How consumers perceive and interact with brands has changed a good bit in recent years. The ongoing digital transformation has spurred that change, and shoppers are heavily invested in ecommerce at this point – particularly since the pandemic started.
Fortunately, consumers speak their minds online, leaving breadcrumbs for brands that inform what they think and why they choose the brands they do. All those online interactions on review sites, social media, etc., add up to form your brand sentiment – and it’s vital to know where you stand so you can leverage your strong points and strengthen your weaknesses.
To that end, we’ll look at how to measure your brand sentiment and set your brand up for a successful 2022, with a focus on:
- How brand sentiment has changed
- What consumers want from brands
- How to measure and improve your brand sentiment
The following statistics indicate ongoing changes in consumer behavior. And developing strategies to improve your brand sentiment is the way to meet needs and get these consumers to choose your brand over another.
- The digitization of shopping has taken firm root in the consumer psyche, evidenced by the fact that 87% of shoppers turn to the internet to research products before they buy.
- In the US, 29% of consumers began using a new brand because of the company’s compassion and innovation amidst the coronavirus outbreak. The same is true in reverse.
- 89% of US consumers are more likely to support a profitable brand as long as they positively impact the world. And Gen Z and Millennials support these purpose-driven brands between 9-11% more than Gen X.
Improving your brand sentiment is a must if you want your brand to build relevancy going forward. Let’s sort out how that looks!
How Brand Sentiment Has Changed
Back in 2012, the way consumers interacted with brands looked a lot different. For one thing, social media channels were still the realm of friends and family for most people. Sure, consumers were researching brands and products online, but most were not engaging with brands on social media like they do today.
Aside from customer reviews, blog posts and traditional advertising was still how word got around. And social media was, in many respects, still figuring itself out. As such, it had not yet become the water cooler of brand gossip that we are now familiar with.
Nowadays, every brand has a social media presence, and consumers are adjusted to interacting with them on their social media feeds. Not only that, but with the speed of social, consumers are hip to new trends as they come along – which influence their purchasing decisions.
Consumers are voting with their dollars, and they know the collective weight they yield. They are digitally savvy, and that’s here to stay. They know what they want from brands and that they can communicate online and get heard. They expect that from brands, and they’ll quickly move on to a competitor if they feel ignored.
Additionally, they will talk loudly on social media about their experiences which gives us the digital format of brand sentiment – the evidence of consumer perception. The digital trail of consumer sentiment towards brands looms much larger now than it did just a few years ago. And that’s only a bad thing if your brand is not paying attention. You can’t fix what you don’t see.
Social listening allows brands to put their finger to the pulse of consumer perception. This level of access to the voice of the customer was a pipe dream in the days of traditional research methods. Now you can access your brand sentiment in real-time and adjust on the fly.
The collective consumer experience tells the tale of your brand sentiment. And digging into the conversations behind the numbers will tell you exactly what your customers want from your brand. Let’s talk about that.
What Consumers Want from Brands
Social listening gives us the most transparent picture of how consumers feel and which trends are growing in popularity. And we know that consumer perception and emerging trends are heavily intertwined. As such, social listening reveals that consumers are researching brands more than ever to find the ones that align with their values. And those values nurtured by emerging trends are the ones shaping the shifts in purchase intent.
That’s why brands need to know how their audience feels and what trends shape their behavior. Some trends are a flash in the pan, and others seemingly continue to grow in popularity indefinitely.
And just like the internet has made brands more accessible to consumers, it’s also raised awareness of social and environmental concerns. That being the case, consumers are watching brands like a hawk to see how they respond towards social issues and whether they are doing enough to safeguard the world we live in.
This is the marketplace we work in now. To ignore these trending issues is to dismiss what is top of mind with your audience. Aside from getting caught breaking the law, it’s also the quickest way to hamstring your brand sentiment.
So, let’s say your audience intelligence reveals that your consumers are leaning heavily into environmental concerns. In that case, it’s not enough just to pay lip service from time to time on social media. Consumers are on to that. They are looking for brands that have transparent initiatives in place that reduce their impacts on the planet. And you know what else works well? Educating your audience along the way, so they leave feeling better informed.
View this post on Instagram
Social and environmental issues are two of the biggest trends that consumers are interested in right now. And increasingly, they will not shop with brands that are tone-deaf or otherwise run afoul of their values. Therefore, if you want to grow your bottom line, it is imperative to monitor your brand sentiment.
How to Measure and Improve Your Brand Sentiment
Sentiment is one of the most impactful metrics you can use to monitor your brand health. Running a sentiment analysis at key intervals throughout the year allows you to establish a baseline, so you know where your normal is.
Artificial intelligence allows us to cast a wide net into the social media universe and capture every consumer soundbite relevant to our brand. It then assigns a value of 1 for positive sentiment, a 0 for neutral, and a -1 for negative statements. Sentiment is then placed as a percentage on a scale of -100 to 100.
So, if you run an analysis on your brand every month and your brand sentiment hovers around 80, you’ll know something is way off if it dips down to -10. And this is where monitoring your sentiment on a timeline for fluctuations comes in clutch. Whether you need to manage a crisis or capitalize on good press, a spike in either direction is worth looking into.
To improve your brand sentiment, it’s vital to have a running trend analysis and dig into your brand conversations to see which trends your audience aligns with. Doing so reveals consumer intelligence you can use to inform your messaging and innovation strategy.
As you implement changes based on consumer insight, your sentiment analysis will reveal changes in your brand narrative. And you’ll know you’ve hit the sweet spot when your baseline grows further into the green.
Additionally, it never hurts to see how your brand stacks up against others. And this is true of brands that share a focus on similar trends. They don’t even have to be in your vertical. For instance, the brand passion index below shows five sustainability-minded brands on a scatterplot measuring passion intensity (strong likes/dislikes) against net sentiment. Monitoring this over time will show whether your brand is making headway in the trends your audience cares about relative to like-minded brands.
Brand sentiment tells the story of how you fare in the court of public opinion. Top brands monitor it religiously to tailor their offerings to consumer demand and stay a step ahead of the competition.
Reach out for a demo, and we’ll help you hit the gas towards brand sentiment success in 2022!