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P2PI-Factors-Most-Affect-Shoppers-Image-of-Brands-Feb2014A recently-released study [pdf] released by the Path to Purchase Institute (P2PI) in collaboration with CROSSMARK and Marketing Werks touts the value of experiential marketing by way of some interesting survey findings. Consumers were asked to rate the relative importance of 5 factors affecting their image of a brand: word-of-mouth; personalized offers and messages; ads; package/logo design; and personal experience.

Personal experience was far and away the leading choice, with 64% of shoppers saying it was their most important factor affecting their image of a brand.

Beyond personal experience the factors were bunched more tightly. Interestingly, one factor that doesn’t make its way into too much research seems to be recognized by shoppers: that is package and logo design, which actually picked up the second-highest proportion of “most important” votes from respondents – at 15%. That was more than for word-of-mouth (9%) and personalized offers and messages (8%).

Tempering that result: word-of-mouth (34%) and personalization (24%) both were rated the second-most important factor by more respondents than package design (16%). In other words (excuse the pun), word-of-mouth was rated most important or second-most important by more shoppers than package design.

Even so, the results are a reminder that the visual and tactile experience is important to shoppers. In fact, a study released last year from MeadVestCo found that when it comes to overall product satisfaction, packaging matters to almost as many consumers as the brand itself.

What has the least influence on shoppers’ brand image, per the P2PI study? Advertising – although the study authors note that “consumers often are reluctant to self-state that advertising influences them.” Nielsen has also discovered that consumers find word-of-mouth more influential than advertising, although there appears to be a generational divide on that end in the US.

Here are some more interesting findings from the P2PI study, which also surveyed a host of CPG marketers:

  • 80% of shoppers strongly agree (40%) or agree (40%) that they like brands that do more to interact with them than brands that just advertise products;
  • 88% strongly agree (40%) or agree (48%) that if they enjoy the experience of a product/service away from where they can buy it, they usually remember to put it on their shopping list.
  • After having a positive experience with a brand, 91% of respondents are very (69%) or somewhat (22%) likely to tell a friend or family member, while 65% are at least somewhat likely to like the brand on Facebook;
  • 92% of CPG execs rated personalized marketing as being somewhat or very important to their brand activation plans over the next 2-3 years, with 77% feeling that way about hyper-local marketing and 73% about experiential marketing; and
  • Lack of clear ROI (54%) is the primary challenge for experiential marketing programs and hyper-local marketing programs (63%), while internal resources (54%) are the top challenge for hyper-local marketing programs.

About the Data: The study described its methodology as follows:

“In October 2013, 1,500 consumers completed an online national survey to gauge how their social media habits intersect with their shopping behavior… The consumers were sourced from an independent sample provider.

Respondents were 59% female and 82% Caucasian; 61% reported having ‘all or most’ of the grocery shopping responsibilities for their households while another 29% share at least half; 49% live in the suburbs, 37% live in the South, and more than half were aged 35-64.

That same month, several hundred CPG marketing executives (compiled from Path to Purchase Institute member lists) were asked to complete an online survey that asked their opinion of various marketing techniques… The survey used the following definitions:

Hyper-local marketing: Targeting consumers in a well-defined, community scale area through a range of localized out-of-store and in-store tactics to intensify relevance.

Personalized marketing: Tailoring messages or offers to individual consumers through
digital media to drive greater conversion rates versus generic approaches.

Experiential marketing: Providing consumers with an interactive experience with a brand for deeper engagement and a stronger connection with that brand.

Respondents were mostly from companies with at least $1 billion in annual sales (69%); work in the packaged food and beverage industry (64%); work primarily in sales/merchandising (62%); and held titles as managers (44%), vice presidents (27%) and directors (25%).”

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