The disconnect between marketers and consumers

TRENDAFRiCA July 22, 2013

There are gaps in marketers’ perceptions of what influences consumer purchase decisions and how consumers engage with brands. This is the finding of research released recently by The Economist.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) conducted two surveys earlier in 2013, sponsored by Lyris, on the effectiveness of different marketing channels. It targeted consumers and secondly, executives from key consumer products industries.

The sheer volumes of data that marketers now have access to and challenges in managing that data has “become a critical factor for success” and data analysis is now seen as the most necessary skill for marketers.

There are 11 key data categories that marketers should be evaluating for their consumer profiles:

  1. Value of transactions.
  2. Frequency of transactions.
  3. Basic demographics.
  4. Web behaviours.
  5. Revealed online and offline preference.
  6. Email behaviour.
  7. Social behaviour.
  8. Economic and cultural characteristics.
  9. Preferences shared with companies.
  10. Location information.
  11. Mobile internet activity.


These are the key findings for marketers:

  • Understanding and capturing customer data is a challenge: 65%-81% of executives rated all 11 data categories as very important and 37% said “data analysis to extract predictive findings from ‘Big Data’” is the top skill that marketers today need to have – up from 17% five years ago. And 45% of executives view marketers’ limited competency in data analysis as a major obstacle to implementing more effective strategies. The two other categories that marketers need to work on are – improving budgets for digital marketing and database management.
  • Consumers say they most prefer email for both initial product research and post-sale follow-up: while marketers are busy expanding social media, blogs and mobile marketing efforts, email still “holds more sway in the purchasing process” according to EIU. 37% of consumers prefer email, followed by printed catalogues (35%) and personal referrals (33%).  And 52% of consumers also prefer email as a channel for post-purchase follow-up. One in five consumers indicates that they prefer social media sites and blogs to make purchase assessments or decisions.
  • While marketers are focused on personalising messages, consumers see them as superficial and are becoming jaded: 63% of consumers say they have become numbed to personalised marketing messages as they are now so common and in fact 33% are annoyed by it because they see it as superficial. There is clearly a disconnect here, as personalisation is the second most popular marketing strategy!
  • Although marketers understand consumers’ need for product information, they underestimate consumers’ reliance on new product referrals: 77% of consumers prefer company channels to researching purchases online to compare product prices and features and rate independent channels higher for peer reviews. Marketers attribute more importance than consumers to reliability and reputation, and peer reviews, than consumers currently do. Consumers rank new product referrals above all else.
  • Consumers are put off by superficial personalisation, but they appreciate customised product recommendations: one in five consumers say customised offers are more likely to meet their needs than mass marketing offers. 40% of marketing executives are now choosing customisation.
  • Marketing executives underestimate consumer concerns about privacy: only 21% of consumers are “very concerned” about the privacy of their information in vendor email exchanges, and 39% are concerned about cookies tracking them when they visit company websites. 33% of consumers are “very concerned” about the privacy of their information being shared with third parties.
  • Ways of engaging and influencing consumers vary by industry: the travel, automotive and entertainment industries are investing in data to increase customised promotions. The motor industry prioritises deep analysis of consumer data and spend on corporate websites. The clothing industry, however, spends more than other industries on branded social media pages – even though clothing consumers are least likely to say they prefer to engage with brands through those channels.


Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)


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