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Not Just Another Consumer: Survey Shows People Want More Personal Relationships With Brands

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Some feel capitalism may be the way of the world, but that doesn’t mean people want to feel commoditized as they navigate it.

In fact, according to a new survey from Boston-based creative communications agency CTP, people want a more personal relationship with the companies they purchase from. And failing to do so could mean missing sales — especially for new or small businesses.

Here’s what else the survey found.

The value of a personal connection

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents say they prefer to do business with brands that understand them “on a human level” and cater to their needs. Younger folks ages 25 to 34 prefer this approach even more, at 72%.

Companies can gain insight into their customers through personal data collection. But many are weary: At most, 34% of people feel very comfortable sharing some personal information with brands they have a relationship with (and in that case, the category was their favorite types of music).

Brands must also be prepared to offer something of worth in exchange for this valuable data. In fact, 59% of respondents say it’s very important that brands provide product discounts and promotions when they give their personal information.

Going along with this trade-off, and strengthening their relationship with customers, could even result in more sales. Just over a third (34%) of those surveyed say they’ve bought more products or services from companies that made a personal connection with them. Further, nearly two-thirds (64%) say they’re willing to pay a premium for a brand that communicates with them personally.

For small businesses, the personal connection could be the difference between having to take out a business loan to stay afloat and thriving.

Keys to brand relationships

When it comes to what people value most from companies they spend with, most respondents cite excellent customer service (70%), being trustworthy and reliable (76%) and ensuring superior product quality and innovation (69%) as being “very important.” Once again, these top values stem from — and contribute to — the customer-brand relationship.

Another key aspect brands should consider is social responsibility. In fact, 41% of respondents ranked standing up for social or environmental issues as very important. And for those that focus on younger audiences, it’s even more vital to address: 61% of women ages 18 to 24 and 55% of men ages 18 to 54 say that standing up for causes is very important. That’s compared with just 16% of men older than 54 and 28% of women older than 54.

Meanwhile, there are also things brands will need to avoid to keep up with their customers’ demands. According to the survey, these include:

  • Making people feel targeted by them
  • Pushing products on them
  • Appearing only to be interested in folks’ money
  • Taking their customers for granted
  • Constantly pushing the same product

Keeping customers happy can be complicated, but one thing is clear: It isn’t just about providing a great product anymore. Companies will have to take a more personal (and personalized) approach to get by in the current climate.

Methodology: CTP used Pollfish to survey 1,200 people in June 2021 and the fourth quarter of 2021.


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