Challenger Brands Understand How Consumer Behaviour is Changing – Global Players Must React Fast


A sea change is underway in the world of consumer brands. The craft beer boom a decade ago showed that while the previous generation of consumers trusted the brands they knew best and convenience was king, today, people look for very different values in companies to which they pledge their loyalty.

Authenticity is now the order of the day; consumers want products which are local, original and most importantly, trustworthy. The most established global brands, which for decades enjoyed a monopoly market, now find themselves losing share to a new crop of start-ups which intuitively understand consumers’ desire for this authenticity and have quickly responded.

Challengers like Graze, Dollar Shave Club, Fever-tree and scores of others created more sustainable products that come with an interesting back story. Unlike the biggest brands, these challengers show empathy with their consumers by using the same language and tone, and as a result, have taken the market by storm and the global players by surprise.

While the largest companies are utilising a range of strategies to regain their market share – M&A, new product lines, cost-cutting – they face an unfortunate inevitability: without more accurate audience insights, adapting to a market disrupted by the challenger brands will prove difficult.

New innovations, however, may change the game. For the first time, it’s possible to combine technology with psychological insights to profile consumers in ways marketers of the past would never have thought possible. Using advanced AI capabilities, companies can now gain an in-depth understanding of their customers’ personality type, communication style, what’s important to them and how they feel – in real time.

Actionable data on who we are has never been more readily available. Social media, blogs, reviews, customer satisfaction surveys – they all paint a picture of how we perceive the world around us.

Companies can harness this data to create accurate psychological profiles of customer groups, identifying distinguishable personality traits and interests.

The smartest companies will translate this insight into more effective marketing that displays the empathy challenger brands have used to such great advantage, crafting messages that resonate with consumers by tapping into their mind set and using their language.

By segmenting customer populations based on personality, communications can be highly personalised to ensure precisely the right message reaches the right person on the right channel. It’s a key opportunity to talk to customers in the same way challenger brands do and redefine perceptions of global products en masse.

At Symanto, we lead companies to success by using AI tech to provide them with deep audience insights based on psychology. A global consumer goods company, for example, sought to improve an international campaign for one of their most important product lines. That meant understanding what motivates different customers to make a purchase.

A semantic analysis using deep natural language processing showed that this company’s customers could be segmented into two main personality types: those who identified with content focussed on product performance with a rational tone, and those with content focussed on product design with an emotional tone. The resulting shift in marketing strategy, appealing directly to the two groups in the way that resonated most, led to a 33% increase in email open rate and a consequent increase in sales of more than double. 

Limits to the potential of this solution are few; psychological insights can be utilised at scale to improve customer engagement in any sector. With big-budget advertising no longer a necessity to reach large audiences, creating messaging that resonates has become crucial. Challenger brands have so far gained the edge in achieving that – but by combining AI with psychology, the global players may yet win back their share.