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An investomer is an individual that has shares in a company, who also becomes a consumer through the purchasing of goods or services that the company provides. An investomer strategy is where the company encourages shareholders to also become consumers of the brand. This investomer strategy can be encouraged through direct marketing to the investors, and providing schemes like loyalty discounts, free samples and vouchers.
This strategy allows the investors to support the company in a more proactive way. Through purchasing goods, the company creates more incoming revenue, and as a result the shareholders are supporting the company’s profits in a more direct fashion.
An investor discount scheme could be introduced to coincide with investomer involvement. Not only will the action of the investomers impact positively on the company and better the return the shareholders receive, but a discount scheme would cause shareholders to become more willing to spend their money on the company’s goods and services.
Investors are highly valued by companies as their loyalty is higher due to their involvement in the ownership of shares. As a result of this, they are more likely to purchase increased amount of goods, become loyal consumers in the long-term, be passionate and positive about the brand through their perception of the company and through the communications with other potential consumers, and this also results in the investomer being and feeling more involved in the company.
Due to investomer loyalty, the market segment the investomers fall under can become very profitable for the company. The refined segment that they fall under is referred to as the “engaged segment,” and is a common target for companies when marketing their products and services.
The “investomer effect” balances on many different factors. Including open communications about all aspects of the company and their products. This is expected in the role of being a shareholder but mainly surrounding accounts and factors surrounding the company itself rather than the product or service. The open communication demanded from becoming an investomer, goes more in-depth when relating to the product or service, and the deals, marketing, and discounts relating to this.
Although the concept of a marketing goods and services to shareholders has been around for some time, the strategic importance of shareholder marketing was first articulated, defined and discussed by Butera (1996). who found in his research into shareholder value that a potential outcome of share ownership is brand loyalty.
This idea was taken further by Bain & Company in 2000 who found that on average, Investomers frequent businesses 1.7 times more often than the typical shopper and spend 1.5 times as much money. Moreover, they remain customers 1.1 times longer and generate 2.1 times the number of business referrals (Mowrey, 2000) These figures came from a study by Bain & Co with 1212 respondents across 9 industry sectors.
In 2008, two Australian researchers Dr. Michael Valos and Stephen Prendergast found that amongst four of the five sectors they studies, Investomers were more attitudinally loyal, less likely to churn, more likely to be advocates, and more amenable to cross-selling communications (Valos, 2008). This research went on to find that three investomer characteristics were found to “strengthen the investomer effect”. Notably, share bonding, indicated by the number of shares held and for how long; perceived share performance, the better, the more loyal; and investor knowledge, indicated by the amount of time an investor devotes to researching stocks and the number of trades they carry out each month. The sector where the investomer effect could not be proven was in General Insurance (Car, home, contents). The study found the reason being that respondents who were shareholders in the holding companies that owned the insurance brands lacked awareness of the brands owned by the listed entity.
Of interest was that none of the studies highlighted above concluded that being an investomer made shareholders more loyal as shareholders. In the Valos study, it was found that while investomers are systematically more loyal as customers, they are not necessarily more loyal as shareholders, which was indicated by them having a similar level of retaining shares in 12 months’ time, and having comparable levels of trust, admiration, and willingness to recommend the company as a share investment.
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The following conditions are necessary then to unlock the value of investomers:
- Investomers must understand which brands are held by the organisations they invest in. A lack of awareness of a company’s brands prevents investomers from purposefully supporting them in the form of spend or advocacy.
- Investomers need to be targeted directly to take full advantage of their loyalty.
- Investomers are more likely to be more responsive when the share price is doing relatively well. Those customers who rate the investment performance of a company’s shares as ‘above average’ are more loyal than those with a poor performance perception.
- Investomers like to be acknowledged as shareholders but don’t necessarily have to have special benefits
- Targeting investomers with shareholdings of over three years is more likely to generate favourable returns
- Organisations are likely to see a greater invetsomer effect among shareholders with higher levels of investment. Investomers become more attitudiannly loyal and open to communications about products or services as their level of investment increases
- The investomer effect is enhanced by greater knowledge and understanding of the company, so keeping them informed of share performance is key
- Direct forms of communication are the most preferred by investomers. For existing products they don’t own, personally addressed mail is the preferred option, followed by email. Personally addressed mail was found to be the most preferred media for new product announcements and for information on products and services they already buy.
There are two main approaches to investomer programs. One strategy includes rewards and discounted to the shareholders, which can be expensive depending on the extent the company is willing to discount. The other strategy is the opposite, and does not reward nor discount products or services for the investomer. It consists of targeting the investomer’s image of the product or service compared to competitor products. The comparing of this weighs on quality and price of what is being offered. The way the company target the investomers is through the advertising of the correct offer that interests investomers. The costs of implementing this strategy are low as the company isn’t rewarding exclusive discounts towards the shareholders.
- Mowrey (March 2, 2000). "The Investomer is always right" (PDF). The Industry Standard.
- Schoenbachler, D.D., Gordon, G.L., and Aurand T.W (2004) "Building brand loyalty through individual stock ownership"' Journal of Product and Brand Management. 13(7) P488-497
- Valso, M. (2009). "MYER 'investomer' case study: from consumers to shareholders". Keeping Good Companies. 61 (11).
- Valos, M.; Prendergast, S.; McClintock, A. (2009). "Management: New Perspectives on the Shareholder as Customer". Keeping Good Companies. 61 (7): 436–439.
- Butera, M.A. (1996) "Hidden values for shareholder communications", Corporate Board, September–October P9.