After being stuck at home for months on end, over half of consumers say they’re ready to travel. As these consumers emerge from isolation, it’s important to consider how their preferences and expectations have changed. It’s also important to consider how shifting market conditions are influencing their behaviors and purchase decisions. For example, what impact does airfare cancellation have on existing travel plans or future travel intent?
Month-to-month tracking studies have focused on such areas of consumer behavior and the findings highlight some important trends; one of which is the willingness to travel long distances by car.
According to pulse surveys conducted by MMGY Global, respondent willingness to drive 300+ miles for a leisure trip rose from 29% in July to 42% in August. The implications of this increase are wide-ranging because as travel distance becomes less of a purchase barrier, a brand’s prospect audience can expand. Also, regardless of the ultimate destination, a long-distance road trip means there will be stops along the way and opportunities for brands to become part of the journey.
This presents an incredible opportunity for brands to expand their reach, attract new customers, and engage existing customers through targeted messaging and special offers. In order for this approach to be effective, the messaging and offers must be timely and relevant to the intended audience; and that’s what I’d like to discuss. Here are a few ways brands can capitalize on the opportunities the rising consumer willingness to drive long-distances:
Brand Awareness Study
Remember when that person came up to you at the party and introduced themselves even though you’ve already met like five times? Yeah, that’s what it’s like for customers when they receive awareness messaging from a brand they’re already aware of. This not only reflects poorly on the brand and indicates they’re not really paying attention, it’s wasted time and resources.
When entering a new market, or refreshing your understanding of markets where you’re already competing, take a moment to establish the level of current brand awareness. If the target audience has never heard of your brand, then you know to introduce yourself to that market segment. If the target audience is already aware of your brand, then you can skip that step and go right into relationship building. Either way, you can develop and launch a targeted marketing campaign that is aligned with the current state of the market.
Brand Perception Study
The reality of your brand sits within the mind of the consumer. Regardless of how clear, concise, and creative you believe your messaging has been, the customer’s perception is your reality. For that reason, it’s not only your marketing efforts but the marketing efforts of your competitors that are shaping your brand’s identity. The only way to be sure of how you’re seen within the competitive market is to ask the target audience.
Once you’ve established that a customer is aware of your brand, it’s safe to say they have an opinion about your brand. Even if they’re unsure or confused by what you offer, that in itself is a perception. By connecting with customers to understand how they perceive your brand, any ensuing marketing efforts can be developed from that specific starting point.
If the value of your brand is unclear to customers, a targeted message can change that. If your brand is thought to be inferior in certain areas, a targeted message can change that. Ultimately it boils down to knowing where you currently stand within the mind of consumers and shaping marketing campaigns to realign or reinforce their brand perception.
Having up-to-date brand awareness data provides a bank of valuable insights for short-term and long-term initiatives. The short term will guide campaign messaging content; the long term will be a point of reference to track and measure brand awareness progress over time.
Regularly monitoring brand perception will establish benchmarks to gauge the effectiveness of specific marketing campaigns. Knowing the current perception of a target market, another pulse survey taken after a targeted message is delivered will determine whether or not that message was effective in producing the desired perception shift.
Merging these two data sets and regularly refreshing with current data will provide an ongoing source of marketing effectiveness insights. Whether it’s in reference to broad marketing campaigns, targeted initiatives, or specific branded content, you’ll have the information needed to quantify impact and assess ROI of all your projects.
While the initial focus of this article was on the travel and leisure industry, these concepts and principles apply to brands of any size, in any industry. For the past 35 years, we’ve been refining our approach to converting customer feedback into actionable insights. In doing so, we empower our clients to evolve their brand and achieve results that matter.
If you’re in the travel and leisure industry and want to capitalize on growing consumer interest, let us know. We’re ready to get started.