Marketers significantly overestimating their CX abilities and need to rethink media: Starcom

There is a dramatic gap between the experiences consumers are having with brands, and the CX marketers believe they are delivering.

Starcom’s Media Futures has revealed marketers mark themselves twice as highly as consumers rate them when it comes to delivering great customer experiences. In addition, paid media is significantly under-indexing when it comes to creating a positive image of, and experience with, a brand.

Starcom’s report found there is an ‘expectation gap’ between marketers and consumers

The research, which this year pivoted away from being a forecasting report towards being an examination of ‘return on experience’, tracked 2,600 experiences shared by 400 consumers via a real-time mobile diary over the course of a week.

It covered FMCG, banking, automotive and consumer electronics, and was cross-referenced with the attitudes and priorities of 189 senior marketing decision makers.

The companies involved in the study had in excess of 100 employees and an above-the-line spend of at least $2.5m in 2017.

Nicole Conroy, national research director at Starcom said even though brands and businesses believe they are significantly advancing their CX capabilities, consumer expectations are out-of-step with what the market is currently offering.

“This year we see a bit of a leap with businesses feeling that they’ve now reached a level of strong maturity in terms of their CX function being very well integrated into their business and being sort of not only in their strategic approach, but their everyday operations. So businesses are investing money in CX and they’re really feeling quite confident themselves they’ve made a good step forward in terms of how well they’re doing that,” she said.

“But this is where we see a big disconnect with consumers. We’re actually at the point where there’s a 106% gap between how well consumers think businesses create great experiences and how well businesses think they create those experiences.

“So businesses think ‘We’re creating great experiences and doing a great job on this’. Whereas for consumers, they’re a little bit behind that in terms of where they’re going. And I think part of this is just that consumer expectations are growing so quickly. We know that they’re accelerated with Amazon coming into the market, so those expectations just keep snowballing and getting higher and higher. Businesses think they’re doing a good job of keeping up, but consumers don’t have the same point of view on that.”

Graeme Wood, Starcom’s national strategy director, said the expectation gap could be attributed to advancing technology.

The report compares marketers’ views with that of consumers

“The pace of media and technology are changing faster than we and our clients are really able to keep up with. The more research we do, the more we find that the pace is just increasing,” he said.

The research also drove home the importance of consumers having positive experiences with brands, but noted paid media was significantly underperforming in this area.

Instead, “real-life” experiences with brands are what has a lasting and positive impact, the report said.

“The report found that real-life experiences with brands are 2.4 times more likely to be very positive,” a release about the report said. “Just 32% of experiences were a result of paid media, meaning that marketers and media need to rethink the role of all media across paid, owned, earned and shared to create powerful connected experiences.”

Paid media made up 32% of the experiences which were documented as part of the study, but accounted for just 22% of consumers’ “very positive” experiences.

By comparison, real-life experiences accounted for 44% of the recorded interactions with brands, but were responsible for 53% of  “very positive” reactions.

Conroy said marketers shouldn’t conclude from the report that paid media is losing relevance, but instead advised a rethink.

“People aren’t just sitting in a vacuum waiting for you to show them your great new TV ad, or for them to go to the cinema to see some advertising. They’re experiencing brands in everyday life through every single interaction they’ve had with that brand….. Within their minds they start to build up a relationship with that brand and a picture with that brand,” she said.

“We’re not saying at this point that paid media doesn’t play a role, but it’s perhaps about rethinking how we see media.”

Toby Barbour, Starcom’s CEO also further explained the shift in Starcom’s positioning of Media Futures.

“We have evolved our approach to Media Futures, focusing primarily on understanding human motivation, and applying our insights to close the gap between what people want, and what brands need to drive long-term growth,” he said.

“Our focus for client investment will be working to close the expectation gap by satisfying the tension between what people want and what brsnds need to create connected experiences that drive human and business outcomes. The ROE [return on experience] framework will be a key indicator of success.”


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