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What Retail Brands Should Know About the Fashion Consumer in 2019

In the fashion industry, it’s all about being ‘on trend’. But what that means is changing.

Today’s fashion consumers are finding, sharing, buying and researching brands in completely new ways.

Our research identifies 13% of internet users as fashionistas, meaning they have a strong interest in fashion, have purchased clothes in the last month and like to keep up with the latest fashions.

For retail brands targeting this complex group, reaching them means developing a deep understanding of everything from what they do, to how and why they do it. Here’s what our latest research says.

Fashion lovers are keen to be brand advocates.

Proof points:

  • 85% say expressing themselves is an important reason to use the internet.
  • They’re 1.4 times more likely to want to stand out in a crowd.

As a group, fashionistas are image-focused.

They’re outspoken and keen to express themselves and their views. Since they’re also not afraid of standing out in a crowd, they’re perfect recruits for brands looking to onboard brand advocates.

So what would entice this group to shout about a brand on their ever-important social media feeds?

Above all else, fashionistas can be encouraged to advocate a brand simply out of love for the brand, and feeling like they’re a part of its journey.

Offer them transparency into your story and build personal relationships based on insider knowledge and exclusive access, and you should have eager, switched-on brand advocates.

Target female fashionistas – but don’t forget their male counterparts.

Proof point:

  • 67% of fashionistas are female, 33% are male.

When you hear the phrases “fashionista” or “fashion fan”, male consumers may not instantly come to mind. But it would be a huge mistake to leave this audience behind.

Our data shows that a whole third of fashionistas are, in fact, male.

This means any brand looking to squeeze the most out of this audience would do well to include male consumers in their product range, advertising and relationship-building.

Broadcast TV is a crucial channel for brand discovery.

Proof point:

The fashion industry has been accused of being late to adopt new technology and invest in online efforts.

Our research shows that TV ads, seen as a traditional marketing channel, actually score highest among fashion lovers, with half saying it’s their main source for discovering new brands, products or services.

In the same vein, 43% rely on word-of-mouth recommendations, meaning brands would do well to invest in their reputation and fan-building.

However, these “offline” brand discovery channels are closely followed by search engines, online ads and brand websites, underlining the importance of having a wholesome presence to be seen where fashion consumers are.

They love to communicate with brands via social media.

Proof points:

  • Fashionistas are 79% more likely to share a brand’s post on social media.
  • 1 in 5 upload photos/videos to brands’ social pages.

It comes as no surprise that fashion lovers are keen social media users – they spend an average of 3 hours per day on social networks.

But they don’t just spend this time mindlessly scrolling through their feeds; in fact, this audience is highly active on social.

Being 79% more likely to share a brand’s social media posts presents a key opportunity.

By creating optimized content and having a well-developed presence on the platforms that matter, such as fashionistas’ favorites YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, and top-indexing Snapchat, brands can encourage engagement from this group.

But that’s not all; 1 in 5 fashionistas also upload their own photos and/or videos to their favorite brands’ social network.

This means not only can brands with a strong, consumer-centric social presence benefit from this audience’s eagerness for engagement, but also encourage user-generated content that will enrich their feeds.

Social commerce is on the rise.

Proof points:

  • Fashionistas are 49% more likely to use social media to research or discover products to buy.
  • They’re nearly twice as likely to follow brands they’re thinking of buying from.
  • 16-34 fashionistas are 1.7 times more likely to be driven to purchase by ‘buy’ buttons on social.

Social commerce has struggled to take hold in the West, while enjoying rapid success in Asia in particular. But fashionistas are primed and ready to join the social commerce movement.

The insights speak for themselves. Social ‘buy’ buttons, famously difficult to nail down successfully, are attractive to this audience, who are also twice as likely to follow brands on social ahead of buying one of their products.

Being 49% more likely to use social for product discovery and research before making a purchase also presents an opportunity for brands to commercialize their social networks more than they may have done before – and to start experimenting with that ‘buy’ button.

Fashionistas primarily use mobile devices for online commerce.

