For Online Retailers, Leveraging Brand Affinity Can Be Simpler Than It Seems

It’s no secret that brand affinity — a shopper’s preference for a particular brand — can be one of the most potent drivers of purchasing decisions. For retailers, leveraging brand affinity to influence shopper behavior is paramount for success.

But how is that done? How do you determine and factor a shopper’s brand affinities into merchandising decisions? Those questions have not always had simple answers, especially for retailers offering various products from many manufacturers.

After all, shoppers don’t typically share their preferred brands voluntarily, which means it can be a challeng to determine. Once you know a potential shopper’s brand preferences, it may not be clear how to put them to use to connect shoppers as efficiently as possible with the products they want. However, this shouldn’t discourage online retailers from leveraging brand affinity. On the contrary, online retailers can effectively consider brand preferences when configuring search, navigation, and other website features. Let’s examine the role of brand affinity in automated merchandising for e-commerce sites.

Brand Affinity Example

To illustrate the importance of understanding brand affinity in retail, consider a shopper who frequents your site and has purchased Nike shoes. Their purchase history reveals an apparent affinity for Nike. Now, let’s say your online store also sells apparel. When this shopper searches for tee shirts on your platform, you could strategically display Nike-branded tee shirts at the top of the product results. Doing so would likely capture their interest, increasing your chances of making a sale.

Therefore, when used alongside other data — such as the demographic cohort that a shopper belongs to and the price points associated with the shopper’s past purchases — brand affinity can play a crucial role in helping retailers connect shoppers with products they want to purchase.

With insights into brand affinity, retailers can go beyond merely highlighting similar products; they can also suggest new products that the consumer will likely find interesting.

How To Identify Brand Affinity in E-Commerce

Most shoppers don’t overtly reveal their brand preferences. Unless they use search filters to narrow down options by brand, customers rarely go out of their way to specify which manufacturers they prefer. So, it’s up to retailers to infer brand preferences by monitoring shopper behavior on their sites. Three critical types of data can help in this regard:

  • Product listing clicks: If shoppers repeatedly click on (or, depending on how you structure your site, hover over) product listings from the same brand to obtain more information about them, the behavior may signal a preference for that brand.
  • Cart history: Consistently adding a specific brand’s products to online shopping carts indicates brand affinity.
  • Purchasing history: If shoppers routinely purchase an item from a given brand, that’s a strong signal of affinity.
Online retailers should systematically track clicks, cart history, and purchasing records to gain insights into a shopper’s brand preferences.

Putting Brand Affinity to Use in Online Product Results

Once established, online retailers can leverage brand affinity by feeding it into tools that automate the experience of individual shoppers. This process works as follows:
  • Brand affinity is associated with an individual shopper who can be labeled using a username, user ID, or any other unique identifier.
  • It is then weighted against other shopper data, such as demographic cohort or geographic location, to determine products likely to be of greatest interest.
  • Website navigation displays and product search results are customized for the shopper based on the preferences identified in the previous step.
Using brand affinity can be a simple, automated, and scalable process, given the correct data and the right tools. The results for retailers can be significant because the easier it is for shoppers to find the products they want on a website, the more likely they are to make purchases.

Leveraging Brand Affinity in Merchandising

Unlocking the brand preferences of online shoppers need not be a guessing game. By tapping into the right data sources, online retailers can get an accurate read on which brands resonate with their customer base. Armed with this valuable insight, online retailers can formulate more effective merchandising strategies that serve both their customers and their bottom line.