Meet the CorpSumer: Powerful sector prioritizing reputation over product

by | Jul 24, 2017 | Public Relations

Important new research from MWWPR has identified a significant, growing segment of the population that is critical to brands across all industries—the CorpSumer, which represents one in three Americans who have a demonstrated track record of basing their behaviors on corporate reputation rather than just product features, attributes and price.

More than just saying that company reputation is important (like 75 percent of Americans), CorpSumers act on it, going beyond brand advocacy to brand activism, whether for or against you—and communicators need to rethink the ways they target and engage with this massive sector.

This segment was identified through primary research commissioned by MWWPR and conducted by Wakefield Research, demonstrating that nearly 100 million Americans look to corporate reputation to determine not only the products they buy, but also the companies they invest in, do business with and work for.

The CorpSumer segment is significant from a simple sales and market share perspective, but their true value is in their influence of others and their ability to make change, move attitudes and markets. Part advocate and part objector, CorpSumers are the “influencers next door” whose brand activism changes the opinions and behaviors of their friends and families.

MWWPR Meet the CorpSumer: Powerful sector prioritizing reputation over product

More than half of CorpSumers regularly use their social media channels to share their opinions about news, current events, and cultural issues including companies and brands several times a week. Most striking was the loyalty of the CorpSumer to companies that they believe in—more than half (51 percent) will stick with a product that has disappointed them because they believe in the company or share its values.

“At MWWPR, we have always believed that corporate reputation and consumer brand loyalty go hand in hand.  This research does more than simply prove that theory, it demonstrates the profound significance of this segment to drive business,” said MWWPR chair of reputation and chief strategy officer Carreen Winters, in a news release. “CorpSumers are market makers and market movers—they vote with their wallets, their investment portfolios and their careers. They love deeply and hate with vitality, and pride themselves on influencing others. Companies that effectively harness the power of CorpSumers will outpace the competition in market share, brand loyalty, activism and amplification.”

As companies struggle to understand the lifetime value of a customer, there is an increasing body of evidence that customers become increasingly valuable over time, and pay their highest dividend when they become evangelists and advocates. According to Harvard Business School Press, a 12-percent increase in advocacy represents a 200-percent increase in revenue growth—making the CorpSumer one of the highest value-generating segments. Advocates spend 2x more than average customers on favorite brands (JitBit), accounting for $6 trillion in annual spending and a loyal customer is worth up to 10x the value of their first purchase, making the loyalty and activism of the Corpsumer a powerful combination to fuel growth for brands.

“Corpsumers bring together two of the most valued attributes of any customer – loyalty and activism—providing a one-two punch for growth in an increasingly competitive market,” Winters added.  “Corpsumers represent the ultimate example of the increasing value of a customer over a lifetime, both in terms of their own purchases and in the new customers they help brands acquire through their advocacy and activism.”

One of the largest consumer segments

CorpSumers are a larger target audience than millennials, Moms, and many other segments that brands are targeting today. Demographically, CorpSumers cross the boundaries of both gender and generation, and they hit the sweet spot for brands on income, education and family status. They are more likely than the average American to be well-educated, employed full time, high income earners and parents.

From a psychographic perspective, CorpSumers are optimistic and highly engaged. They are interested in knowing about companies and believe they are positive change agents. In fact, 53 percent say that a company has a greater ability to make positive change in the world than government.

CorpSumers report that their interest in a company’s reputation and values guide their decision making across all sectors and industries, and demonstrated significant reliance on their view of the entire company when making decisions about automobiles, financial services, healthcare and food—both for in home consumption and dining out. In these sectors, more than 75-85 percent cite the importance of corporate reputation to their behaviors and choices.

The CorpSumer premium

CorpSumer engagement with a company pays dividends in the areas of pricing, loyalty and evangelism. Sixty-seven percent of CorpSumers are willing to pay full price for a product when they believe in the company, particularly if the company shares their personal values or supports issues that are important to them. And half of CorpSumers report a track record of sticking with products that have disappointed them because they supported other things a company does.

“CorpSumers are the modern equivalent of the reputation goodwill bank, but with exponentially more influence, demonstrating product and brand loyalty in the face of a problem or dissatisfaction with a particular product or service experience,” said Michelle Gordon, MWWPR senior vice president of research and insights, in the release. “CorpSumers are also highly influential in social media, broadcasting their support or distaste without hesitation.  Cultivating understanding and support for your company’s overall mission, vision and values is an investment that will pay dividends in good times, and in the face of a crisis.”

Eighty-nine percent of CorpSumers are likely to share positive news about companies, but 78 percent are also likely to share negative news about companies and they are eager to encourage or dissuade their peers from supporting a brand:

  • 76 percent of CorpSumers have encouraged someone to buy a product or service because they wanted them to support the company that is making the product
  • 74 percent have encouraged someone to give up or not use a product mainly because of the company’s reputation

“Shared values are the currency of CorpSumer engagement, and it is never too late to engage the CorpSumer,” Winters concluded. “This segment is continually evaluating companies and looking for the ones that best reflect their values and priorities. In fact, 63 percent of CorpSumers report switching brands because they want to support something another company is doing. CorpSumers over-index in their reliance on news media to formulate opinions, are active users of social media for brand activism, and rely on content to underscore their opinions, making public relations the ideal vehicle for engaging the CorpSumer. The key is knowing how to identify them, when, where and how to engage them and ultimately how to activate them on your behalf.”

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter