01 April 2010

What's new

I hear people declare these days, “consumers trust products and brand recommendations from people they know” (or words to this effect), as if it’s some kind of revelation. But, hasn’t this always been the case? Haven’t people always consulted their family, friends, neighbours and colleagues for advice and recommendations on products and services they intended to buy and use? Haven’t people we know influenced our choices and purchase decisions – or, at least, shared their knowledge and experience of products and services they’ve used with us? What’s new about that?!

It’s true that, with the internet, much of this influence has shifted online – at least in the developed world where internet penetration and usage are high. It’s also true that the internet has encouraged online participation, conversations and influence, and even accelerated it, by making it easy to listen in and participate in ongoing conversations, as well as enabling us to take personal or collaborative action. And, of course, it’s true that the internet has increased the reach of these conversations and actions – and their influence.

However, the internet still operates on human needs and desires which drive our purchase decisions as well as our preferences for specific brands.

What’s new today is that the control of product/brand conversations and recommendations is slowly (albeit more rapidly in the developed world) shifting from the product/brand marketers to the consumers. What’s also new is that the wise marketers (and there aren’t too many at the moment) are beginning to give credence to this shift of control and beginning to engage their consumers in their marketing.

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