In a market place cluttered with competing brands with their competing marketing din, how can a brand run ahead of the pack?
Here’s a thought: how about involving the very consumer we plan to sell to, in the actual selling of the brand?
I remember watching The Joneses, in 2009, where a seemingly perfect family (they are not a real family) forms a part of the ritzy consumerist American society and starts influencing the neighbours with its elegant and trend-setting lifestyle – cool clothes, fast cars, latest gadgets.
The neighbours, already impressed, want to live it up to the Joneses’ standards. The intelligence of the film is the amazing premise that the Jones family forms a part of the savvy marketing team that these brands bank on to sell their products, raking in big monies for themselves and the Joneses.
Today, online and offline influencers form insightful partners who can help a brand innovate and improve its competitive position. The social media revolution has bought about a veritable goldmine of information that consumers dig into, before they make a brand decision. Be it a product or service, social word of mouth has tremendous consequences when brands fumble in a consumer encounter. Fates of movies today are not decided by trade pundits, but are dependent on 140-character tweets, Facebook statuses and blog updates.
In this age of the social consumer, it won’t be long before brands will have to rethink their voice of customers/consumers (VOC) programmes. Brands that fail to sift through the unstructured and unsolicited feedback, check merging trends before they turn out to be a public relations nightmares, need to take some learning from the Café Coffee day incident at Chennai that went trending on Twitter for all the wrong reasons.
So where do brands start the change revolution? By marketing themselves on the wide social strata, amplifying their communications’ scope and gaining insights in return.
Customer service is another key application. With Comcast and JetBlue leading the way, customers increasingly expect that complaints aired on Twitter should be handled promptly by company representatives.
Capitalising on key, unstructured and unsolicited feedback makes tremendous sense today as it helps the brand keep abreast of its actual market standing.
The age of the social consumer is here. Are brands ready to engage?
The writer is head – operations, EBS Interactive (India)