Proof points:

  • Last month, 73% bought a product via mobile – 23% more than via PC/laptop.
  • 1 in 4 sold a product via mobile, making them 25% more likely to do so.
  • They’re 49% more likely to have used a mobile payment service, at 53%.

For this crowd, their mobile device is extremely important, and they use it for most of their online commerce behaviors.

They’re 50% more likely to use their mobile to make a purchase than their PC or laptop, highlighting a desire to do their shopping on the go.

It naturally follows that they’re more open than most to using mobile payment services to aid their speedy commerce; 53% did so last month.

With this in mind, retail brands looking to target this strong-minded bunch should ensure their mobile experience is on point, and their checkout process is quick and pain-free.

Reaching fashion consumers in 2019.

Fashionistas are always the first with the latest – and their online and brand behaviors are no different.

Our latest research reveals a group who know what they want and how they want it, eager to engage with brands and be part of their story.

This opens up a multitude of opportunities for retail brands to reach fashion consumers in 2019, encouraging meaningful and lasting brand-customer relationships on social media and beyond.

5 Things to Know about Premier League Fans

With the Premier League in full swing, many brands continue to launch campaigns looking to take advantage of the competition’s diverse audience.

Its global reach is significant, with around a fifth of internet users following or watching the games online or on TV.

Although the competition has a broad audience, Premier League fans1 do have their differences. Here are some defining characteristics to know.

1. The female fanbase is bigger than you may think.

It’s often assumed that soccer leagues attract a very male-dominated audience, and that interest among women remains limited. But our data says differently.

Women actually make up just under a third (30%) of the Premier League audience.

This presents an untapped opportunity for brands to reach the sport-minded female.

This female audience is 43% more likely than average to be from the top income quartile and is open and receptive to advertising.

57% say tend to buy the products they see advertised, and over 4 in 10 say they come across new brands via TV ads.

There’s, for example, a promising opportunity for short-haul travel brands and service providers to target female Premier League fans.

2 in 3 say travel and exploring is a strong interest of theirs, and they’re 33% more likely than their male counterparts to take short-haul vacations abroad every few months, giving travel companies a unique chance to reach out to women during gameplay.

2. They value premium products.

Premier League fans are big online shoppers. In the past month, 8 in 10 have bought something online.

They don’t just buy any brand, though. The vast majority (3 in 5) say they tend to purchase the premium version of products whether shopping offline or online, which tallies with their affluent nature.

Designer brands perform particularly strongly with this audience.

They’re about twice as likely to purchase all of the designer brands we track, like Louis Vuitton and Prada.

This is most likely linked to the importance they place on their image and status. 75% say it’s important for them to feel respected by their peers. They also care about their appearances and other people’s perceptions of them, and will buy into the brands that can boost their social standing.

3. They favor the big screen for tuning in.

Sports broadcasters continue to compete for distribution rights, and soccer is one of the most highly sought-after sports worldwide.

But the increased competition from digital services like Amazon Prime is set to change the viewing landscape next season. Earlier this year, we saw Amazon acquire the rights to stream games on their platforms for the 2019/2020 season.

In particular, the likes of Netflix and Amazon have shaken up the TV landscape and changed how content is consumed.

Online TV has taken off in recent years and has become a key part of media portfolios for Premier League fans. Two-thirds watch TV-on-demand on a weekly basis, while 60% choose subscription services like Netflix.

While sports viewing retains its appointment-viewing status, there’s certainly an appeal in watching games live on a big TV screen with peers – something that can’t always be mirrored on another device.

This is evident in our data too: while a third of fans now watch Premier League games online, around half are still doing so on traditional TV sets.

4. Second-screening is a big deal.

The vast majority (92%) of Premier League fans reach for other devices while watching TV, and it’s the smartphone which is the clear favorite here (81%).

Second screens are a huge competitor to advertising brands for the attention of fans.

But while they take fans away from what’s happening on the main screen, they also offer a huge opportunity for engagement as fans search around for information.

