New research underscores importance of internet for food and beverage brands

Posted by James Ferre on 19th June 2009

The online consumer has a much stronger relationship with brands than the average shopper, according to new research.

Online sales continue to grow despite the recession, highlighting the significance of the digital consumer. This is underscored by new research from Millward Brown, who analysed WPP’s BrandZ database (the largest repository of brand knowledge in the world) and found that digital consumers have, on average, a 15 per cent stronger relationships with brands than non-digital consumers.

In the food and beverages sector, the greatest discrepancy between relationships with brands came for spirits – where digital consumers had a 16% stronger relationship. Beers (12%), fast-food (12%), mineral water (9%), grocery stores (7%) and soft drinks (5%) all also had preference amongst digital consumers.

Another key finding was that digital consumers are more than twice as likely to be “transmitters” – knowledgeable category consumers who influence others with their opinions – highlighting the need of businesses to understand the power of the internet and use it to effectively build their brand.

“It seems that digital consumers are simply more interested in brands. Digital research and purchasing helps develop brand knowledge, which then further reinforces brand interest,” Peter Walshe, Global Brand Director at Millward Brown said.

This is a global phenomenon, since digital consumers have stronger relationships in all 24 countries examined by the report.

The report highlights that to understand digital consumers more thoroughly, marketers need to evaluate category-specific and country specific definitions.

“Brand and marketing managers need to understand the relationship digital consumers have with their brands as well as how it compares against their key competitors before they can effectively plan their digital marketing strategies,” Mr Walshe concluded.