How Content Changes Behavior, Searches

More than 77% of people create content today -- up from less than 10% in 2006, per research results. Consumers continue to reshape relationships with companies creating new behavior patterns that will require marketers to rethink concepts and how digital influences search and everyday life.

This means that brands can no longer afford to ignore changing consumer behaviors moving from the peripheral into the mainstream. New research from global brand consultancies Wolff Olins, and Flamingo suggests that these new behavioral patterns require marketers to rethink the type of consumers using digital devices.

The new role of the brand becomes creating relationships with consumers based on trust. The research calls it a relationship of "fair exchange," where consumers and companies contribute the same worth and gain the same amount. It points to a new world where in a click of a button a 30-year-old technical contractor can "blow the whistle" on a U.S. surveillance operation. It's a world where people question, compare and probe -- even mistrust authority.



The report also gets a bit esoteric at times, highlighting the trend of consumers sidestepping conventional services, like moving from traditional brick-and-mortar banking systems to transacting business only online. It also points to Skype vs. traditional phone carriers, and how millions moved from Encyclopedia Britannica to Wikipedia.

It turns out that Chinese users create more content than professional Web sites, as revealed in the report. So what's the point? Think less about selling to people and more about advancing social processes by enlisting consumers in services or business models, the report suggests. Allow consumers to believe in the service, rather than forcing them to make a choice or sidestep to another.

The report suggests three strategies to help brands get started:

1) As people sidestep traditional institutions, become the place they move. A brand needs to see itself not as a sole operator or an isolated institution, but as part of an ecosystem.

2) Give consumers the tools to make, share and even sell their own things. Provide ingredients rather than the finished article. Give consumers tools to adopt, adapt and improve.

3) When people want to manage their own time, let them build their own timetable to interact with the brand. By being more generous, flexible and open-ended the return and rewards for companies could mean even deeper insights from customers into what they want, when and how.

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