• October 28, 2022
  • By Max Flannery, cofounder and president, Adgile Media Group

Are Consumer Buying Behaviors Based on Conformity?

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Do consumers actually agree with the purchases they’re making, or are they just following a herd mentality? Research shows that it takes only 5 percent of a crowd to influence a group’s direction—and the other 95 percent follow the crowd without even realizing it. The secret to unlocking advertising’s full creative potential in today’s modern era comes down to harnessing the power of “herd mentality”—essentially, understanding what that 5 percent of influential consumers want and expect from a brand and then effectively converting them to customers. 

But how can brand advertisers do that? The art is in the authenticity of engagement.

First Step: Establishing and Maintaining Value to Consumers 

We see herd mentality every day, especially among younger generations. Consumers get captivated by the latest TikTok trend, and what was once a simple and silly digital short is now a movement. Those movements have the power to influence cultural trends and yes, buying behaviors, but ‘movements’ don’t only come from social media.

Generations beyond Gen Z aren’t impervious to herd mentality, although they may think so. Think of the huge followings behind Black Friday shopping, clothing trends, or investing, since most who invest tend to make decisions based on what certain stock their peers invest in. Herd mentality is seen in a variety of decision making across generations, from sports teams to the stock market. 

For brands to appeal to that 5 percent of consumers—the ones who have the power to influence and start a movement—they need to get on their level. Brands need to understand what makes this audience tick and make sure marketing campaigns are dialed into the mediums where the decision makers choose to show up and make their values and beliefs heard. Once a brand shows how it can contribute meaningful value to a consumer’s life, the beginning of a strong relationship will follow.

Consumers expect brands to know them and understand them. In the world we live in today, people are frustrated and block out most of the advertisements thrown at them because those ads don’t add value to their life. If your advertising isn’t relating to your target audience, then your ad spend is essentially for nothing. All advertising plans must include ways to reach consumers through a communal and genuine approach, for a higher chance to create a mutually beneficial relationship with consumers that leads to lower acquisition costs and revenue building. 

Step Two: Authentic Relationships Are the Basis of Success

Consumer buying behaviors can easily sway. Brand perception can easily turn negative if the brand-to-consumer relationship isn’t genuine. 

Too many brands today have gotten used to the “ask” or “take” approach of advertising that the internet has made so prominent. As consumers scroll social media, an ad will pop up from a brand asking the consumer to visit their site and (hopefully) purchase their product. This “taking” approach from brands is the reason that online advertising is becoming less effective as consumers begin to tune the ads out. 

The ideal marketing approach results in consumers discovering the brand in more organic ways (or at least ways that the consumer thinks is organic). This organic approach helps avoid consumers feeling as if a product is being pushed on them. 

The top 5 percent of consumers want to feel as if they are on the cutting edge. They want to be the cool ones who found a new brand that is not known. They want to think that purchasing your product was their decision, not yours. Encouraging customers to organically explore your brand after providing value to them is the key to capturing the herd. 

As far as the specific mechanics of this approach are concerned, the formats can run the gamut depending on the industry, but most of the approaches that we have seen work the best are real-world, not digitally based. From Tito’s brilliance at product positioning in physical establishments to Warby Parker’s approach of erecting brick-and-mortar retail locations before the demand was all the way there—these companies made consumers feel like they discovered a new brand, not the other way around.

  1. Understand your target customer.
  2. Provide consumers consistent value. 
  3. Position your brand in front of your audience organically.
  4. Watch the herd come to you.

In other words: give, give, give, take.

Max Flannery is the founder and president of Adgile Media Group.

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