The question for advertisers and brands is: how can they reach fans as they move their attention from the main screen to the second one?

Our research shows that interaction on social media is where the opportunity lies.

Most fans use social media (54%) or chat with friends (51%) while the action unfolds, potentially discussing the game or reading other people’s comments and opinions on players or the events as they unfold during the game.

The key challenge for brands is being a subtle part of the conversation, without getting in the way of fans accessing the commentary and content they’re after.

5. They’re early adopters of the esports trend.

In recent years, the explosive popularity of the esports genre has bridged the gap between gaming and traditional sports.

The Premier League itself has launched its first esports competition, partnering with EA Sports to create a tournament where strong performers earn points towards the FIFA eWorld Cup in 2019.

This is set to be a hit among Premier League fans as gaming is already a strong interest for over half of this audience.

A sizeable number of fans are onboard with the esports trend too. In the last month, 28% have watched an esports tournament, putting them 64% ahead of average, and 18% have broadcasted a live stream while playing in the last month.

This is a promising opportunity for marketers to sponsor individual players and influencers, creating more income streams for the players and increasing awareness for the sponsoring brands.

1Premier League fans are defined as those who follow or watch the Premier League on TV or online.

More Consumers than Ever Use Social Media for News Updates

Our latest research reveals the approach of a symbolic “tipping point” in global social media usage.

It’s a milestone that represents a paradigm shift for social media in general.

In 2018, for the first time, our survey shows that internet users log on to social media to stay up-to-date with news as much as they do to stay in touch with friends.

To compare, when we first started asking this question at the end of 2014, staying in touch with friends was 6 percentage-points ahead.

Since 2016, we’ve seen social media’s original purpose of connecting people take more of a backseat, as its role as a source of news content and commentary has come to prominence.

One element underpinning this shift has been the rise of social video, including livestreaming. More users are tuning into these content formats than in 2016, and they’ve helped social media become a go-to place for news.

As personal sharing declines, passive consumption rises.

News is the most important motivation for internet users between the ages of 25-34s and 45-54s to log onto social.

In contrast, 55-64s still see social media as a place to connect with friends first and foremost.

16-24s also value friends over news updates, though both of these are eclipsed by their desire to find entertaining or funny content on social media. Following news might be on the verge of becoming the top social motivation overall, but it’s just one part of a broader picture.

“Purposeful” social media activities have come to the fore in the last couple of years, as personal sharing has become less relevant to internet users.

This is a phenomenon sometimes referred to as “passive networking”. Against this background, social networks are working hard to preserve user engagement – even if it doesn’t involve sharing personal information. 

The growth of “purposeful” activities on social could not have happened without the ascendance of smartphones as the main device for internet access.

Smartphones allow users an anytime, anywhere way of going online. This lends itself to browsing for ephemeral content, whether in the form of funny videos or news updates.

Because 16-24s prefer finding entertainment to news content, this makes them the biggest consumers of social video.

Until recently, this has largely come through consuming bitesize video entertainment. But social platforms are now looking to expand their video offering to include long-form content that can challenge the likes of Netflix and Amazon Video.

This year has seen the launch of Instagram’s IGTV, and the global rollout of Facebook’s Watch. Snap has thrown its hat into the ring too, with a host of original shows planned for the Discover service on the Snapchat app.

Sports benefit from the growth of social video.

Long-form video isn’t unprecedented on social media. There’s a specific type of video that’s made itself at home on social in the past couple of years, and that’s sports.

Citing “watch/follow sports events” as a main reason to use social media has had a significant popularity spike since 2016, increasing by ten percentage points.

The numbers are even more telling when applied to an audience of sports fans. Sports are not universal in the way that general entertainment and retail are, so focusing on internet users with a declared interest helps us uncover the real extent of the trend.

For sports fans, using social media to watch/follow sports events has increased from 16% in 2016 to 41% in 2018.

In the case of sports, we can see up close exactly how social media has moved from sharing-led to consumption-led motivations.

