Report: Three in four Aussie consumers believe brands lie in marketing comms

New customer loyalty survey finds the majority of consumers lack trust in brand communications and don't feel they are rewarded for their loyalty

Three in four Australian consumers believe brands are lying in their marketing communications and more than half are not convinced they’re being rewarded for their loyalty, a new survey has found.

Research into the state of customer loyalty and engagement across more than 2500 Australians commissioned earlier this year by customer lifecycle management agency, Customology, found 77 per cent of us believe new customers receive better incentives than loyal customers, while 55 per cent don’t believe they are rewarded for their loyalty at all. In addition, 63 per cent of consumers want to be rewarded for their referrals, and 82 per cent would be tempted by a competitor.

On a slightly more positive note, 64 per cent of respondents stated they are loyal to a brand that doesn’t have a loyalty program.

There were more stark figures to come around customer communications. Customology found 74 per cent of consumers believe brands lie in their marketing communications, and 61 per cent see communications as “too pushy”. More than half see remarketing communications as too frequent, and 48 per cent stated being emailed too often. Across respondents, 61 per cent said they are receiving more than 10 emails per week and 36 per cent said emails were over 20 per week.  

Yet 51 per cent also said they didn’t receive any communication at all after their first purchase even after sharing contact details. What’s more, 45 per cent believe brands are not targeting them in a relevant way, and 57 per cent said they’re rarely or never thanked. In contrast, 91 per cent said they are regularly asked for some form of feedback.

As a result, 41 per cent reported hardly, if ever, reading communications and 49 per cent said communications rarely influenced a purchase. Further, one in 10 consumers believe online reviews are genuine.

Creating the right loyalty loop

Customology CEO, Mark James, said the problem was too many brands continue to treat acquired customers like “transactions and a marketing database”.

“Brands are missing out on significant opportunities by alienating their most profitable customers. It costs a lot more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. It’s ludicrous that brands today are still offering new customers a better deal,” he said.  

“Customers are feeling lied to and over marketed to. Brands are not sending authentic messages to their customers which prevents them from activating the path to re-purchase. “The irony is that their most profitable customer is a returning customer.”  

James said his team were also surprised at the level of disbelief many consumers had in the brands communicating with them.  

“Customers feel that when brands do speak to them, it's a half truth. We were really surprised to hear just how vocal these customers were about how brands engage with them,” he said.  

The trust issues showed through other aspects of the research. For example, 53 per cent of respondents said they didn’t trust brand with their contact information.  

James said the first step to building authenticity is with that first communication. Every interaction thereafter should build and be oriented to the customer. He also advised businesses to look at the best channels - not just the cheapest - to continue engagement, retention and influence behaviour.  

“The most important aspect of communication is to make all the messages relevant and tailored to the customer, and not to bombard them,” James said. “There are so many opportunities to continue the conversation; but it has to be an authentic message, sent at the right time and via the right channel.”  

At a wider level, Customology advises a circular loop with customers to encourage repurchasing and connection that incorporates recognition, research, recommendations, rewards, reminders, re-engagement and reactivations.  

“Smart competitors are looking for every opportunity to acquire more customers. Brands with bad customer retention strategies are most at risk,” James added. “Talking ‘to’ customers, not ‘at’ them like transactions is the key to building long-term success and trust between the customer and the brand.”

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