Gone are the days when household name brands could easily convince consumers to repeat purchases or buy more frequently. Consumer behavior has abruptly shifted within the last couple of years and as a result, brands (especially legacy ones) will need to work a bit harder to cultivate and sustain bonds with their audiences. Brands that don’t stand up to “catch the wave” and understand new purchase behaviors as they happen will be left in the sand.
Today’s consumers are more willing than ever to try new brands. Brand loyalty is falling to an all-time low as consumers are entering a new “discovery phase”. This means that they are in the driver’s seat and are more empowered to branch away from products and brands they’ve comfortably known for so long. Consumers are ready to explore new brands and educate themselves thoroughly before making any type of purchase decision. With this new discovery phase comes an important new audience identified as the “moveable middle”.
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What is the “moveable middle”?
The “moveable middle” comprises of consumers that aren’t loyal to one brand over a competitor brand; they are neither very likely nor very unlikely to buy. This audience can be persuaded and influenced because they are often willing to adapt or change a viewpoint based on the evidence they are presented with. This audience is significantly important because loyal consumers that brands target time and time again inevitably get tired of products or otherwise stray. Brands need a continuous influx of new buyers and rising household penetration to grow.
Factors affecting consumer purchase decisions & brand loyalty
There are a few reasons why consumers are quickly moving into this “moveable middle” segment. The first is in a response to inflation – consumers have become quickly more price-conscious due to the current hardships affecting families across the globe. This means that a consumer’s go-to brands and products may take a backseat to comparable brands and products that are easier on wallets. Second, supply chain issues often leave consumers to pick the only option available at the time of their purchase journey. Third, there is a conscious lifestyle change movement happening where shoppers are choosing food and beverage products that align more with personal health goals or preferences. Consumers are nutritional label-focused and becoming much more aware of where a product comes from, what it contains and how it is made.
Bottom line – connecting the dots between what your brand stands for and the values of your “moveable middle” audience will get them to think or feel something new about your brand.
How advertisers can reach and activate the “moveable middle”
A recent study by Mobile Marketing Association and Neustar found that consumers within the “moveable middle” tend to be 5x more responsive to a brand’s advertising. Advertising is extremely effective with this group, which means that minor movements can be major gains for your brand in the long run.
What most advertisers need to remember is that a purchase decision (big or small) is not made solely by one individual – it is made by an entire household with multiple opinions and views. By targeting the entire household with impactful CTV ads, advertisers can provide “moveable middle” audiences with brand experiences that all household decision-makers can engage with. Leveraging the storytelling power of TV/video ads to deliver the right messaging will help cultivate stronger emotional connections between consumers and your brand or products.
Since coupons and deals are top of mind for consumers amongst record high inflation, advertisers should frame their messaging around these offers. Sustainability efforts and stories related to your brand’s values and community involvement also tend to resonate with this group of shoppers. The more health-conscious can be appealed to with messaging that highlights product labels and ingredients. To make these ads more interactive and actionable, many CPG brands will use dynamic maps to direct consumers where to buy the products. All these messaging themes help fuel a stronger brand affinity and ultimately an emotional connection, which positively impacts the bottom line.
As with all marketing campaigns, it is important to test and learn with partners, see what’s working and what isn’t, and adjust the strategy based on these learnings to improve results.
At the end of the day, data is knowledge so it is vital to include a measurement strategy in your campaign that validates your media and targeting choices. This creates a stronger relationship between your brand, and your media partnerships, and reaches the “moveable middle” by building brand impact together.
Successfully reaching the “movable middle” audience with strategic targeting and thoughtful creative messaging can increase awareness, perception, and consideration to ultimately turn casual shoppers into customers with high lifetime value.
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