Social media allows fans to exchange their thoughts on the action in real-time. Buying rights to broadcast sports competitions helps social media companies bring more of the sports ecosystem under their control.

This way, social has grown from just providing an arena for real-time commentary into a platform for also watching live broadcasts.

Twitter’s play into sports is a good example of how just much social media has changed. Twitter used to be known predominantly for its brevity, with a limit of 140 characters per tweet. But now, it’s host to full-length matches.

The network has been looking to cement its position as one of the biggest providers of live sports coverage online ever since its first experiments with it during the Wimbledon tennis championships in 2016.

Alongside the deals Twitter has struck up, Facebook and YouTube have been getting in on the act, with Facebook’s deal to broadcast the Premier League in parts of Asia one of the most eye-catching this year.

More and more online behaviors are finding a home on social.

Outside video, more aspects of online behavior are finding a home on social media.

Use of social media to research/find products to buy has grown since 2016, although closing the loop and turning this research behavior into a purchase has proved elusive so far.

Twitter’s experiments with buy buttons ended with their withdrawal, and in our data, “buy buttons” have have not yet gained traction for any social network.

But this may be about to change.

Visual platforms like Snapchat and Instagram are looking to buck the trend. But while both platforms are visual, they’re building social commerce capabilities in different ways.

Instagram’s “shoppable ads” are a type of buy button, but with the benefit of an image-focused interface to help get consumers clicking. For Snapchat, the approach is more about how a phone camera can be used to discover and research products through augmented reality.

Through its partnership with Amazon, Snapchat is currently testing a feature which takes users to a product’s Amazon page when they point their phone camera at it.

Put simply, Instagram’s social commerce is built around interactive images, whereas Snapchat’s comes through interacting with physical surroundings via the camera.

So why does all this matter?

As user growth on social platforms reaches saturation, they’ll be forced to work harder to get revenue from the users they do have. This lets new content types spring up, with the potential for monetization through ads or partnerships.

The social tipping point also brings into focus just how many verticals social is still poised to disrupt, either in competition or partnership.

Social media is no longer a place where internet users go to be social; it’s now a TV set, a shop window, and a source of news, all in one.

Why Word-of-Mouth Marketing is Crucial for a Winning Brand Strategy

Other peoples’ experiences and thoughts about products are an important source of information for many consumers. They can both be more relatable, since they’re written from a user perspective, and more trustworthy, since they represent independent voices.

But reading reviews written for strangers is just one of the many social sources consumers refer to along their path to purchase.

Public-facing reviews are matched by word-of-mouth recommendations that are often invisible to brands, since they take place in person, or through ‘dark social’ channels.

Unlike public product reviews, word-of-mouth recommendations come from sources familiar to us already, i.e. friends and family. What they lack in ‘authority’, compared to a professional reviewers, they make up for in trustworthiness.

Word of mouth has the rare trait of being able to increase brand loyalty; a study from the Wharton School of Business found that referred customers are between 16% to 24% more loyal on average.

Our data reveals that WOM is the fourth most-cited source for brand discovery among global internet users, behind search engines and ads seen on online or on TV. While taking pride in sharing their expertise seems to be important for many people who leave reviews, word of mouth tends to be more related to sharing tailored knowledge and experience to those who will really make use of it.

Despite the increasing influence of mobile and social media, face-to-face communication still seems to hold incredible value for brand discovery and advocacy. But what place does word of mouth (WOM) have in today’s purchase journey, where offline sources compete and overlap with online, and who are the people that respond to it the most?

The importance of word of mouth.

WOM recommendations are a crucial marketing tool for any brand.

This is mainly because since they come from sources familiar to us already, i.e. friends and family, and due to the ‘buzz’ user-generated content can induce, they’re more trustworthy and valuable.

Our data reveals that WOM is the third most-cited source for brand discovery among global internet users, behind search engines and ads seen on TV.

Tellingly, WOM recommendations (31%) are more important at this stage than both recommendations/comments on social media (25%) and consumer review sites (22%).

Where does word of mouth hold most sway?

