Faulty Retailer Marketing Perceptions Conflicts with Consumer Preferences

Marketing Perceptions

Pretend your marketing perceptions

of consumers

is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay

over here

on the far, far left.

While your customers stands


way, way, way

over here

on the far, far right.

Between you and your customers is this gargantuan gap.  It is a serious gap in the marketing perceptions of what business owners, companies believe the consumer wants and what they really want.

This post will show you the gap in marketing perceptions and give you some corrective action steps you can take to get in alignment with your customers.

First, the Consumer’s Preferences

Recently, Gallup released an issue of its ongoing study of consumers: State of the American Consumer: Insights for Business Leaders.  This study started in 2008 and the results include 2014.

For those of you who aren’t as research geeky as me, I’ll give you the top level highlights of the Gallup study.

  • Consumers have changed since the financial collapse of 2008.  They are more cautious and demanding and prefer to lead than to follow.
  • There are three different types of customers.  They are:

Marketing Perceptions - 3 types of customers

  •  ‘Fully engaged’ customers mean more to the bottom line for any and all businesses
    • Overall industries, such customers represent a 23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship
      growth over the average customer.
    • ‘Disengaged customers’ represent a 13% discount across these same measures.
      Marketing Perceptions - Gallup Study - Customer Engagement


    • Engaging both employees and customers can create a 240% boost in performance-related outcomes.
    • Fully engaged retail banking customers bring 37% more revenue per year than those who are not engaged.
    • Fully engaged electronics shoppers make 44% more store visits in one year than those who are not engaged.  They also spend $373 per shopping trip versus disengaged shoppers who spend $289 per trip

A quote from the Gallup study:

Consumers want to walk into a store, go online, or contact a customer care center and have the experience they were told they would have. They want companies to back up those taglines and follow through on their guarantees.

When companies do this, consumers come to align themselves with those brands and ultimately begin to trust them.

Retailers’ Perceptions of What Consumers Want

RetailMeNot offers retailers the opportunity to present consumers deals, coupon offers and discounts in Europe and the U.S on websites it controls.  It conducted research in April of this year among retailers and the findings are in stark contrast to the Gallup Study.

A snippet of RetailMeNot study findings:

Nearly three in four retail marketers (70 percent) said that most customers care a lot about finding a good deal.

• Not only are consumers looking for a good deal, they are looking for them online:  Approximately two-thirds (63 percent) of retailers studied said customers were “savvy when it comes to finding deals on the Internet.”

Yes, this study is focused on retailers, but I would argue there are many service and B2B business owners today who share this perception of their customers as well.

The Marketing Perceptions Gap

According to Gallup, the consumer has evolved from the mindless shop-aholic of yesterday into a savvy consumer who knows what they want and the type of companies with which they want to do business.

They are or have become selective and they are willing to reward those companies who not only meet their needs but, most importantly, provide the type of shopping experience that makes them feel valued as a customer.  In return for that positive experience, these consumers become the company’s advocates and loyal supporters.

The retailer – and many other types of business owners – are still caught in yesterday’s headset that all the consumer wants is a deal…a sale…a discount…a coupon.

Are there consumers out there who are deal shoppers?  Absolutely!

But the question you, as a business owner, have to ask is:

Do you want to build your business on the backs of consumers who will readily switch when your competitor has a big sale…

…or do you want to build a business around the most loyal, most profitable consumers? 

It is your choice.

Alignment of Marketing Perceptions and Reality

This gap in marketing perceptions and reality reminds me of a quote from Peter Drucker:

“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence;

it is to act with yesterday’s logic.”

Are you acting with yesterday’s logic where you believe all consumers want is a ‘deal’?

Want to change?  Want to reap some of the profits and benefits of having ‘fully engaged’ customers?

Here are five steps to get you started.

1.  Change Your Perception about Consumers

Recognize that while there are some who only want a deal, these are not the type of customers who will build and support your business.  I refer to these customers as your top 20% in my book Marketing Online Made Simple: WHO.  You want more of these types of customers and not deal chasers.

2.  Identify Your WHY

Why should consumers use you versus anyone else who offers the same product or service?  Your WHY is your brand promise, your UVP and this post will get you started.

Remember your brand is not your logo, your tagline or your advertising.  It is the experience you deliver your customers through your products, services and your brand.  It is how you make your customers FEEL.

3.  Communicate Your WHY

Once you’ve identified your WHY, figure out how best to communicate the delivery of that brand promise in all of the places where your customers come into contact with you – on your website, in your emails, in your social media messages, in your advertising, in your storefront or office, through your employees and customer service.

4.  Walk Your Talk

You do this by executing on that brand promise throughout your business. If you have employees, make certain they understand the role they play in delivering on your brand promise and that they execute.

5.  Keep At It

Put all of your focus on delivering your WHY – your brand promise, your UVP – and you will find that you are creating more and more customers who will learn to trust your company to deliver and will be happy to be its advocates.

Your Turn

What do you think?  Are your perceptions in line with consumers’ reality?

Is your business being rewarded for delivering on its promise?

Is there more you could do to make your brand stand out from your competitors?

If you need help with these questions, feel free to email me and I’ll be happy to help.



Gallup Study:  State of The American Consumer

RetailMeNot Research


Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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