Consumers are critical thinkers and are increasingly rejecting items they do not instantly like, partly due to their ability to consume 24/7 and access almost everything on demand. They no longer accept that a certain product is the best, simply because a company says so. According to SAS – leader in business analytics software and services modern consumers are informed decision-makers who demand an immediate response to their needs. Not only do consumers research their products extensively, but they rely on testimonials and honest opinions of other consumers.

Brands are relying more and more on the customer to make their product a success. What are people saying about their brand? Do they like the product? Are people buying the product repeatedly?

Slowly but surely, brands are growing more aware of the fact that the consumer has begun to dictate the shopping experience. But what does this mean and how can brands go beyond consumerism and anticipate the customer’s needs?

The fact that consumers are increasingly taking their business online has been accepted by B2C companies. They haven’t yet fully embraced the fact that:

  1. Customers are far more independent online. They are accustomed to ignoring the type of advertisements that accost, interrupt and annoy them.
  2. The customer experience of a brand is no longer in-store.
  3. Companies need to improve their online customer service.

In many cases, traditional advertising has greatly accurate and measurable purposes; however, its essence has begun to change. Consumers now question new products or services and who’s selling them.  Companies can no longer hide behind their brand. The public demands transparency and the opportunity to interact with those behind the product.

The greatest online champions are those who promote visibility and some of the best examples are Coca-Cola and Disney. Traditional media is perfect for generating brand awareness and shaping the brand narrative, but in a modern world of dubious consumers, brands have to do more.

Customers crave new experiences, interaction and personalised communication; the online sphere is about sharing, learning and contributing. As a brand, companies must adhere to the norms of the social media sphere and behave as everyone else. Their job is to respond individually, respect feedback, and generate content that their consumers will enjoy all while portraying their brand’s most honest representation.

Social media has given customers the opportunity to have closer relationships with the brands they love. They can share, tag, comment and like material. If a brand can’t deliver, consumers will go elsewhere.

So brands are no longer the dictator; they are a community member much like everyone else. Just like Coca-Cola and the way it substituted its brand name on the bottles for that of its consumers, the new marketing isn’t about consumption, it’s about community, conversation and consumer needs.

The message here is not that advertising is useless. It’s still a valuable resource in a world of clutter where sometimes you do need to be on a billboard to get yourself seen. However, the message is that the consumer is more savvy than ever before and can sniff out inauthenticity. Customers won’t just buy anything. Customers want the whole package, and it’s up to companies to provide this. Brand managers must make sure that their company’s core values and beliefs are transferred across all mediums – both online and offline.

The days of one-sided conversations are no more. Customers are speaking and they want to be heard. By listening, businesses may discover needs, wants and desires that they can cater to, whether it’s a new product, or a new advertising campaign. It’s time to get ahead of the curve.



Post by
Susie founded Springboard in 2011, and has developed the business into a leading, director-led communications agency. She has worked for over 20 years in senior marketing and public relations roles.

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