WOM continues to play an important role across all our tracked markets, but privacy concerns and diminishing brand trust has made it especially relevant in some specific regions.

Currently, WOM is particularly important in North America (41%, Index 1.32) and Latin America, where around 4 in 10 cite it as a key source of product discovery (38%, Index 1.21). This could reflect particular personal privacy worries in these regions, leading consumers to look for more traditional and trustworthy forms of brand advocacy. These are also markets where product reviews play a key role in brand discovery.

The importance of reviews and recommendations – peer-to-peer sources – extends beyond the consumer sector, reflecting the social/cultural aspect.

WOM is also a marketing tactic that is viewed favorably by business leaders in America. U.S. business decision-makers cite ‘conversations with people from the company on a social network’ as the second most influential source for B2B purchases, and 62% of marketing executives say WOM is the most effective form of marketing.

The Middle East and Africa is the lowest-indexing region, with only 23% (Index 0.73) of digital consumers using WOM to discover new products and services, just as they’re less likely to use formal review sites.

This finding holds true across all generations, but is particularly pronounced for Gen Z, who are half as likely as the average consumer to use WOM.

Ads sen online and ads seen on TV rank as the top sources for brand discovery in this region, with WOM trailing in eighth position behind comments on social media and brand/product websites.

There is no one clear-cut reason for this lack of trust in peer-to-peer recommendations,.
It although it could be that in the Middle East, many companies still view social media as a means to ‘sell’ their brands and extend their global content into the region, rather than invest in authentic regional content. The relatively more limited availability of Arab and other local language resources could also play a role.

This could explain why brands and agencies in this region are resisting to adopt WOM as a marketing tool.

Profiling the WOM consumer.

There are some key patterns that people who value word of mouth share no matter where in the world they live.

WOM consumers are most likely to come from North America, what other characteristics define these individuals?

Compared to the average consumer, they’re:

  • 15% more likely to be female
  • 28% more likely to be divorced or widowed
  • 10% more likely to be in the top 10% of earners.

Older generations are typically more inclined to use WOM for brand discovery, with over a third of 45-54 (34%, Index 1.09) and 55-64 year olds (38%, Index 1.21) citing this as a main source for finding out about new brands and products.

For both baby boomers and Gen Xers, WOM recommendations places third as a brand discovery source behind ads seen on TV and search engines. It drops down to fourth for millennials, and sixth for Gen Z, but this still places it just ahead of recommendations on social media for both these younger generations.

Brand trust is at the root of word of mouth.

In 2018, we’ve seen a major shift in the way we think about privacy and brand trust.

The combination of high-profile corporate privacy scandals and wide-sweeping data legislation has brought about a sense of fatigue and disillusionment with contemporary online marketing techniques.

When the GDPR came into effect in May, many consumers predicted it would have a positive impact; the ability to hold companies to account for data misuse and to have greater control over what personal data they obtained was viewed very positively by those we surveyed.

Since then, however, internet users have become frustrated with the constant barrage of privacy notices, consent boxes and general GDPR-related information. Despite much of the high-profile privacy-related events of the past year stemming from Europe and North America, brand distrust is rampant across all of our tracked markets.

At least 6 in 10 people in all regions say they’re worried about how their personal data is being used by companies.

And this number jumps to 8 in 10 people in the Latin American market.

With this distrust comes both a general wariness of brands who only engage with their audiences through targeted ads on social media, as well as a hyperawareness of any disingenuous influencer marketing. It’s therefore hardly surprising that consumers consistently look towards recommendations from close one.

Increasing the spread of WOM marketing.

If brands can recapture what’s been acknowledged as the most valued form of marketing – built on consumers’ experience and trust – they’ll be able to increase their reach and boost positive reception, whether they take place on public review sites or in WeChat groups.

But while WOM recommendations can be an incredibly powerful marketing tool, but they crucially they have to be fostered by marketing strategies that go beyond ‘likes’.

These strategies even go beyond purposeful campaigns; although purpose-led strategies have been singled out as the key to brand growth, marketers have too-often fallen into the trap of seeking larger meaning only to look ‘faux-inspirational’ or insincere to consumers.

