The UK may be confusing right now – but UK consumer behaviour isn’t. And there are still good reasons for your brand to launch in the UK. Here’s how to give British customers what they want.

Baffled by the UK?

We live here and we’ve no idea what’s going to happen – soft Brexit, hard Brexit, no Brexit? We wouldn’t blame you if you’d second thoughts about expanding into the UK. Maybe now is not the right time?

But don’t abandon us just yet. It’s true, consumer confidence has taken a hit. But beyond the apocalyptic headlines, there are some good reasons for brands to be optimistic.

86% of the UK population uses the internet every day, spending almost six hours online. In the last month, 86% of the UK’s internet users searched for a product online, with 81% going on to buy something. That’s a huge conversion rate – and a massive potential customer base for your brand.

All is not lost for the high street either. It’s still important for British consumers – especially for research and payment purposes.

But to capitalize on this, you’ll need a strong understanding of UK consumer behaviour. Brand loyalty is high, but so are expectations. Prices should be low, but not at the expense of ethics. To succeed, you’ll need to balance these conflicting demands. Here’s how to give the British what they want (even if they don’t know it yet).

THE PRICE IS RIGHT

Price is a key deciding factor for 59% of British shoppers. So it’s not surprising price comparison is widespread – 35% of UK shoppers use comparison sites for that purpose.

It also explains why 38% start their purchasing journey on Amazon. 51% of Brits believe it offers the cheapest prices – and 75% price-check in-store products on Amazon.

This means three things for your brand:

1. Be competitive on price.
Keep your pricing as low as possible and prove the value of your product.

2. Amazon is unavoidable.
86% of Brits shop on the site. If you aren’t selling your products there, someone else is. Check out our advice on Amazon selling here.

3. Build an omnichannel strategy.
Don’t shut down your stores just yet. 70% of Amazon shoppers research products elsewhere before buying on the site. 28% of shoppers like to look at an item in a physical store before purchasing. And 32% prefer paying in person. So promote your product and provide an excellent customer experience in-store. Then make sure you’re hitting the right price point on Amazon.

Stay tuned for our upcoming blog on UK e-commerce for more on optimizing your brand’s online potential.

FAITHFULLY YOURS

65% of UK consumers claim to be loyal shoppers – above the global average of 61%. Don’t focus purely on short-term sales goals. Instead, cultivate connections with your customers. It’ll pay off in the long term.

How?

Champion one-to-one relationships with your British customers. This can be through personalized services, social media advertising or unique in-store experiences.

Loyalty schemes are also popular. 73% of 18–24-year-olds think they’re a good way for brands to reward customers. 59% think all brands should offer one. It’s not all about discounts though – cashback, gift cards and physical rewards are all more popular types of reward. And don’t be fooled. A loyalty scheme is no substitute for good customer experience. Just ask ASOS.

This drive for excellent customer experience taps into the new trend of buying experiences over things. It’s particularly prevalent among millennials and Gen Z. Instead of selling a product, focus on selling your brand as an essential part of your customers’ lifestyles. (For this, you’ll need to learn as much as you can about your target audience.)

Don’t be afraid to shout about how you’re making the world a better place. 68% of British consumers consider brands’ ethical behaviour before shopping with them. That includes how you treat employees, supply chain logistics and animal welfare.

But be warned. Although being ethical gives you some flexibility with price (half of UK consumers are willing to pay more for ethical brands), for 78% of UK consumers, cost remains the most important purchasing factor. Don’t use your altruism to justify pricing yourself out of the market.

STAY LOCAL

UK consumers respond well to advertising campaigns, especially on social media. It’s not just useful for brand building – they’ll boost sales too. 40% of those who’ve interacted with a brand online spend more as a result.

When it comes to content, the UK is peculiar. It’s highly urbanized, but places great value on country living. The countryside and the sleepy village, for example, are seen as quintessentially British. This is an area you could consider tapping into to dial up your British creds. (Again, you’ll need to have defined your customers and prospects.)

Bear in mind the UK is very diverse. There are big differences between Londoners and Glaswegians, for example. And what resonates in one area may fall flat in another. Brands have been combating this by launching hyper-localized campaigns. Nike’s ‘Nothing Beats A Londoner’ ad is a fantastic example of its city-focused strategy. The entire ad is dedicated to life in London – to the extent much of it will be lost on non-Londoners.

HSBC adopted a similar approach with their ‘We are not an island’ campaign. The ad ran throughout the UK, but they also created specific versions for Birmingham, Leeds, London and Manchester. This helped the ad resonate more deeply with key parts of their target audience.

Both of these campaigns generated national press coverage, so taking a hyper-localized approach won’t necessarily limit your reach. When creating your campaign, consider whether this tactic is something your target audience would appreciate.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Ultimately, UK consumer behaviour is not that different from elsewhere. Brits want to feel valued, be aligned with a brand’s values and get value for money. Get the balance right between these three value areas, and you’ll soon build up a loyal British customer base.

Need a hand preparing your brand for launch in the UK? Get in touch – we’d love to help.

Photo by meredith hunter on Unsplash

ABOUT Isabel Evans

Busy studying for my Master’s in Cognitive and Decision Sciences at UCL, I’m fascinated by how and why people do things. As well as researching and writing for Wordbank, I love learning about culture and was in my element living and studying in Paris.

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