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IBM’s 2011 Midmarket CMO Study: Sustaining Brand Loyalty With Today’s Social Consumer

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IBM is on a roll recently with its market research, and this go ‘round centers on the concerns of chief marketing officers (CMOs) in the midmarket (small-to-medium sized businesses).

CMOs from midsize firms are striking a better balance today between investing in solutions that drive efficiency and those that improve decision making, foster collaboration, and enhance customer relationships.

First, the headline: Building and sustaining brand loyalty is the top concern for midmarket CMOs, yet 72 percent of them are not sure how to effectively build this loyalty.

Additionally, 70 percent of these CMOs are concerned about data explosion, as they are tasked with making sense of highly complex information generated constantly from a variety of sources such as consumer blogs, Tweets, mobile texts, and videos.

Calgon, take me away!

The report also suggests that today’s CMOs need to be better prepared with an empowered consumer that is impacting brands instantly on Twitter, Facebook, and other social channels (Look no further than this week’s challenge that Bank of America faced when its Google+ channel was “brandjacked”!)

Sixty-one percent of midmarket are struggling with how to transform this shift into a business opportunity. Many CMOs are focused on understanding the markets versus understanding the individual consumer in order to shape marketing strategies.

Only 40 percent of midmarket CMOs are taking the time to understand and evaluate the impact of consumer generated reviews, blogs and third party rankings of their brands!

What’s the Problem?

The proliferation of social media and mobile devices is creating a new breed of consumer that is digitally savvy and is able to quickly compare and evaluate which products and services they want to buy.

Mobile commerce is expected to reach $31 billion by 2016, yet 62 percent of midmarket CMOs are not prepared to capture the business opportunity mobile commerce presents. This increase in the mobile shopping trend further increases marketing challenges, complicates data collection and analysis, and threatens both customer service and customer retention.

Like their peers in larger organizations, midmarket CMOs are also being held more financially accountable to their organizations to produce business outcomes at a faster pace.

The study also revealed that while midmarket CMOs believe ROI on marketing dollars spent will be the most important measuring stick for determining success of their business by 2015, the survey noted 72 percent of CMOs are unprepared for the plummeting level of brand loyalty.

Aside from current economic conditions, there’s an even bigger factor impacting brand loyalty.

Innovations in technology and the spread of social networking have provided buyers with new tools for discovering, comparing, evaluating, choosing and experiencing brands.

With the growth of social networks and a need for transparency, trust and personal exchanges between the consumer and the marketplace are now forming the cornerstone of small and midsize marketing efforts.

Everyday consumers are creating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data with 90 percent of the world’s data created in the last two years alone. Savvy marketers are gaining insight from social media and incorporating it into their strategies.

The key is predicting what consumers will want and then adapting marketing strategies to give them the right product when, where, and at what price they want it.

Today, retailers are embracing technologies such as analytics to make sense of massive amounts of data consumers are generating every single second to effectively target the individual consumer and enhance the shopping experience.

IBM Case Study: Lee Jeans Teams Works to Understand the Individual Consumer

Lee Jeans, one of the most recognizable apparel brands in the world faced the challenge of capturing and analyzing the huge volume of information being generated by a variety of sources before any merchandising decisions could be made on its website, Lee.com.

By adopting analytics technology, Lee employees now have the capability to quickly make informed decisions that will improve the consumer’s shopping experience.

Now, all the information that merchandisers need such as how well items sell, what is currently in stock and what consumers are saying through social media channels is organized into simple visuals that are shown over product thumbnail images on the Lee website.

With this visual layout that mirrors Lee.com, the merchandisers can easily move products around based on popularity and availability.

Merchandisers are able to see which products are being viewed most often and most importantly, which ones are being purchased most often. This ultimately allows the Lee team to display the site in a way that provides the best shopping experience for consumers.

Lee is now also able to obtain all product view data, online sales, abandonment rates and conversion rates to give Lee merchandisers a quick snapshot of product performance.  Lee is also capturing consumer sentiment data generated from social media channels such as Facebook and brand rating website Bazaarvoice.

Facebook ‘Likes’and Bazaarvoice ratings are also included in the tool at the product level and these insights are used to help with marketing and merchandising decisions.  Using social media and analytics Lee can now make faster and more informed merchandising decisions targeted at its customers with a simple click of the mouse

Go here for more information on the IBM Mid-Market CMO Study.

You can also register for the IBM Smarter Commerce webcast on Nov. 17 at 10am ET to learn more.

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