If you want to build your brand in the UK, there’s plenty of opportunity to be had. Here’s how to give British customers what they want.
In the shadow of Brexit, consumer confidence in the UK has certainly taken a hit. But beyond the troubling headlines, there are some good reasons to be optimistic about British business, particularly for US brands wanting to reach British consumers.
For example, 86% of the UK population uses the internet every day, spending almost six hours online. In the last month alone, 86% of the UK’s internet users searched for a product online, with 81% making a purchase. That’s a huge conversion rate – and a massive potential customer base for consumer brands.
While online shopping trends are positive, all is not lost for brick and mortar retail either. It’s still important for British consumers – especially when it comes to considering high value purchases. Many British shoppers value in-person payment and finance options.
But to maximize on the opportunity, it’s important to consider UK consumer behavior. 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 engage British consumers.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT PRICE POINT
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% of British online shoppers start their purchasing journey on Amazon. 51% of Brits believe Amazon offers the cheapest prices – and 75% price-check in-store products on Amazon.
This means three things for brands looking to grow in the UK:
1. BE COMPETITIVE ON PRICE
Keep your pricing as low as possible and be sure you can prove the value, and values, of your product.
2. AMAZON IS UNAVOIDABLE
86% of Brits shop on the site. If you aren’t selling your products there, your competitors almost certainly are. Read more about Amazon selling here.
3. BUILD AN OMNICHANNEL STRATEGY
Brick and mortar retail still has value. 70% of Amazon shoppers research products in-person before buying online. 28% of shoppers like to look at an item in a physical store before purchasing. And 32% prefer paying in person. So, depending on what your UK presence looks like, it may be worth promoting your product and providing an excellent customer experience in-store. Then make sure you’re hitting the right price point online.
BUILD LOYALTY WITH UK CONSUMERS
65% of UK consumers claim to be loyal shoppers – above the global average of 61%. So think beyond short-term sales goals and cultivate connections with British consumers. It’ll pay off in the long term.
Forming one-to-one relationships with British customers through personalized services, social media advertising, or unique in-store experiences can be a good strategy.
Loyalty programs are also popular. 73% of 18-24-year-olds in Britain 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 rewards. And keep in mind that for Brits loyalty programs are no substitute for a great customer experience.
This drive for customer experience in the UK taps into the emerging trend of buying experiences over stuff. It’s particularly prevalent among millennials and Gen Z. Instead of selling a product, focus on the lifestyle aspect of your brand. (For this, you’ll need to learn as much as you can about your target audience.)
And don’t be afraid to shout about how you’re making the world a better place. 68% of British consumers consider a brand’s ethical behavior before buying. That includes how you treat employees, supply chain logistics, environmental policy, and animal welfare.
Although being ethical offers some flexibility with pricepoint (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 altruism to justify pricing products too high.
TARGET SPECIFIC UK REGIONS
UK consumers respond well to advertising campaigns, especially on social media. 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 advertising content, the UK is an interesting prospect. It’s highly urbanized, but places great value on country living. The countryside and the sleepy village, for example, are seen as quintessentially British and highly appealing depending on your target audience and what lifestyle aspects are relevant to your brand.
The UK is also very culturally diverse across different regions. 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 that much of it would 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 the brand also created regional versions for Birmingham, Leeds, London, and Manchester. This helped the ad to truly resonate with their target audience.
Both of these campaigns generated national press coverage in the UK, so taking a hyper-localized approach can be a win-win. When creating your ad campaigns, consider whether this tactic is something your marketing strategy should incorporate.
Ultimately, UK consumer behavior is consistent with many other international markets. Brits want to feel valued, be aligned with a brand’s values, and get value for money. Strike a balance between these three value areas while taking into account British culture and language, and you’ll be set up for success with British consumers.