion gap between consumers and marketers is as big as ever. What will you do, right now, to close the gap in your organisation?