Consumer trends – the times they are a-changing
A report published by Bazaarvoice, an online rating and review website with 400 million views per month, estimates that by 2017 the millennials (people currently in their mid-teens to mid-30s) will have more spending power than any other generation.
Born from the baby boomers, who grew up with TV, radio and print campaigns, the millenials have been advertised to more than any other generation. Which goes a long way to explaining why there is a lack of trust in brands and a shift away from believing what brands have to say about themselves.
Millennials are constantly connected
The millennials are the digital kids, always on the go, always connected, surfing the Internet and very image conscious. This connectedness flows directly into the way they shop. When people are looking for something, be it property, a new pair of shoes or furniture, they look to the web as their first source of information. But more than that, millenials look to each other or strangers in cyberspace to tell them what brand to use and who to trust.
Consumers’ trust in brands has waned
In South Africa, this is very evident; Finweek recently published an article entitled ‘Befriend the trend, consumer distrust is here to stay – how can brands adapt?’ In this article, fallen sports stars, corrupt government and civil claims against police are credited as the chief reason for this lack of trust in brands. I would go one step further and look at how few promises given in election years have seen the light of day. A home and a job for every family is so far from the norm, and people no longer trust that when they are given a promise from a brand – whether it’s removing stains or keeping you fuller for longer – that they are being told the truth. Consumers’ lives reflect this conflict between promises and results. As a result, peoples’ trust in brands is diminished.
People are more likely to trust their fellow consumers
So where do people put their trust? Partly in their friends and family, but also, when it eventually comes down to buying, they trust their fellow consumers. Whether they know them or not, user feedback is a large part of whether or not a millennial will use a product or service. How can this information benefit you? For one thing, you should be setting up social media accounts as you read this and for another, it’s very important to give people an avenue to comment and review your service or product – this way, future customers can see that they can trust you, that you do provide the service or product your brand promises.
Start a conversation with your consumers
Another large part of opening the lines of communication is to allow people the right to respond. Should you get negative feedback, don’t dismiss it; read through it, find out exactly what happened and then respond, showing you care about what happens to your customers, that you value them and take them seriously. By responding to and resolving negative outcomes, you cement your customers’ faith in your company and brand.
South Africans remain hesitant to purchase online
While people may shop online, do they buy online? Yes and no, consumers are avid Internet users, roughly 56% of urban consumers in Africa own Internet-capable mobile devices, but South Africa still predominately has the Research Online Purchase Offline (ROPO) model. ROPO people will search for what they want on the Internet, and compare services, prices and images, but when it comes to putting the money down, people purchase in person. This applies to bonds, homes, retail outlets and even to services like facilities management, legal matters and letting. Your company brand and customer feedback will win you the interview, but it’s your staff, services and products that will get that potential client to sign on the dotted line.
South Africa is still behind the curve when it comes to consumer trends
In countries like the USA and the UK, online is key – it doesn’t matter if you have a presence in TV or print, if you aren’t digital, then you may as well not be in business. A large part of this is due to the fact that their digital capabilities far exceed ours; Internet is less expensive, it’s faster and far more readily available. Most shops, restaurants and companies offer free Wi-Fi, and customers love freebies. Here in South Africa, this trend is slowly catching on, but it may well be two or more years before we are where the UK is today.
Customers today are bombarded with ads
They are in our daily lives and faces all the time and our lives have become saturated with them. In order to stand out, you need to think outside the box and be creative; by following the latest and emerging trends in what consumers want right now, you can apply this to your marketing strategy and make your business stand out. One brand that does this very effectively is Nando’s. They may not be in the property business, but their ads are legendary, they use current events and media personalities to create ads that are spoken about, Googled, searched and shared. They do this by tapping into what people are thinking, what their concerns are, and then giving them a release – laughter. While I am not advocating comedy ads for every company, it’s the thinking behind the ads that every company should be putting into action.
Being noticed is advertising gold; just make sure you are being noticed for the right reasons
In the era of one scandal after the next from the highest echelons of government to sports stars, trust is a valuable commodity and one that you cannot afford to break or take for granted. Get your consumers to trust you and talk about you and you will be the brand people flock to.
Some interesting stats:
• Consumer reviews are significantly more trusted — nearly 12 times more — than descriptions that come from manufacturers, according to a survey of US mom Internet users by online video review site EXPO. eMarketer, February, 2010
• When asked what sources ‘influence your decision to use or not use a particular company, brand or product’ 71% claim reviews from family members or friends exert a “great deal” or “fair amount” of influence. Harris Interactive, June, 2010
• Over half of millennials (consumers aged 18 to 34) trust the opinions of strangers online over those of friends and family. ‘Social Trends Report 2012’, Bazaarvoice, June, 2012
• 74% said ‘After interacting with companies or brands via new media, I generally have a more positive impression of the company or brand.’Consumers Demand Brand Interaction, October, 2009
• Reviews mentioning customer service have a 91% lower rating than average.’The Conversation Index Vol. 1’, Bazaarvoice, September, 2011
• 51% of millennials say consumer opinions found on a company’s website have a greater impact on purchase decisions than recommendations from family and friends.’Talking to Strangers: Millennials Trust People over Brands’ Bazaarvoice, January, 2012
• 73% of millennials think that other consumers care about their opinions more than companies do.’Talking to Strangers: Millennials Trust People over Brands’ Bazaarvoice, January, 2012
• 84% of millennials say user-generated content has at least some influence on what they buy (compared to 70% of boomers).’Talking to Strangers: Millennials Trust People over Brands’ Bazaarvoice, January, 2012
• 60% of retailers use customer reviews; 55% say reviews are a priority in the coming year. Shop.org, July, 2009 • High product rating will increase likelihood of purchase for 55% of consumers. Econsultancy, July, 2010
• 83% of all holiday shoppers are influenced by customer reviews.’Consumer Shopping Habits Survey’, ChannelAdvisor, August, 2010
By Coleen May