Creating credible recommenders is key to cracking WOM marketing.

In his 2016 TED talk, Chris Cowan shows that credible recommendations are much more likely to be considered and passed on compared to recommendations motivated by rewards.

Brands now, more than ever, need to focus on building genuine and authentic relationships with consumers through amazing customer service, transparent value exchanges, transparent data collection and creative marketing campaigns, so avid consumers will be encouraged to share their experiences.

Ephemeral Content Consumers: 5 Things Every Brand Should Know

Ephemeral content characterizes the social media landscape.

Derived from the Greek word ephḗmeros, it means “lasting one day” and refers to the fast-moving, short-lived nature of content and media we see today.

As a concept, it ties in with shorter attention spans, faster news cycles, and how social algorithms push viral content to the surface and then bury it in the depths of our feeds. Some internet users are frustrated by it, but we also a see large subset of consumers who are closely attuned to this type of content, eagerly seeking out the new and fresh.

Although there are platforms, like Twitter, that were built around the idea of short bursts of user and brand content, it was Snapchat that first managed to make a feature out of ephemerality.

Built to capture momentary conversations in real life, Snapchat fast became the go-to platform for teenagers everywhere. Fast forward a few years, and a plethora of platforms have copied this format of fleeting content, including Instagram, Facebook and – gone but never forgotten – Vine.

Ephemeral content has become central to many brands’ marketing strategies.

It can paint an authentic, behind-the-scenes, more ‘human’ picture of a brand and their vision, while also creating a FOMO effect that drives up engagement through the illusion of exclusivity.

So who are this audience and what makes them tick?

1. They’re aspirational, connected technophiles.

Ephemeral content consumers are made up of both males and females, with a 52% to 48% split respectively.

While neither gender dominates this group, this audience is predominantly younger internet users: over two thirds fall in the 16-34 age range.

But despite their youth, “ephemeral content consumers” isn’t just shorthand for a generation.

Compared to the average Gen Zer, this audience is more than twice as likely to be considered cosmopolitan and technophilic. 8 in 10 are aspirational individuals (Index 2.29), and they’re a very forward-thinking, motivated and career-focused group.

They’re also a group that care about their status.

7 in 10 say they like to stand out in a crowd, and over three quarters say that having the latest tech is important to them.

This matches the boldness and innovation of the content they love.

The hyper-awareness of their status and future may be due to their above-average income, with this group being 40% more likely to be in the top 10% income bracket.

This higher income also gives them the luxury of trying out new products and services, too: 6 in 10 say they would buy something simply for the experience of being part of the community around it.

They’re also much more likely to be positive when asked about the global economy (Index 1.46) or the future of the environment (Index 1.37).

2. Their consumption is spread across devices and platforms.

Ephemeral content consumption has become a near-defining characteristic of Gen Z and younger millennials’ media consumption behavior, which many commentators attribute to their digital native orientation and the familiarity with variety and freedom of choice it’s led to.

Reports often cite claims that teenage attention spans have decreased from around 11 to 8 seconds since the year 2000. Our research does show a dramatic increase in time spent on devices since measurements began, along with a global expansion in the number of devices used.

Ephemeral content consumers average 4.4 devices per user, compared to the global average of 3.7, and spend an average of 36 minutes more online than the general population.

This is a group that clearly enjoy being constantly connected, and have become adept at switching between screens, devices and platforms.

3. Social media is the base of most online activities.

Their social media usage takes place across multiple platforms, and their reasons for using them are just as diverse.

This group’s primary reason to be on social media is to stay up-to-date with news and current affairs (91%, Index 2.27), but this is followed closely by finding funny or entertaining content (89%, Index 2.45).

This group are also three times more likely than the average internet user to follow celebrities/celebrity news, and twice as likely to research products to buy.

Only 1 in 2 cite ‘to make sure I don’t miss out on anything’ as a factor for their social media usage.

