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The CROP Touchpoints Study - Mastering the communication mix

Categories: Food for thought

Posted on 09-30-10 at 3:58 p.m.

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The question that we hear all of the time is, "what is the best communication mix to reach my target consumer segment and then engage with them?" To help provide answers, we surveyed Canadians on how much influence 18 different consumer touchpoints have on their brand selection decisions in 12 major categories (automobiles, luxury goods, home appliances, home improvement, financial services, apparel, pharmaceuticals, women's health & beauty care, men's care, food and home cleaning products). This is what we learned:

Word of mouth is the media channel for the 21st century

Friends and family have the most claimed influence over a person's purchase decisions.  The next biggest phenomenon is what is being referred to today as "earned and owned media". Professionals and specialists (note, not necessarily celebrities - scan down) endorsing brands are very powerful influencers as well as in-store experiences such as displays, demos, brochures etc.

Across all 12 categories we observed a surprising consistency in touchpoint selections. With a few distinctions, the averages to the left are representative of each individual category leading us to conclude that...

Media channels are people-driven and not category-driven

As was expected going into this study (for details, please consult our full article and appendix). Consumers are in the driver's seat and if they want to consult the same media to buy groceries as they do to buy a car, they have that prerogative and more importantly, they have the means.

Among traditional media, television is still a strong performer in 5th position followed by newspapers and magazines in 7th, 8th and 9th positions.

Brand websites are the incontestable online influencers when it comes to a consumer's top of mind recall. One in five consumers claim that they have a very strong influence over their decisions.

Social media and content sharing sites are not yet perceived as having much clout when it comes to influencing decisions. This shows that these new tools need to be integrated within more holistic strategies.

Consumer values and Touchpoints Influence

Beyond the information gathered on the touchpoints themselves, we asked consumers an abbreviated battery of questions from our consumer values study, our PANORAMA program (3SC), to further investigate consumer motivations and needs. Based on our discovery that media channels today are undeniably "people-driven", we were very happy that we had these deeper "people insights" to dive into. The graphic below re-arranges the touchpoints explained above according to a consumer values map and provides an interpretation of how users of these different touchpoints are distinct in their personal values and "hot-buttons".

Looking at the above map of consumer values, we learn how various touchpoints resound with different consumer types. For example, those who place high value on social status recognition will be more receptive to social media networks and new media, but also to television. People receptive to "packaged" communications like newspaper, radio and email communications are seeking authorities on a subject and are more likely to be looking to be told what to do. By contrast, autonomous consumers are most reliant on word of mouth, specialists and the in-store experience. Magazines have a unique position as they cater to people who feel that they are creative and live customized lifestyles.

Finally, our analysis reveals the most universal of consumer touchpoints at the center of the map: brand websites. Content available on brand websites is not only influential, trustworthy and a great resource for pre-purchase research, but it has the potential to have something for every type of consumer and as such we conclude that ...

Websites are the "Grand Central Stations" for all communication efforts

Armed with this multi-dimensional view of consumer touchpoints, you are well on your way to mastering the communication mix. We welcome your comments and ideas and will be happy to discuss ways in which to incorporate these insights within your communication strategies.

*The Touchpoint study is a North American study.  CROP handled the Canadian portion of the study while our New York-based partner CRM Metrix handled the US portion of the study.

Click here to read the full article