Digi consumers have stronger relationships with brands…no duh!

22 July 2009

Those clever folks at our WPP sister company Millward Brown conducted an additional study on WPP’s BrandZ global equity database to specifically examine “digital” consumers, i.e. those who have bought from or searched for information about an individual category online.  Findings show that, on average, digital consumers have a 15 percent stronger relationship with brands than non-digital consumers.

The strongest brand relationships were found with airline brands where digital consumers’ brand relationships were nearly twice as strong (93%) as those of their offline counterparts.  That makes complete sense.  As a frequent traveler myself, I often check my frequent flyer mileage, schedules and bookings online, and I have my favorite websites (Virgin Atlantic) and Tweeters (JetBlue).

Other key categories where digital consumers had stronger relationships than non-digi folks were, not surprisingly, IT hardware and software (48% stronger), credit cards (33% stronger) and fragrances (29% stronger).  Talk about the importance of image!

There seems to be no hard-fast rule about complexity or simplicity of purchase either.  Cars, a relatively complex purchase, have stronger relationships with digi consumers (17% stronger), but body care – a much easier and quicker purchase I would proffer – has an even stronger pull (at 22% stronger).

And the digital advantage was found throughout the world, with correlations to internet penetration (Japan and Taiwan scoring the highest average digital relationships differences).

Why then, do so many leading brands not demonstrate a truly well-rounded digital engagement with consumers and other important influencers?  This is not just about Web design and development, banner ads, widgets or iPhone apps, but a more thorough social participation in the online environment.

Interestingly, even Millward Brown is going more digital.  I couldn’t find a Face Book page, but I’m now following them on Twitter and just downloaded their iPhone app.  It’s kinda cool too – a quick reference to the strength of brands by category, region, top risers and newcomers (available at the app store; look for BrandZ 100).

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