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Post-Covid Consumer Journeys and Empathic Communication


Wavemaker’s Erge Güçlü Ayar explores how sales campaigns continue to work well, but whether it is still worth investing in brand communication

If our next purchase decision can be predicted by data, is brand love and creating connection the romance of the marketing world?

We are all aware of the growth of ecommerce post-covid, as well as how investments have increased and will continue to increase. With that being said, it can be argued that experience is now the new ecommerce, and we are trying to understand where we can take consumer experience.

As consumers lead the shift and see much digital content as shoppable, content and commerce have increasingly merged on social platforms. Consumers want to purchase items quickly and easily. Which is why social commerce will focus on social selling; no consumer or marketer wants to waste their time. If I’m watching Beyonce’s latest music video, I should be able to buy her sunglasses on YouTube, or if I’m searching for a room on Airbnb, I should be able to purchase the towel I like instantaneously.

While sales campaigns are working well, is it still worth investing in brand communication?

The answer to the question is a resounding ‘yes’ and, arguably, it is more important than ever before.

According to the Wavemaker’s 2021 Momentum Global data study – the largest source of consumer purchase journey intelligence globally – six out of 10 people start their journey by searching the name of the brand they would like to buy from. In Turkey, the volume of brand searches has increased significantly, too.

We can explain this subject in more detail through our perspective of the consumer journey. Unlike the funnel approach, we have an endless cycle. On this journey, there are consecutive two stages; priming and active.

We define the priming stage as the daily life of the consumer. In this stage, shortlists are created subconsciously because we are exposed to a multitude of ads. Brands invest in a consumer, who may one day be in need and shop from a specific category. With only 5% of consumers in the market and 95% outside, this potential audience is crucial.

Consumers exit the primary stage when their need arises. They then enter the active stage, due to a specific trigger. When entering the active stage, consumers search and compare brands. At this stage of the cycle, consumers tend to buy one of the brands on shortlists that were created subconsciously in the priming stage. The probability that the positive bias we acquired in the primary stage will turn into sales varies from category to category, but the average is 60%.

According to the Momentum research conducted in 30 different categories and markets, 60% of people who made a purchase claimed to have a ‘strong priming bias’ about the brand they chose. So, they usually go shopping with a specific brand already in mind.

There tends to be only a few brands on a consumer’s shortlist; on average, people choose between 3.7 chocolate brands, 2.3 shampoo brands or three beer brands. If a brand isn’t on that shortlist, we have already lost. So, how do we get on these shortlists?

Wherever technology takes us, humanitarian issues, local insights, and creating connection will be the most important aspect. While analysing data, we should not forget that the group we will communicate with is not a robot or a number, but a human with emotions, sorrows, and bad mornings.

People have unpredictable behaviours and empathetic communication helps minimise this gap. Historically, brands attempted to act like a human. It is also mentioned in the acclaimed book, Psychology of Persuasion, that this is a cliché. But, as we all know, ‘similarity’ works. Saying ‘I understand you, I am just like you’ has worked well so far, but now the consumer wants to be a part of an aspirational dream. People would like to see brands as superhuman.

Storytelling has never been more important. Until now, brands have sold pleasure, experience, joy, happiness, freedom, and sometimes identity, rather than a product or service. Now, we must do more. The consumer wants to be sure of how their mood will change or life positively impacted once they’ve bought a product or service.

Tapping into the purchase decision through brand love, empathic connection and aspirational storytelling sits at the romantic heart of the marketing world.

Source: Wavemaker Global Momentum 2021, Google Insights Finder, The Psychology of Persuasion – Robert B. Cialdini.

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