Survey: Consumers eye quality, experience

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Consumers want brands that provide consistent quality, a study based on a Roper Reports survey found.
Prior experience with a brand tops the list when deciding whether to buy something, so a first impression is a lasting one for consumers.
"Past experience remains the top-ranked factor, as it has been in all 10 readings taken since 1975," the study said. "It lost ground during the experimental years of the late 1990s and early 2000s but has returned to a level more typical of earlier years, with 83 percent saying it's among the most important factors in their brand decisions."
The analysis is based largely on a GfK Roper Reports U.S. in-person survey of 2,002 adult Americans conducted in August and September.
The experiences of others and their recommendations are crucial as well. Word of mouth is more important than it's been since the late 1980s, the report found.
Quality is growing more important, too. Consumers will buy things from brands that have worked for them in the past. But if something goes wrong and they are not satisfied, they move to another brand. For the first time since 1995, quality compared among brands outweighed price in a consumer's purchase decision.
Marketing a brand requires understanding how people choose brands, as certain elements have special relevance for specific consumer segments, the report found. Northeasterners rate experience as vital, with 95 percent citing it compared with 79 percent of Midwesterners. Men and baby boomers look at reputation.
"These two groups place more emphasis than average on a manufacturer's reputation for quality," the report said. "[I]t just about ties with price for third place for both groups of shoppers, while ranking a decided fifth for women and younger adults."
The report suggests that Americans are less willing to experiment than they were a few years ago and more likely to stick with familiar brands. Though this is less true among young adults, it poses a threat to new brands trying to win over an older audience.
"All segments share the conviction that past experience with a brand is the single best way to decide whether or not to buy it in the future," the report said. "Even among Generation Y consumers, 75 percent agree that past experience is important. Coupled with the idea of quality, this means that existing brands have to stay on their toes."

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