- A gap remains between brands' performance and consumer expectations, despite brands investing more in new technology and solutions to better engage with consumers, according to findings of a new study. "The Great Divide: Connecting Brands to the Real Needs of Today’s Consumers" was released by Alliance Data's card services business.
- Consumers rated simplicity as one of their top needs, but half said brands are not meeting their needs in this area. Eighty-four percent said clear content is important, but only 49% think brands do a good job of delivering it. Control over how brands communicate was the biggest unmet consumer need, and 52% of consumers said they are more likely to pay attention to the content they receive when they can control the frequency of emails and types of content they receive.
- Nearly all marketers (98%) said personalization is an "important" or "very important" need, but consumers rated all but two personalization-related needs as unimportant. Consumers were unimpressed with how brands use past purchases and browsing history to inform content and make recommendations, and expect communications to be relevant to their needs at a given time.
Research continues to highlight the disconnect between brands' efforts to connect with consumers in a meaningful way, and how their efforts actually land with consumers. The Alliance Data report sheds light on the areas where brands are falling short with consumers and could help them refocus their strategies to better meet consumer needs.
Marketers often misjudge consumer needs as they struggle to keep up with consumers evolving needs and expectations. The report revealed that consumers gave 31 needs an average importance score from 28% to 88%, while marketers gave each need an average importance score of 92%. Missing the mark on understanding consumer needs could be costing brands, as they waste time and resources on areas that consumers don’t consider important and neglect more important areas.
The finding that consumers have high expectations for relevant, meaningful content from brands — content that brands aren’t delivering — aligns with other research. A recent report by Havas revealed that 90% of consumers expect brands to deliver content, but they think 58% of content from brands is irrelevant. Furthermore, consumers surveyed said 77% of brands could disappear and no one would care.
While marketers are still looking to offer personalized experiences, the Alliance study shows that consumers want personalization on their specific terms. Forty percent of consumers said messages only sometimes feel personal, according to research by Periscope by McKinsey. It’s also noteworthy that consumers want more control over branded communications and want messaging to better meet their needs, demonstrating that marketers have room to improve several facets of their relationships with consumers.