What can we learn from Amazon about the power of brand awareness and brand loyalty during the pandemic?
During such turbulent and unpredictable times brought by COVID-19, business owners unwittingly found themselves in crisis adaptation mode. The pandemic placed businesses under a test of dedication towards ethical business practice and corporate social responsibility.
According to Edelman Trust Barometer (2020), 52% of consumers agreed that brands must prioritise the well-being and financial security of their employees and their suppliers. During the pandemic, 60% of consumers turned more towards the brands they knew they could trust. Amazon had previously received some bad press concerning its employees’ treatment, which didn’t negatively impact consumer confidence in their brand during the pandemic, which leads to this discussion into the force behind Amazon’s branding.
The importance of Effective Brand Awareness and Brand Loyalty During the Pandemic
During the pandemic, competing for the consumer’s attention was at an all-time high. Brand loyalty and repurchase intention were and continue to be a priority. Brand awareness influences that same repurchase intention.
The prospect of the brand being remembered increases the likelihood of that brand being bought and reconsidered or prioritised for future purchase. Not only does brand awareness influence the decision-making process for first time purchase and initial engagement, but it also impacts preferred brand choice, or the consumers ‘evoked set’ of brands, which influences repurchase intention. The term ‘evoked set’ refers to your list of the preferred brands that immediately come to mind when considering the repeat purchase of a particular product.
Prior studies have shown that the higher the consumers’ awareness of a brand, the increased likelihood of it being the preferred choice when carrying out a purchase. And during the pandemic, when the consumer wasn’t able to consider alternatives, their choice likely depended on a recalled previous positive purchase experience with a brand.
Brand awareness affects the perception of a brand, which contributes towards overall customer satisfaction, leading to customer loyalty.
Loyal customers tend to be less influenced by competing brands and are less price-sensitive.
Why has Brand Preference been beneficial to Consumer Decision-Making During the Pandemic?
According to Howard and Sheth (1969), consumers store only relevant information and form a decision-making routine to simplify the process. The decision-making routine is formulated based on repeated positive brand experiences; hence the buyer has created strong brand preferences.
Brand awareness is a priority for businesses to exist in a consumer’s evoked set for when impulsiveness emerges.
There are many published arguments online supporting the above statement. It is based on the concept that consumers eliminate as many stages as possible of the decision-making process at the time of purchase when they repeatedly buy a product. Consumers accordingly apply rapid and effortless choice tactics to reach a satisfactory purchase outcome, reinforcing the importance of simplifying the consumer experience to achieve client satisfaction and repeat custom.
Take the Success of Amazon, for example…
Choice simplification is often a critical influencing factor behind consumers choosing to purchase via an online marketplace, such as Amazon. Let’s look at how Amazon has, in essence, achieved and maintained preferred brand status in the evoked-set of the consumer, even during the pandemic.
Choice Simplification as offered by Amazon
The big-tech giant has realised this through simplifying the consumer purchase experience and limiting the demands upon – and the number of actions carried out by – a consumer when making a purchase. Therefore, taking the entire process a step further by establishing the decision-making routine for and on behalf of the buyer.
Recollection of positive consumer experiences helps to reinforce the awareness of the brand that provided it. And during the pandemic where trust, speed, price sensitivity and convenience were – and still are – prioritised (Edelman Trust Barometer, 2020), prior positive consumer experience strengthens the decision to repurchase from the same brand.
The complete buying process that traditionally consisted of:
- Locating a store
- Travelling to the store
- Browsing products
- Finding and engaging with a representative
- Choosing the product
- Paying at the counter, and
- Travelling home
then evolved into the online process of:
- Conducting research via Google
- Selecting and comparing against multiple websites
- Navigating differing website interfaces
- Negotiating the trust factor associated with offering personal and financial information
- Refining another search within a chosen website
- Finalising a purchase, and
- Waiting for a delivery
Amazon then took this an impressive step further by simplifying and streamlining for the consumer, the sequence of total actions required to carry out a single purchase all within one platform and one-click, therefore the customer is likely to remember this simplified process and associate it with the Amazon brand and re-engage at the time of repurchase. We could reach the assumption that for the satisfied Amazon customer, there would be no reason to search or shop outside of the Amazon platform.
The effectiveness of Amazon’s already established Brand Recall, during the Pandemic
Amazon were able to deploy the power of their Brand Recall to work to their advantage during a global crisis.
The COVID-19 pandemic created supply-chain disturbance for certain products and brands. When consumers couldn’t use their preferred retailer to satisfy their demand, this caused their shopping behaviour to change (stats from McKinsey, 2020). Since its incorporation in 1994, Amazon has consistently and Innovatively met the challenges brought by the change in customer behaviour by addressing consumers who are already logged in and ready to buy, with such advances as targeted, personalised messaging and product recommendations.
Mark Mahaney, a renowned veteran Internet Analyst, honoured Amazon during the pandemic by voicing how they will emerge from the crisis winning. They will strengthen from the ever-weakened position of physical retail, proclaiming Amazon to be best positioned to handle such a surge in demand. Amazon is fulfilling its ambition to become the provider of everything for everyone. With consumers even more reliant on its vast offering of products and services, Amazon will emerge more robust than ever. The supply-chain disturbance brought by the pandemic led many consumers to try a different provider to their preferred retailer, who perhaps wasn’t able to perform and fulfil the consumer’s requirements. And with value, availability and convenience being the main drivers behind this (stats from McKinsey, 2020), Amazon was perfectly positioned and ‘primed’ at the forefront of the consumer’s mind.
Unaided brand recall is a marketing technique used to determine how effective branding is without naming the brand itself. If, for example, a consumer is asked a question such as “which online retailer can you source batteries from?” or “which online retailer offers next day delivery?”. If the consumer is to instantly think of Amazon without having heard or seen the brand, this is a testament to the recall power of the Amazon brand. Interestingly, batteries are on the list of top-selling electronic products on Amazon since the pandemic outbreak (Amazon Best Sellers).
However, an example of aided brand recall would be where the Amazon brand is named within the question asked or when offered cues like “Do you know the Amazon brand?” or “Do you have an Amazon Prime account?”.
The effectiveness of Amazon’s already established Brand Recognition, During the Pandemic
Brand recognition is where a customer is led to recall a brand through branding cues or visuals. For example, where a person can recognise the Amazon brand when seeing an Amazon delivery van. The logistical division of Amazon portrays – through a slogan on their website – “delivering smiles to customers across the community”. The precise wording of the Amazon brand isn’t written on its delivery vehicles. However, this slogan is a clever play on the logo, which depicts a smile emblem. When seeing this smile emblem on an Amazon van, the brand is identified without the Amazon name being present. How a consumer acknowledges and distinguishes the Amazon brand based on branding elements alone is also a testament to the force behind Amazon’s brand recognition strategy.
With its delicate balance between apt brand recall and brand recognition, Amazon has arguably achieved ‘prime’ positioning in the ‘evoked set of most mid-pandemic consumers. Whilst Amazon has been able to perform brand dominance as an e-commerce marketplace, what does this mean for other brands and e-commerce businesses?