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Consumer tech brands fail to win customer loyalty

Posted by Lorraine Jenkins on 26th July 2012

Our new study reveals that consumer technology markets are being redefined by a new set of consumer buying behaviours, with the pre-shopping experience evolving almost as fast as the technology itself.

Consumer electronics has long been an engine of product innovation and product growth, but our new study into consumer buying trends ‘Why Buy? What influences consumer tech purchases?’ suggests that, in spite of the massive influence they continue to have on our daily lives, consumer tech products are in danger of becoming commodity items.  An overwhelming 81% said price is the biggest factor determining technology purchase decisions, with brand loyalty cited by just 12%.

The research-based report reveals a complex ecosystem of buying power and influence for consumer tech products.  And it suggests that – with some notable exceptions – consumer tech brands are lagging behind changing consumer behaviours and failing to deliver product and PR strategies that drive long-term customer loyalty and market share.

While 96% of people in our study have bought a personal or household technology product, their purchase behaviour varies significantly according to age, gender and marital status.  This is especially true of their media choices, with a multitude of real-life influences now coming into play and challenging the ascendancy of specialist print and online expert reviews.

Even more challenging for marketers, the importance, or degree of influence exerted by each of these channels can vary significantly according to demographic factors.  Marketers must join in with a multi-way conversation in a world where brand loyalty is a precious commodity that has to be earned, not paid for.

This might seem daunting, but in fact it presents an amazing opportunity for brands to reach their audience where they are looking for information about technology products – and that usually means online.  Our research also highlights some essential insights that can help consumer tech marketers build influence and capture a bigger share of a rapidly-growing market that shows no signs of slowing down – so long as brands continue to innovate and provide products that enrich people’s lives.

Real-life benefits are at least as important as high-tech specs

As our study makes clear, people buy technology because it makes their lives better. What you – and others – say about your product is at least as important as how good the product is.  The longest tech spec in the world is not going to challenge the ascendancy of Apple – but a new way of interacting with your smartphone or TV just might.

Pre-shopping before buying has become a huge part of buyer behaviour

Consumer technology buyers today find and share their own information about products, in their own way, on their own time.  Its up to brands to join the conversation at the point where decisions are being made and to provide the information that buyers are looking for  in the places they are looking for it

Print is dead, long live online reviews

OK so we exaggerated!  In the opinion of the EML Wildfire consumer tech team, there will be a place on the newsstands for specialist lifestyle magazines for a long while yet. But brands who focus their PR strategies on these titles alone will lose out.

And finally… never, ever stop talking to your customers

In an age where word of mouth is a digitally archived medium, brands have an incredible opportunity to move their products from commodity status by engaging with their customers with powerful messages that show how their product will enrich their lives.

Lorraine Jenkins

Lorraine is always available to share her decades of technology PR experience with the team. As well as putting her unparalleled research and market positioning skills to use and regularly bombarding the team with industry news and trends, Lorraine is always ready to roll up her sleeves and produce hard hitting research questions or industry whitepapers to position clients as market leaders.