In these uncertain times we can be sure of one thing: consumer values, needs, and behaviors will continue to evolve. Engaging customers just to purchase more products & services is no longer just about traditional marketing & communications. Instead businesses now need to engage and connect with potential customers through Social Media to earn trust. The internet has already revolutionised the consumer focussed industries. Consumers now have the power of information at their fingertips, literally enabling them to comparison shop and purchase at any time.
Given the various scandals around the world that resulted in (amongst other things) the collapse of housing markets, financial institutions, environmental disasters and recalls in the food and motoring industries, trust is now the most important theme with consumers. Over the next decade, consumers will continue to trust peer recommendations over company information and will be more likely to sense when companies are not being genuine or authentic.
Now a major new report from none other than Deloitte agrees; entitled Consumer 2020 Reading The Signs, the report assesses economic and demographic trends and amongst other things, the dramatic impact of technology on our daily lives. It concludes with a number of predictions about how consumer attitudes and patterns of consumption will change over the next decade. It makes fascinating reading!
The report suggests the idea that companies broadcast their message to consumers in a one way “push” communications style already seems quaint and old fashioned. The new more tech savvy generation of consumers already insists that companies move towards listening, servicing and collaborating. Consumers will increasingly demand & expect a rapid response to questions and suggestions ….even if the response doesn’t fit the company’s goals.
The consumer is increasingly in control of your reputation and as if to prove the point, 25% of search results for the world’s top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content!
On a more ominous note, the report suggests that consumer businesses will not be able to depend on older more loyal consumers for long. The next generation of younger customers will be more distractible, short term and more easily influenced by trends and networks of friends. So it is essential every business learns to lead by example and put the customer at the centre of their world.
So the message surely has to be that Social Media is here to stay, it isn’t a passing fad and it will continue to evolve. Businesses will need to keep up to date with the latest developments either in house or via outsourcing. There is no dout that the businesses who realise the benefits will have a competitive advantage in the years ahead. Therefore it is vital that every business large or small establishes a commercial presence in Social Media. It is often said that the ROI of Social Media is that you will be in business in 5 years time. Reading this report I can see nothing that contradicts this statement.
One final note, remember fax numbers and the rush to put them on our business cards? Where they now? Many people believe we will be saying the same of websites in a few years time….