Businesses are wasting time and money trying to reach people online without realizing many consumers resent big brands invading their social networks – according to research from TNS Canada, a Kantar company and part of WPP.
TNS’s Digital Life study is the most comprehensive insight into how 72,000 consumers – including 1,000 Canadians – behave online and why they do what they do. The study shows businesses across Canada and around the world are failing to develop social network profiles that speak directly to customers quickly and cheaply.
The study reveals that 54 per cent of Canadians do not want to engage with brands via social media – rising to 60 per cent in the US and 61 per cent in the UK. Canadians also engage less with brands online with only 28 per cent of digital consumers in Canada commenting on brands online compared to the global average of 47 per cent.
Although only 44 per cent of Canadians see social networks as a good place to learn about brands, this goes up considerably – to 81 per cent – when a friend recommends or endorses at brand.
Ron Caughlin, Vice President, Marketing and Digital at TNS Canada, said: “It’s a ‘Digital Wasteland’ out there – winning and maintaining brand loyalty is now harder than ever. Misguided digital strategies are generating mountains of digital waste, from friendless Facebook accounts to blogs no one reads, which is polluting the digital world and making it harder for brands to be heard. While the online world presents massive opportunity for brands, this requires tailored marketing strategies to realise this potential.”
TNS’s Digital Life study shows 39 per cent of Canadians who post comments on companies do so for the simple desire to share advice – with Romanians the most helpful online communicators (55 per cent).
Findings show that more Canadians like to praise than complain online (16 per cent vs 12 per cent), compared to Spaniards, who are the least likely to praise online, with just one in ten people saying that they would do so. Although Canadians are positive a lot they are still one of the most likely to complain about brands online (12 per cent) compared to 12 per cent in the US or 11 per cent in the UK.
Interestingly, motivations of online commentators can be self-serving as 59 per cent of Canadians are driven to engage with brands online by a promotion or special offer.
The study also reveals big geographic contrasts which highlight the risks of brands employing a catch-all approach that doesn’t take the needs of different consumers into consideration.
When examining global contrasts, TNS found that consumers in fast growth markets are incredibly keen to spend more time and money online than they currently do – presenting major growth opportunities for brands. Nonetheless, infrastructure challenges need to be overcome in these countries before businesses can really tap into the enthusiasm for the digital world.
48 per cent of people already online in fast growth markets would use the internet more if it was less expensive – rising sharply in Africa, to 81 per cent of people in Ghana, 71 per cent in Nigeria and 68 per cent in Kenya.
Likewise, while just a quarter (25 per cent) of Canadians see social networks as a place to buy products, this rises to 48 per cent across fast growth markets. Some of the most eager online consumers are found in India, where 59 per cent see social networks as a good place to buy products from brands.
And when it comes to online shopping habits, Asian consumers are leading the adoption of group buying and purchase via mobile. Almost half (46 per cent) of digital consumers in China already use group buying tools – in stark contrast to Canada where adoption rates are as low as 13 per cent.
Ron Caughlin added: “The key is to understand your local target audience and what they want from your brand – it could be that social networks aren’t always the right approach. If consumers in one market don’t want to be talked to, businesses should consider an alternative online method – e.g. creating owned digital media platforms, targeted sponsorship or search campaigns – to engage in an appropriate way that will achieve business results.”
The adoption of shopping via mobile is also on rise in the Canada – 13 per cent of mobile internet users in Canada shop on their phone compared to just two per cent in Egypt. However, Canada lags behind China and South Korea at 34 per cent. Interestingly, 10 per cent of mobile users also visit pre-purchase and browsing sites daily to research products
“There is a huge appetite for increased internet access and mobile services among consumers in fast growth markets. Digital Life shows that as online communities mature, brands that cut through the digital noise have fantastic potential to drive rapid growth from this nascent consumer base,” Ron Caughlin added.
TNS has made some of the key findings from this study available to the public via an interactive data visualisation developed in partnership with Digit London (UK).