Although this is nearly 2.5 times the rate of the average social media user, it does indicate that whilst they like to be connected and informed about world events, this group’s social media use is not based solely on FOMO or a sense of belonging.

4. They aren’t committed to any single topic.

Ephemeral content consumers are naturally not constrained by one particular topic of interest. In fact, they over-index by at least 45% on any topic of interest that we currently track.

Their highest-indexing interests, however, reflect their transient personality: dance entertainment (29%, Index 2.48), urban and modern art (31%, Index 2.48), celebrity news and gossip (35%, Index 2.40), entrepreneurship (35%, Index 2.22), and fashion and style (60%, Index 2.22).

All five of these interests can be seen as dynamic topics that regularly shift and update to reflect modern culture.

Eco-conscious consumer topics, such as volunteering and environmental issues, also rank highly with this group, which makes sense given how tuned in this group are to the issues of today.

This group are as ephemeral in their personal interests as they are in their content consumption. Their always-on-the-go lifestyle and trailblazer attitudes go hand-in-hand with their fickle interactions with content.

5. They’re all about online reputation.

Ephemeral content consumers are always on the lookout for the next big thing.

Just as they want fresh and exciting content, they similarly desire the newest products and services to try. So it comes as no surprise that this group think the most important role a brand has in a consumer’s life is to provide innovative and new products, which 1 in 3 cite as their favorite thing for brands to do.

But the most distinctive factor is when brands make them feel cool and trendy (Index 1.31).

As mentioned previously, this group score highly on status-seeking, and maintaining their appearance and online reputation is important to them. These values are reflected in the factors that motivate this group to promote their favorite brand online.

They’re approximately twice as likely as the average person to advocate a brand if it enhances their online reputation (Index 2.04), if they have insider knowledge about the brand (Index 1.94), if they have access to exclusive content or services (Index 1.88), or if they have a personal relationship with a brand (Index 1.85). This demonstrates how responsive this group are to brands that make them feel like a valued and special consumer.

Ephemeral content comes and goes, but as a marketing tactic it’s here to stay.

That’s why it’s crucial for brands to understand who the ephemeral content consumers are, and what they expect from this fast-paced content ecosystem.

By creating and promoting content that satisfies the group’s need for dynamism and indulges their desire to look trendy, marketers can create hot-off-the-press brand advocates.

Respondents are categorized as ephemeral content consumers if they use social media for any two out of the following three reasons:

  • ‘to find funny or entertaining content’
  • ‘to follow celebrities and celebrity news’,
  • ‘to stay up to date with news and current events’,

and if they strongly agree with any two out of the following three attitudinal statements:

  • ‘I like to keep up with the latest fashions’
  • ‘I tend to make decisions quickly, based on a gut feeling’
  • ‘it is important to stay in touch with what is going on in the world’.

This definition rendered a sample of 4,527 respondents, making up 6.1% of the global population.

Insight for SMEs: 5 Mistakes Small Businesses Make and How to Overcome Them

Today’s SMEs face a number of challenges that pose obstacles to growth.

A recent study of 400 SME leaders revealed that some of their key challenges are:

  • Keeping up with technological change and disruption.
  • Inciting and delivering constant innovation to deliver results.
  • Understanding different consumer groups, including their main motivations and brand relationships.
  • Managing rising costs as the business grows.

Research by Imperial College London and marketing agency Earnest found SMEs generally turn to online research for answers, but remain skeptical about the advice they receive and want to combine it with other modes of research.

There’s an air of confusion around who to trust, and what small businesses should do to improve their business strategy to get the best ROI possible.

Here are some common mistakes SMEs can make when reliable research isn’t used to guide decision-making.

Five mistakes small businesses make

1. Applying big business approaches.

Shallow internet research may uncover what appears to be strong advice on how to position and market your business, but this advice isn’t tailored to your company size, strategy, mission, values or services.

2. Bracketing themselves in by looking only at the obvious customer.

Without deep insight, it’s easy to only see the logical customers of your brand and products. But when you dig deeper, you may find suitable and switched-on consumer groups that you otherwise wouldn’t have allocated resource to targeting, leading to a better ROI.

