In recent years many companies have been working to strengthen their brand in an effort to garner repeat custom. A recent report by Feefo, reveals that the companies that have done so in an authentic way should reap the rewards of that strategy. The report found that almost three-quarters of all buyers consider brand values before purchasing.

Feefo’s Marketing Director, Keith Povey, says: “It’s been an incredibly volatile 12 months for businesses, which has seen a seismic shift in consumer behaviour, some aspects of which will have a long-lasting effect on how buyers think, act and spend. That said, our research shows that for those businesses that are agile and realign their marketing strategies, there are many opportunities to improve brand awareness, perception and loyalty. Those that respond and act with the medium to long term in mind will see greater returns over the next few years than those that see this period as nothing more than a dip, due to external circumstances.”

The brand values that are valued

But what are the values that brands should promote to encourage a legion of loyal customers? The report went on to demonstrate that 61% spend more money with socially responsible brands that they respect above others. Plus, 57% of those asked believe that companies should be socially and environmentally responsible. Other significant factors that consumers value in a brand are:

  • Passionate about the products or services they sell (34%)
  • Sustainability ethics (33%)
  • Transparency (33%)

However, interestingly, only 12% of consumers say that they will have a more positive view of a brand if it is promoted by a celebrity influencer that they like. Given the huge surge in social media and influencer marketing in the last five years, it would appear that brands need to find another, authentic way to promote these values. Jonathan Emmins of Amplify explores why.

“It’s no surprise that the power of celebrity and influencer marketing has waned. Celebrity still has a role to play in marketing, in much the same way as bombarding audiences with advertising does. Both celebrities and advertising can help put a brand on the map and guarantee awareness. But we can’t automatically assume that being on the radar in this way translates into influence, affinity or propensity to purchase.

“The mask has dropped on influencers as consumers are astute and can see whether the relationship between influencer and brand is authentic, deep and adds value to their lives. For this reason, many brands are stepping away of using celebrity and instead moving towards campaigns that work with real and more relatable talent; people who share the brand’s values, passions or interests. This gives brands authenticity and permission to play in the focus area, audience or sector. Plus, there’s an added benefit here: collaborations and co-creation campaigns with emerging talent don’t carry the same hefty price tag as top-tier celebrity advertising. This helps brands create a larger volume of more interesting, engaging and entertaining content which can be targeted at pockets of audience, rather than a one-size-fits-all strategy. Lots of ‘small’ quickly ladders up to a whole lot of big.”

Why brands need to strengthen their brand values

Povey continues: “The report clearly highlights the need, and opportunity, for brands to invest more in defining who they are, what they believe in and how they operate. Effectively communicating this demonstrates how, by giving business to the brand, the customers will be supporting a transparent, trustworthy and socially responsible business. In other words, it is imperative to invest in creating a brand with a purpose.”

And, while it is undoubtedly great that consumers benefit from a larger market offering more choice and a range of price points, it is highly beneficial to small businesses who can finally differentiate themselves through brand values from other bigger conglomerates. A good way to do this, says Damien Fisher of Fishtank Agency is through the customer’s online experience.

“The digital experience is scrutinised more than ever before, and depending on the sector, various touchpoints require consideration.

“Graphic real-estate and call-to-action touchpoints are crucial to the customer journey and ultimately deliver on results. The product is good, and the price point is enticing — so what will get the consumer over the line?

“When selling online, everyone is time-sensitive and with cyber-crime at an all-time high, visible trust recognition indicators such as Feefo are key validators to consumer perception and loyalty. Having chatbots visible 24/7 to answer any consumer queries without moving from page to page, as well as trigger points such as email/sales numbers, helps deliver buyer confidence as it suggests the online retailer is happy to take calls and values customer satisfaction.”

Marketing a brand through reviews

In addition to the digital experience, the report also found that as we all spend more and more time on social media with mass exposure to reviews, word-of-mouth has never been stronger. Given that bad reviews, and good, can have a significant impact on sales, companies need to ensure that their marketing is backed up with good governance and results. For, more than a quarter (26%) of consumers still say that if their favourite brand got into an ethical scandal they would stop buying from the company altogether. In addition, less than half (48%) would give brands another chance if the businesses made themselves accountable for their actions.

Feefo’s Marketing Director summarises the need to have brand values that are backed up with customer satisfaction.

“Today, it’s crucial that brands define their purpose and communicate it effectively to their customers. Companies need to demonstrate that by doing business with them, their customers will be supporting a transparent, trustworthy and socially responsible brand. Our research emphasises the need for businesses to create two-way conversations with their customers to better understand what they care about.”

Doing so will help ensure repeat business, which is key to building a successful and sustainable business.