NEW YORK, July 22, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today’s abundance of choice has brought about a significant paradigm shift in consumer loyalty. In the past consumers were loyal to brands, today consumers expect, if not, demand that brands be “loyal” to them.

A new research study from global media agency Wavemaker in partnership with BuzzFeed titled “Flipping the Switch on Brand Loyalty” holds significant implications for marketers in how to leverage data to inform insightful audience and communications decisions to retain and grow their customers.

Gone are the days of simply touting product attributes. Today’s brand narrative must transcend the product and reflect what matters to consumers. It’s no longer simply about how the product performs, but rather how the product fits, and in many ways, enhances their lives. Consumers are now asking -- does the brand include me, love me, and will it evolve over time to meet my needs?

“The study illuminates a critical and often misunderstood part of the purchase journey that we’ve been studying at Wavemaker,” shared Karima Zmerli, Chief Data Science Officer. “The Priming Stage, also known as everyday life, is where consumers are formulating their opinion of brands or ‘biases’ and identifying those which best reflect their values. Layer on platforms like Amazon acting as filters or curators, and it’s grown more difficult for marketers to impact and convert at point of purchase.”

This new loyalty paradigm is reflected in how today’s consumers make purchase decisions. Wavemaker and BuzzFeed spoke to over 3,000 US consumers to gain a broader view of the consumer purchase journey across seven categories looking at buying behavior, platform usage and shopping sentiment.

The key findings:

Polyamory is the new normal – most consumers are loyal to a consideration set of brands
Brand choice is rarely exclusive; consumers most often select from a small set of brands.

  • 72% consider 2-4 brands when making a purchase
  • 86% are open to switching brands when making a purchase
  • 22% of consumers start from scratch every time they make a purchase

Consumers expect brands to reflect who they are
Consumers no longer look to brands for direction and authority but rather they expect brands to cater to them; they want to know that a brand serves the brand of me. This is specifically true among the younger segments.

  • 42% are most likely to stick with a brand if people like them think highly of it
  • 39% are most likely to stick with a brand that gives back
  • 38% are most likely to stick with a brand that is socially responsible

Consumers look to digital platforms to curate relevant experiences
The rise in digital has given consumers the ability to filter down to only the types of products / brands they want to see and consider; yet their need for simplicity has given rise to a heightened expectation of relevancy.

  • 90% feel they can be more choosey because there are more brands available
  • 71% like it when online retailers (like Amazon) curate what they should buy
  • 61% often purchase a brand Amazon recommends instead of one they’ve purchased before and/or planned to purchase

“Brand loyalty has dramatically shifted with more choices than ever and purchase decisions being weighed by new factors,” said Ashmeed Ali, Senior Director of Research at BuzzFeed. “Today brands must treat all audiences as if they are first-time buyers and acknowledge the increasing demand for brands to remain continuously relevant as they face the expectations from consumers to be more personalized and customized than ever before. At BuzzFeed we leverage a deep understanding of our audience to produce hyper-relevant content at scale, and this emphasis on remaining relevant should be a priority for all brands in an increasingly cluttered marketplace.”

Implications for marketers

The study unearths a new imperative for marketers to more deeply understand their audiences or risk being filtered out: what drives their brand bias, what attributes are most important, what actions were taken along their journey, which touch points impact conversion?

“Ultimately, it’s about changing the way we think about audiences -- quality over quantity,” Zmerli added. “It’s no longer about only prioritizing the ‘where’ but rather, prioritizing the ‘who’ based on how consumers actually behave. By pinpointing specific behavior, marketers gain richer insights at differing points of view to scale personalization and build lasting impressions along the path to purchase.”

Below are simple practices that marketers can adopt to drive better outcomes and ensure healthy growth of consumers.

  • Continuously recruit and re-recruit, identifying the best audience opportunities on an ongoing vs. annual planning cadence
  • Use data in a thoughtful way to find audiences that are most likely to convert and in the channels they best respond in with messages that will resonate
  • Drive deeper synergy between media and message, seeking opportunities to create more personalized connections and value-based experiences at every stage of the purchase journey
  • Develop personalized post-purchase communication strategies to improve bias at next opportunity

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About Wavemaker
Wavemaker is a new kind of global agency delivering transformative solutions through media, content and technology for some of the world’s biggest brands. We have an unrivalled collection of purchase journey data, over 500.000 journeys across 40 markets and 80 categories, and deploy our purchase journey expertise to spot opportunities and problems at every stage of the customer cycle, and turn both into growth. Our 8,600 Wavemakers in 90 countries are diverse, integrated and leading-edge, from trading specialists to data scientists, ecomms experts to award-winning content creators. Our mission is ‘Let’s make the Future’ – at a time when market and customer behaviour is disrupted 24/7, we never stop evolving to help clients succeed. We are a part of GroupM, WPP’s global media investment management company. For more, see

About Buzzfeed
BuzzFeed is the world’s leading tech-powered media company, with a cross-platform news and entertainment network that reaches hundreds of millions of people globally. The company produces articles, lists, quizzes, videos, original series; lifestyle content through BuzzFeed Media Brands including Tasty, the world’s largest social food network; original productions across broadcast, cable, SVOD, film and digital platforms for BuzzFeed Studios; original reporting and investigative journalism through BuzzFeed News; and BuzzFeed Commerce, which develops social commerce products and experiences, as well as licensing and other strategic partnerships.

Contact information:
Bianca Schemankewitz