Attention Marketing Research (a combination of know-how and experience of PMR Consulting & Research market researchers and Attention Marketing consultants) analysed the sources from which Poles get information about products and services before they make important, extraordinary buying decisions. The conclusions clearly show that advertisements are no longer the most important tool of sales communication and it is direct communication and loyal communities of satisfied customers that are becoming more and more significant.
Examples of non-standard products include a washing machine, refrigerator, television set, record player or car, as these are products that we purchase relatively seldom. 78 percent of the survey participants pointed out that before buying a non-standard product or service they first gather information about them. This factor is hardly affected by the gender of the consumers (men 79 percent, women 77 percent).
Following an analysis of the results one may, however, draw a conclusion that the younger, the better educated and the more affluent the customers, the more often they seek information about products and services when preparing to make an important buying decision.
“Younger (up to 34 years old) and more affluent customers, particularly those from big cities, are more conscious about their shopping”, explains Anna Grabara, Senior Research Executive of PMR Consulting & Research. “They are also more aware of the influence that various information sources have on them. Buying new items, particularly those more expensive ones, is, for them, an element of shaping their lifestyle, not just pure satisfaction of their needs. When looking for their preferred products, they do not mainly focus on the price and therefore, they more intensively seek information about products, not only to spend little but to spend well.
Credibility of Information
PMR Consulting & Research pollsters also asked Polish consumers to assess credibility of individual sources of information about products and services. The sources were divided into three groups: the people we know, meaning our family, friends, including Facebook friends, the people we do not know: bloggers, vloggers, guides, and producers, who communicate with consumers via commercials or directly, via their web sites or fanpages.
According to the respondents the most credible and reliable source of information about products and services is the family. 41 percent of the respondents found it very credible, and another 25 percent – rather credible. Friends are, according to Poles, nearly as credible as the family – respectively, 25 percent of the respondents selected here the answer “very credible”, and 31 percent – “rather credible”. The survey participants assigned a much poorer assessment to responses their friends give when answering questions on Facebook. Only 8 percent of consumers found them very credible, 21 percent – rather credible, while as much as 28 percent found these responses completely non-credible and 15 percent – rather non-credible.
“The results confirm one of the trends stating that the so-called micro-influencers matter even more than before. Communication falls one level down; over celebrities and experts we prefer family and friends. It’s encouraging that despite the fact we spend more time online, direct relations still evoke greater trust and represent a greater value. Internet is a flat medium, more and more often associated with fake facts which we do not verify. Obviously, this is not a new trend but it has gained a new meaning today, which might spread even more, so it is worthwhile to watch it carefully”, said Adam Sanocki, Managing Partner in Attention Marketing.
In the second group – the sources represented by people we do not know personally – Poles trust the most opinions and information published by internet users directly below product or service descriptions (reviews) and on internet forums. They were regarded as a very credible source by, respectively, 21 and 17 percent of the respondents, and as rather credible – by 29 and 31 percent. Less credible and reliable Poles found traditional guides and online guides (44 percent of positive responses), the press (37 percent of positive responses) and blogs and vlogs (41 percent of positive responses).
“Finding yourself within the loads and loads of information about products today requires true competence which is a characteristic of younger and better educated consumers. They are those who demonstrate greater trust in information coming from people they do not know personally and from producers themselves”, says Anna Grabara of PMR Consulting & Research. “They are better finding themselves among online sources, which is why they are able to find the information they need. In cities the role of social bonds becomes more vital than in villages or towns, so the influence of recommendations is also carried over to the internet. Therefore, with this group of consumers – young, educated people in big cities – you must communicate via multiple channels.”
We Do Not Trust Advertisements
Interesting conclusions may be drawn from the analysis of responses regarding the last group of sources related directly to the product manufacturer or service provider. Consumers found all the forms of advertising non-credible sources of information. TV commercials were regarded as completely not credible by as many as 45 percent of the respondents, rather not credible – by 25 percent. As regards outdoor ads, the results were 44 and 25 percent, respectively, and as for online ads - 43 and 25 percent. However, the survey showed that although the consumers do not treat advertisements as credible or reliable sources of information that could help them make the right buying decisions, they more appreciate credibility of information available on the web sites of the manufacturers and service providers.
“Our research clearly demonstrates a very important phenomenon – advertising no longer affects consumers’ buying decisions to the extent it used to in the past. People more consciously select their information sources and the type of contents they find useful in their everyday lives. On the other hand, they filter out contents they find unimportant. This is the reason why the establishment of the world Coalition for Better Ads was purposeful. The members of the coalition declared to publish, on their web sites, ads that meet strict requirements regarding aesthetics, and – what’s most important – regarding the type of contents, their blatancy and user activity tracking. This important change was forced by consumers themselves, which also determines future communication and marketing strategies supporting sale of products or performance of services on the basis of individual behaviours and preferences of consumers”, stressed Maciej Sokołowski, Attention Marketing Partner.
According to 15 percent of the respondents, the web site of the manufacturer or service provider is a very credible source of information, while 25 percent of them found the web site a rather credible source of information about products and services.
“You could dare to conclude that for those Polish consumers who are considering a major purchase, sales communication from the manufacturer or service provider is the most credible when the company formulates it without resorting to commercial persuasion”, comments Dawid Michnik, Partner in Attention Marketing. “This may serve as a guideline for business decision-makers who formulate sales strategies: let’s talk directly to our Customers, let’s formulate the sales communication without resorting to the jargon of commercials and marketing persuasion focusing on convincing to buy. Let’s speak the language of benefits and let the customers find their way.”
Anna Grabara of PMR Consulting & Research also points out that the young respondents are more aware of the impact of ads on buying decisions. “Fewer of them reject advertising as such and they are more prone to admit that it does affect their buying decisions to a certain extent. At the same time, advertising is treated as only one of many information sources they will reach out to, but by no means is it the most credible. Ads, if properly formulated, placed in the right context and supplemented with other messages about the product, may be effective”, the expert says.
Business Appeals to People
Companies are traditionally divided into those operating in B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) models. The former manufacture products and provide services for business customers: companies or institutions. The latter target their offers at a broad spectrum of consumers. In the opinion of Dawid Michnik, Partner in Attention Marketing consulting firm, this division and traditional communication and sale tools resulting from it address the challenges of today’s fast changing market to a smaller and smaller degree.
“Each customer, whether a consumer or a manager selecting the contractor, is a conscious individual participating in the process of communication. When planning a major purchase, they often know what they need and are put off by shallow advertisements bluntly convincing them to make the purchase. They expect reliable information about the product or service, addressing their actual needs and
expectations,” says Dawid Michnik of Attention Marketing. “The growing awareness of consumers is accompanied by the evolution of methods of communication with those consumers. More and more often, the most mature organisations give up traditional B2B and B2C models to embrace B2H, or Business to Human model, which puts the target of the sale communication and their individual needs first.