Shaping Or Breaking Brands

In today's sliding online landscape we need to keep a close eye on the care and feeding of consumers. What they say about our brands (and our clients) can shape or break them.

User-generated content provides the online universe an even bigger microphone to shout with. No matter where you search, you can most likely find product/service reviews from people -- real reviews, not brand-biased reviews.

Stop thinking your brand is all that's important. Think forward to how the needs of today's consumer are also shifting. No matter what the demographic, the common thread is that people are time-starved. They are also bombarded with advertising messaging in just about every format on a constant basis.

Put your consumer hat on for a moment and think about it. How many ads and/or marketing messages were you aware of when you were going to work this morning? Do you remember the brands? Some of the taglines? Chances are you'll remember few. Most likely you'll recall one you didn't like or thought was pointless.



You know the drill, you are slowly getting back into the weekly grind but all you can think of is getting a seat on the train or subway. Once you are settled, you may or may not look up to see so many ads - they're ike wallpaper. Many look tattered, dirty and have graffiti on them. Doesn't give you a warm and fuzzy feeling about the brand.

Listen to the conversation on your next ride in, or to what your officemates are talking about. Did they see a new movie or show? Eat at a hot new restaurant? Go shopping? I don't know about you, but almost every time I hear about a good movie it sticks in my mind. However, being the cynic who needs to maximize her time, I form my own opinion.

Or do I? Well, not necessarily. Most likely I'll remember the name of the movie and go and search for it online. Sure I can see the typical reviews from the pundits but they don't really matter to me. I think back to what my friends/colleagues said. I read the basics of who's starring in it and what the movie is about first. Then I almost automatically look for the trailer to view. After I view the trailer -- and if, and only if, my interest level is still up -- I head for the viewer reviews. If all I have is a few hours of time (and a babysitter) on a Saturday night, then I need to make the most of my time.

I know there'll be good and bad reviews and I read several, not all. I could lose more time reading reviews then spending at the actual movie -- I know that. So I look for those that are recent and most likely unbiased. If there are more good than bad, I put the movie on my must-do list for the week.

I am not alone. According to a recent survey by Deloitte's Consumer Products Group, consumers are turning to online reviews in large numbers. And guess what, those reviews have been found to have a serious impact on purchase. That's no surprise, right?

Findings show that 62% of consumers read consumer-written product reviews on the Internet. Out of that group, more than 8 in 10 say they have been directly influenced by the reviews. Influence, of course, is twofold: consumers are either influenced to buy the product they were researching, or switch to another brand.

Other findings include:

Users that tend to read and be influenced by online reviews tend to skew younger -- although all age groups are heading online for reviews.

Four in 10 consumers cited "Better for you" ingredients or components, eco-friendly usage, and sourcing, as important factors in making purchase decisions; eco-friendly production and/or packaging was cited as important by 35% of consumers.

And, the reach of consumer reviews isn't limited to the online world -- seven in 10 of the consumers who read reviews share them with friends, family or colleagues, thus amplifying their impact.

Though the survey found that reputation and word of mouth are the key factors that influence consumers' decisions to purchase a new product or brand, many other factors also play a significant role. As a result of recent recalls one-third of survey respondents said that they now look for more information on the packaging/product, and almost one in five (18%) said they now look for more information on the Internet or in other locations.

Responding to the survey, Pat Conroy, vice chairman and U.S. consumer products group leader at Deloitte & Touche USA, said "In the past, clever marketers and advertisers shaped brands, but now consumers are increasingly empowered, everyone has a voice, and information and opinions are instantly dispersed.... Consumer product companies need to determine how best to capitalize on this new landscape. Clearly, there will be consequences for those who don't."

Next story loading loading..