3. Making assumptions on their audience.

You may think you know your audience, but unless you’ve used deep survey data offered up directly from the consumers themselves, you’re simply making assumptions. A solid marketing strategy is built on a foundation of absolute truth, and when you get your information from those you’re looking to target, you know you’re on the right path.

4. Not investing in content marketing.

Content marketing is a key focus for any business looking to create a strong brand-consumer relationship. But why spend resource on something that may not yield immediate fiscal results?

Because when you offer relevant and actionable content to your target audience, you’re moving far beyond simply making a sale. You’re answering their questions before they ask them, helping them solve their problems, creating brand trust, and encouraging loyalty and advocacy.

And according to Demand Metric, content marketing generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing, and costs 62% less.

5. Not using facts to guide decisions.

Again, guesswork and assumptions just don’t cut it for any company with a limited amount of time and money to spend.

Even if you know your consumers well, today’s audiences are constantly changing and evolving both in terms of their behaviors and their opinions.

It’s absolutely crucial to stay on top of these changes and keep a constant pulse on your buyer personas.

Luckily, these mistakes can all be overcome.

How SMEs can overcome these challenges

Validate your audience.

Using global data from a trusted source, you can confirm that your target audience is appropriate and uncover new segments of consumers that would also convert if they’re targeted well. This way, you’re focusing your spend on strategies that will pay off.

Conduct robust research to understand their needs.

But it’s not enough to know who your consumers are – you need to understand what you can offer them.

By creating data-driven buyer personas, you can map segments in minute detail, outlining the interests, attitudes and perceptions that are crucial to target.

Using data from the consumers themselves enables you to identify where, when and how your brand can swoop in and fulfill their needs.

Know your value proposition per target consumer.

Once you’ve identified who your target consumers really are and created granular buyer personas, you need to customize your strategy to each of them.

A value proposition demonstrates to the consumer what your business can offer them and how, highlighting in detail the ways in which they will benefit from your services..

But it’s not enough to have one, overarching value proposition to represent your brand – you must go deeper to hone in on the unique aspects of each consumer group you’re looking to reach.

Invest in the right channels and tactics.

With all these data-driven tools at hand, you can reduce wasted spend and become hyper-targeted.

By focusing your marketing only on the channels and tactics that you already know your target consumers will respond to, you’re finally moving far beyond guesswork and putting your brand in front of the right eyes, in the right place, at the right time.

Where to start

By investing in a top-quality data source, you can avoid making unfounded business decisions and face challenges head on, with confidence.

Challenges like new tech, constant innovation, evolving consumer groups and rising costs can all be managed when you have true, reliable insight into what your consumers expect from you.

And when you have access to a source of deep consumer insight, you have everything you need to move past the guesswork and be in complete control of your business strategy.

Steps to generate and implement solid market research

1. Identify the problem. What issue do you want market research to solve?

2. Set your objectives. Define your key objective or objectives. This might be expressed as a question, a statement or a hypothesis.

3. Start your research planning. Detail how the information will be collected and analyzed, and get a clear plan of action.

4. Determine your sample size. Select a small, hyper-targeted group of people who are representative of a wider group or population to get the deepest insight possible.

5. Start collecting your data. Using a mixture of active and passive data collection combines analytical and scientific data to give breadth and depth to your findings.

6. Analyze the data. Data analysis involves bringing together the qualitative or quantitative data – or mixture of both – for scrutiny.

7. Start applying your insights. Interpreting the information and understanding how this can be translated into business actions is the final stage of marketing research. You can then apply them to your strategy, and create data-driven campaigns.

Introducing contemporary, granular market research to your business can seem daunting – especially if you haven’t made use of a data source in the past.

But as many SMEs are aware, in today’s landscape, having the data to guide your decisions is no longer a nice to have, it’s a necessity.

With reliable and robust consumer insight at hand, you can avoid making small mistakes, and focus on the work that will net you success and growth.