Consumer Power To Make Or Break A Brand
The big game changer has been the digital revolution. In its wake there has been a seismic shift in the control levers that marketers once held. They no longer have total control to shape a brand through slick one way marketing messages because there has been a paradigm shift. This shift means that the individual consumer now holds the steers and has unprecedented power to make or break a brand.
In fact, at the click of a mouse or button, an individual customer can make their feelings known instantly – good or bad. Furthermore, thanks to the viral effect from customers’ online reviews being shared and re-shared through social media and share buttons, reviews are accessible to an almost infinite number of internet users.
The Power of One
It is for this reason that I wrote an eBook on consumer power – “The Power of One” – to describe how individual consumers now have the ability to significantly impact the public image and financial fortunes of a business whether it is sole trader or multi-national.’ (Diana Chrouch – The Power Of One – Harnessing The Power Of Reputation Marketing & CRM 2014)
Modern consumers are savvy, connected and switched on to what other consumers are saying.
Whilst marketing campaigns play their part in informing us about brands and their offerings, consumers are now less likely to rely on these entirely. In fact today’s consumers are increasingly likely to go online to consult each other when making buying decisions. Research estimates vary between 50% to 80%. A good source is the national survey of internet users by Ofcom which reports that at least 56% of people who buy online read reviews before making a final buying decision.
Customers Expect Congruence
Customers’ views and expectations are now in the driving seat when it comes to defining brand values. They dictate not only which brands, but also what factors define good or bad. It is these expectations that brands need to meet to succeed. Consumers do not only expect good quality and competitively priced goods and services. Increasingly, consumers expect to be able to trust a brand’s marketing to be congruent with their actual experience across all touch points.
Slick marketing strategies that ignore customer experience expectations do so at their peril. Recently major brands with big marketing spends have found themselves in hot water over customer service scandals that are certainly not congruent with their marketing messages. Crises like the Volkswagen’s car emissions rigging and the Talk Talk internet provider’s security lapses that led to non-encrypted customer records being hacked, illustrate the point well. The upshot of these scandals was a brand image meltdown with months of outraged customers on social media and general media, airing doubts about their ability to trust them.
Most recently Samsung have had to discontinue their Galaxy 7 mobile phone amid social media video reports, by worried customers, showing it bursting into flames. Unfortunately replacement phones that Samsung sent also inexplicably set alight. Analysts report that this brouhaha could cost Samsung $9.5 billion in lost sales and put a further $5.1 billion dent in profit. Unsurprisingly their share price plummeted by around 8% in the first few days after the news broke.
Quite apart from the devastating financial losses and catastrophic damage to these brand’s reputations – think about it – how effective do you think their marketing efforts will be in the not too distant future?
No business is immune from crisis, but the key issue that came out of these crises is that customers have lost confidence in the brand. Furthermore they also expressed concerns that there had been a breach of trust leading to suspicion about whether profit rather than customer needs were central to these business models.
There are three main keys to successfully marketing a brand in the digital age:
- Recognize that the power lies with the customer –“The Power Of One.” The brand’s role is to facilitate this power through customer-centric business objectives
- Devise a strategy that respects the new currencies of trust and reputation by ensuring that your customer relations strategy meets expectations and is congruent with your marketing.
- Integrate your processes to create a seamless and more congruent customer experience – integrate departments and remove the siloes between marketing, customer service management and sales.
For more advice about your Marketing and Customer Service strategy click here to contact Diana Chrouch