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Blogs, social media spell new wave of branding

business Updated: Nov 07, 2008 23:01 IST
Anita Sharan

There was a time when consumers listened to relatives, friends or neighbours to make purchase decisions. Now, thanks to the Internet, even strangers have become influencers, says new wisdom on changing market practices. There are many tools to do this, such as a Website recommendation, a voting button, a favourite list.

With economic downturn affecting advertisers, promoting brands through conventional advertising is being re-examined by spenders in a new light amid the rise of new Internet habits.

A global study of 17,000 active Internet users across 29 countries conducted by Lodestar Universal, one of India’s largest media service agencies, says that the rise of social media – which includes social networking sites like Orkut and Facebook and blogs – ‘digital friends’ (like pen pals of yesteryears) and proliferation of Internet channels like photo and video sharing sites are changing the landscape.

In India, actively influenced categories include consumer electronics, cellphone services, travel options. Realty is increasing its influence steadily.

“Creating an understanding on how brands and marketers should respond to the new changes in technology and the resultant consumer behaviour is essential to keep us ahead of the curve. We have been tracking online behaviour annually for the last three years. This study is Wave Three,” Nandini Dias, Lodestar’s chief operating officer, told Hindustan Times.

According to the Internet Innovation Alliance, published content on the Internet has grown 8,760 times since 1999. With the content explosion, celebrities endorsing products increasingly pale in comparison.

“In a downturn (in the economy), despite understanding the benefits of continuing advertising, marketers feel the need to be absent from mass media,” Dias said. “Consumers respond to sentiments and moods rather than factual information. If marketers can understand how to interact with and impact the influence economy so that sentiment and emotions are based on factual information, they can benefit a lot.”