Brand Reputation Matters in Online Purchase Decisions

March 25, 2022

This article is included in these additional categories:

Brand Loyalty & Purchase Habits | Brand-Related | Customer-Centric | Industries | Retail & E-Commerce | Spending Trends

It has been well established that brand trust is imperative in building loyalty, and can be both hard won and easily lost. The importance of brand trust reappears in research, this time in a survey by Salsify [access page], which found that a trusted brand name is the main reason that US shoppers have opted for a higher priced option when choosing between similar products online.

Some 46% of US respondents to the survey reported that they have chosen to pay more for a brand name they trust, with this being up from 30% who said the same in 2021. Likewise, this was the top reason for spending more on an item in both Great Britain and France, though in Germany it was only third among the list of factors identified.

Other reasons why US consumers have chosen a higher priced product include reduced shipping costs (30%) and quicker delivery (29%), a nod to the importance that shipping and delivery have in the online customer experience.

Product Quality Determines Reputation

When researching a company before buying from it, shoppers in the US are most likely to be found seeking information about product quality, per Salsify’s survey, with 54% of respondents reporting doing so. Product performance, and the extent to which products live up to their promise, are key factors when it comes to quality assessments, according to earlier research. Indeed, earlier reports show that maintaining brand promises and delivering good products can help maintain long-term relationships with customers, while poor product experience appears to be a main contributor when consumers switch brands or service providers. This is not new: back in 2016, research likewise found that for customers to be satisfied with brands, the marketing message needed to align with the value of the product and service itself.

Determining product quality through research can depend on a number of factors, including reviews, but understanding what’s on offer is also important. Some 41% of US shoppers surveyed said that the quality of images and product descriptions is one of their top-3 reasons for deciding where to shop, ranking this above product selection and loyalty programs, among others. Moreover, almost half said they would abandon a purchase if they couldn’t find relevant product information.

This again is supported by past research, in which detailed product descriptions and ample product images appeared atop a list of important elements of the online shopping experience for consumers.

Brands will need to keep these factors in mind as they adapt to pandemic-induced changes in consumer behavior. Separate results from Salsify’s survey indicate that the main change in shopping habits for US shoppers during the pandemic has been shopping online more of the time. And while most respondents expect to make purchases this year in-store, in-person (with this still the favored method over e-commerce), a majority will also buy on retail websites, as well as through other digital avenues such as third-party shopping services (e.g. Instacart), on direct brand sites, and through a search engine.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of more than 4,000 adult shoppers in the US, Great Britain, France and Germany, including 1,327 US adult (18+) shoppers.

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