After a half-decade of sluggish sales, news last month that large appliances (refrigerators, dishwashers and clothes washers and dryers) drove Lowe’s Q2 earnings up 4.5% is one of many recent signs of hope for manufacturers. As the economy recovers and improves, many of the un- or underemployed Millennials who were renting or living with their parents are finding work and moving into single-family dwellings and subsequently into the market for their first big-ticket appliance purchases. And, a warming housing market means contractors are seeking volume purchases for new construction.

But as opportunities increase, so does competition. In recent years, considerably less money is spent on big ticket appliances as more consumers focus on personal electronics, and online vendors, and the increasing number of consumers who trust them, have opened the door for foreign brands and boutique manufacturers to compete with big-name American brands. Add to these decreased brand loyalty among consumers; while name recognition and price were the most important factor in purchase decisions in the early 2000s, recent data suggests a shift:

  • 52% of consumers said user reviews of appliances are the most influential factor
  • 49% said comparing product specifications
  • 45% said finding a familiar brand or manufacturer
  • 31% said merchant rankings
  • Only 24% said lowest price

Although these trends will require significant shifts from the industry, they represent a tremendous opportunity for brands to reach more customers with a smarter approach to consumer marketing in organic search.

Place your brand in the direct line of researching consumers

Whether or not they complete it there, most (80%) of today’s consumers start their purchasing journey online, and 93% of online experiences start in a search engine, with more than 100 billion global searches being conducted each month. Google, which dominates the search market with 67% of desktop search traffic and 80% of mobile, processes 40,000 searches per second, every second of every day. Managing your presence in the organic search channel puts your brand directly in the path of consumers who are ready to buy, improving your consumer marketing efforts.

Memorialize the customer experience

As shown in the data above, online reviews have usurped brand recognition as the most important factor affecting consumers’ purchase decisions. Working with third-party review sites like ConsumerAffairs memorializes your customers’ experience high on search engine results pages (SERPs), giving potential customers peace of mind that their hard-earned dollars won’t go to waste.

One key and underutilized strategy to better market to consumers is leveraging customer insights to discover trends in purchases. Few could have predicted 10 years ago that there would be a demand for WiFi-connected appliances in harvest gold or avocado green. Yet, here we are. Listening to customer feedback helps your product team uncover demand for improvements, innovation or even the occasional throwback ahead of the curve.

The bottom line: social proof is a competitive advantage

In an industry where tighter consumer spending (4 in 10 online consumers purchased a home entertainment product, while only 22 percent of consumers purchased a laundry or kitchen appliance) coincides with increased competition, smart companies are leveraging social proof to gain a competitive advantage. To learn more about leveraging social proof in your consumer marketing strategy, check out ConsumerAffairs’ guide to social proof.