LONDON: Significant life events can dramatically alter the brand choices made by consumers, so marketers should strive to identify the most appropriate life event for their target audience, a leading agency practitioner has argued.

Richard Shotton, the head of insight at ZenithOptimedia, said marketers who target these moments "will find receptive customers more open to their messaging than normal" because life events – for example, marriage or changing jobs – can disrupt habitual patterns of behaviour.

Research conducted by ZenithOptimedia reinforced this assertion after findings showed the scale of change could be "remarkable", he said in an article for Mediatel Newsline.

More than 1,100 consumers were asked what life events had happened to them over the past year and whether they had tried out a new brand in any of eight categories.

"In every category people were more likely to have tried new brands if they had undergone a life event," Shotton said. "In all product categories, bar one, the probability of trying new brands increased by at least 75% after a life event."

In over half of the cases the difference was more than double, he added.

He went on to say that separate research also points to evidence that life events can trigger changes to purchase behaviour.

For example, 40,000 households were studied for a year by researchers from the Universities of Essex and the West of England, along with the Department for Transport, and it was found that consumers who "gained a life partner" were four times more likely to change their choice of car.

The likelihood of doing so also increased significantly when people moved house or got a new job.

Shotton concluded: "Therefore, undergoing a life event may cause a physical disruption alongside a psychological one. Either way it represents an opportunity for competitors to steal share.

"Marketers' focus should be on identifying the most appropriate life event for their target audience [and], luckily, digital data sources mean that serving messages to people around life events is easier than ever."

Data sourced from Mediatel; additional content by Warc staff