All businesses need to reach out to their target market for visibility. Nowadays, digital marketing is the best way to do so because people spend more time online than on any other media. Digital marketing is essential for brand management or ensuring that your brand is recognizable in the crowded market and that consumers associate it with positivity. That creates brand loyalty.
Several studies show that consumers now support brands that embody their values. It is, therefore, crucial for companies to align with important social and environmental matters.
Consumers Choose Brands that Align with Their Values
According to the fourth edition of the State of the Connected Customer by Salesforce from a survey conducted from July 16 to August 18, 2020, across 27 countries worldwide, 56 percent of consumers evaluate the role of companies in society and hold them to a higher standard, and 55 percent think they have the power to influence change in these companies. Most or 89 percent want companies to state their values clearly, and 90 percent want companies to demonstrate their values concretely.
Certain behaviors of companies influence consumer purchases. How companies treat their employees during the pandemic is important to 82 percent of consumers. How companies treat customers during the crisis is important to 85 percent; their environmental practices are important to 78 percent. Their actions on economic injustice are important to 76 percent, while their actions on racial injustice are important to 73 percent. Companies’ community involvements are important to 72 percent.
Consumers want companies to reduce their carbon emissions and use technology ethically, even if it means reducing profits. Companies must advocate for human and civil rights and hire a diverse workforce. When the company’s values do not align with theirs, 61 percent stopped buying from that company, and 59 percent switched to a different brand.
Companies Must Show Their Commitments Through Digital Marketing
Digital marketing is now superior to all other forms of marketing. According to data from Statista, as of 2020, Americans spent an average of 470 minutes daily on digital media against 347 minutes in traditional media. The forecast is for digital media usage to increase while traditional media usage decreases. The prediction is that Americans will spend an average of 477 minutes daily on digital media for the whole of 2021 and an average of 482 minutes daily for the whole of 2022. In contrast, they will spend only an average of 330 minutes daily on traditional media in 2021 and 318 minutes daily in 2022.
Another study by Statista shows that as of January 2021, there were 298.8 million active internet users in the United States, with 269.5 million of them accessing the internet on mobile gadgets. Among all internet users in the U.S., 240 million were active on social media, and 233.3 million accessed social media through their mobile gadgets.
According to the Salesforce survey, as of 2020, 88 percent of consumers expect an acceleration of digital initiatives among companies because of the pandemic, with 68 percent stating that they spend more time engaging with brands online than offline. Even after the pandemic, 58 percent of individual consumers will be doing more online shopping than before. This is even higher among business buyers as 80 percent of them expect to do more business online.
Consumers stated that they use an average of nine channels when browsing products, seeking advice, and making purchases. Millennials use more than the average number of channels. The top ten channels preferred by consumers are e-mail, mobile phones, person-to-person engagement, online chats, mobile apps, messenger apps, short media services (SMS) or texting, online portals, video chats, and social media.
This brings to light the importance of omnichannel engagement. Digital marketing efforts of companies must follow consumers across all these channels with a unified messaging that is tweaked according to the design of the channel. When marketing products, digital marketers must ensure that the brand’s social and environmental values are highlighted. Concrete actions by the company, such as financial donations to causes through nonprofit organizations and participation in civil society activities, must be shared, preferably with videos.
Acceptance of artificial intelligence (AI) is high, with 60 percent of consumers across generations open to its usage to improve their digital experiences. However, there is a caveat because 65 percent expressed concern over unethical usage of AI, and 54 percent expressed concern about AI bias. Companies can assuage these concerns by using digital marketing campaigns to show their transparency in AI usage. They must also prove that they are taking all measures to ensure consumers’ data safety and privacy.
Your Brand Must Evolve with Society
The pandemic has forever changed the mindset and behavior of consumers, and there is no turning back. They now hold tight to their values, which permeates their entire lifestyle, including their purchasing behavior. Companies must likewise commit to the same social and environmental values and act according to these.