The IAB, the US trade association for the digital media and marketing industries, has released "Disrupting Brand Preference," a study that shows that disruptor brand shoppers comprise 48% of all US consumers. This article is copyright 2019 The Best Customer Guide.

These consumers are younger than incumbent brand-only shoppers, and are likelier to have a household income of more than US$75,000. In addition, direct-to-consumerbuyers use their favorite brands as vehicles for self-promotion, with twice as many compared to incumbent brand-only shoppers saying that they choose brands to express "who I am".

One in every three DTC brand shoppers are part of a new audience group identified by the study called "Super Influencers." These "Super Influencers" deliberately take time and effort to re-post and/or create brand-centric content to increase their own influence. The research makes clear that they are not sharing this content randomly. They are strategic and driven.

Other key findings from the study included:

  • DTC buyers find brand value in their ability to contribute ideas and feedback to brands and gain heightened visibility through their sizable communities
  • The "Facebook family" remains #1 for sharing brand attitudes - particularly by older, incumbent brand-only shoppers
  • Disruptor brands build consumer loyalty - as well as lifetime value- through cross-channel interaction
  • Search, shopping, and social media sites together are nearly equal to traditional TV for brand discovery
  • Influencers are the "advertising" of the modern consumer economy, and wield their greatest power during initial purchase consideration and further down the purchase funnel
  • Disruptor consumers expect 24/7 omnichannel access

"Unlike many traditional brands, direct brands and those disrupting the disruptors, have embraced consumers and built community. Today's consumer expects access and input into the companies they support," said Randall Rothenberg, CEO, IAB. "This deeper relationship not only shows up in loyalty, but actually perpetuates two-way value for both consumer and brand - in the creation of self-as-a brand and building brand awareness through influence."

"There is a tendency to think that the online social activities of younger consumers are incidental - frivolous. But they are not," said Sue Hogan, Senior Vice President, Research and Measurement, IAB. "The differences between disruptor brand consumers and incumbent-only shoppers are stark. For disruptor brand consumers, social behaviors are calculated and deliberate, feeding their need for self-expression."

"Disrupting Brand Preference" was sponsored by Google, PebblePost, Pinterest, and Spotify. The study's complete findings have been made available on the IAB's web site, here: