LONDON: Brands risk forgoing the opportunity of building lasting relationships with consumers because they remain too focused on customer acquisition rather than retention, a new survey has revealed.

According to a survey of 1,000 UK consumers by OLIVER, an in-house agency, the great majority feel closest and most engaged with a brand either post-purchase, or beyond the point of traditional above-the-line advertising.

The largest proportion (38%) say they feel most engaged when they are already using a brand's product, while around a quarter (23%) say it is when they visit a brand's website, and a fifth (21%) when they go to a store and speak to a sales assistant.

However, the survey highlighted generational differences because 43% of those aged 55+ say they feel most engaged with a brand after purchasing and using a product, but this drops to 30% of consumers aged 18-24 and 29% of 25-34-year-olds.

"These results are interesting because they show that by the time consumers are properly engaged, their exposure to brand advertising has already long passed," said Sharon Whale, CEO at OLIVER Group UK.

"When you visit a brand's website you're often likely to have already bought from them via a third-party retailer," she continued.

"Similarly, if you're talking to someone in-store, something has probably inspired you to reach that stage. It begs the question, if brands are spending heavily on the path to purchase, and opening conversations with consumers, why not do more to keep those conversations open post-purchase?"

But post-purchase engagement has to be handled carefully because the survey also revealed the main reasons why consumers feel detached from brands.

Two-thirds (67%) of consumers think brands do not look after their personal data carefully, while half (51%) say brands send too many communications.

Another half (50%) say they find it difficult to speak to a brand representative, perhaps because no phone number is provided on a brand's website, and a third (31%) have concerns about not receiving sufficient post-purchase care. In addition, 19% say brands do not provide a seamless experience across all touch points.

"With more and more channels to manage, and more points at which to engage with consumers, brands have to move with greater speed and agility than ever before," Whale concluded.

Data sourced from OLIVER, Marketing Communications News; additional content by Warc staff