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Global e-commerce communities and marketplaces such as Amazon, Alibaba and eBay are revolutionizing and reinventing the global retail marketplace, believe a majority (56%) of brand marketers, according to a report [download page] from the CMO Council.

The main attractions that brand marketers feel that the online marketplaces offer consumers are their ease of product search and discovery, their 24/7 convenience, and their lower prices and pricing transparency.

But while they can help branded product marketers and advertisers reach vast number of active buyers and sellers, brand marketers are worried that these marketplaces cannibalize from traditional retail channels and employ monopolistic business practices.

As a result of the continued growth of these communities, almost half of brand marketers have been forced to rethink how they go to market. And the main way marketers are tinkering their approach? By seeking greater brand differentiation.

How Will Marketers Achieve Brand Differentiation?

The survey, fielded among 200 brand marketers, asked respondents how they’re looking to differentiate their brands in the digital retail marketplace.

The leading way is to use richer, more visually engaging content, cited by 42% as one of their top 3 methods. This shift to more visual content makes sense, given that consumers reportedly find visual content slightly more important than written content on e-commerce sites. Visual imagery is particularly critical for mobile shoppers, and as such is only likely to grow in importance as mobile takes a greater share of retail sales.

Content may also be a differentiator for brand marketers as it’s not considered one of the key areas of appeal currently provided by large marketplaces. Indeed, richer, more relevant content was in the bottom half of the factors that brand marketers believe make online marketplaces compelling and attractive to consumers.

Beyond richer, more visually engaging content, brand marketers also pointed to other potential areas of differentiation, including:

  • Smarter use of customer data and shopper intelligence;
  • More compelling and persuasive brand narratives; and
  • Simpler, quicker and more convenient ways to find and shop the brand.

The analysts point out that while smarter use of customer data could be a key differentiator, few respondents see the ability to source shoppergraphic insights as a key benefit provided to them by online marketplaces.

The full CMO Council report is available to download here.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 200 brand marketers across industries, close to two-thirds (65%) of whom are from companies with more than $50 million in revenues. Some 62% work at companies headquartered in North America.

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