Marketers face an ever growing challenge in attracting the attention of consumers according to new research from the Direct Marketing Association.
A combination of new technology, the blurring of boundaries between work and personal space, an increase in consumers describing themselves as ‘hectic’ and consumer empowerment means that marketers need to work even harder to stand out and get their messages heard.
Published today, the DMA Participation Media Report, sponsored by Experian, explores the consumer’s actual experience of direct marketing using an innovative diary approach.
The report shows that consumers are actively getting involved in the marketing process in an attempt to filter out the information that they need marking a shift from “push” to “pull” marketing.
This increased consumer empowerment is clear when gathering information before making a purchase – the research shows that the majority of consumers prefer to be in control of how and when they gather information, rating talking to the retailer and word of mouth as being the preferred method.
Such empowerment is also evident with the report highlighting decreasing levels of loyalty. The level of positive responses from past customers had decreased from 43% to 34%, showing that consumers are more willing to switch suppliers.
Consumers are also taking more control of who can contact them. The research illustrated a reluctance on the part of consumers to share their personal information with companies which is no doubt in light of heightened awareness of identity fraud and high profile incidences of companies and government departments losing personal data.
A further contributing factor is that most people who took part in the research feel overwhelmed by the number of marketing communications that they are receiving.
However, the research also shows a significant increase in consumers who are happy to pick and choose how they get information about companies and their products and services.
Victoria Bytel, head of research at the DMA, says: “As consumers are increasingly taking control of how and when they access marketing communications, marketers need to avoid becoming wallpaper and achieve stand out through gaining heightened insight of their target audience and developing new stimuli and stand out accordingly.
“What is clear from the research is that each medium has a different role to play in the marketing mix whether individually or together as part of an integrated campaign. It’s all about targeting the right audience at the right time – a basic tenet of direct marketing.”
Unsurprisingly the report shows that growth in internet access has increased across all demographics as confidence in the medium grows and access costs decrease – including an increase in the number of people accessing internet services at work.
This may be one of the factors that lies behind findings showing that the majority of purchases made in response to email marketing were at work.
For the first time since the research began, the internet has overtaken mail order for purchasing goods.
This is another reflection of the increase in the number of consumers describing themselves as ‘hectic’, with timesaving and flexibility cited as the main benefits of using direct marketing as a way of purchasing goods.
However, catalogues remain an important reference tool for consumers with many being used alongside the internet as a means of purchasing goods.
The more traditional direct marketing channels of direct mail, door drops and inserts were viewed more positively by consumers than in the research in 2005.
Door drops were considered to be the most interesting of all communications recorded in the diary and scored highly with regards to convenience and provision of information while direct mail saw a 10% increase in positive views of the medium on 2005.
Interactive TV, field marketing and email marketing form the top three direct media in generating a purchase while television and radio ads, customer magazines and inserts lead the field in generating retail traffic.
Telephone calls, interactive TV and mobile messaging are most likely to result in respondents seeking further information.
The research also highlights the difference in consumers’ perceived use of direct marketing with reality.
On the whole, actions taken in response to receiving direct communications (as recorded in the diaries) are more positive in reality than perception.
This is particularly true of email (17.6% perceived positive response versus 33% actual positive response) and direct mail (22.7% perceived positive response versus 44.4% actual positive response).
Byte added, “It is vital that marketers reduce wastage and ensure consumers are on the receiving end of well thought-through, targeted and relevant communications."
Sponsors of this report, Experian, are hosting a webinar with the DMA to advise on combating marketing white noise. You can find the event details here: www.experianim.com/marketingrelevancewebinar
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