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Staying customer relevant in our social world

Marketers and brands are living in turbulent times where CEOs are demanding more efficiency, ROI and impact on business areas that may not have had exposure before. This revolution is mainly due to huge changes in consumer behaviour, as shoppers now have access to virtually any piece of information about a brand, product or service at any given moment and the majority research products before even setting foot in a store.

This shopping revolution is being firmly led by Millennials, also known as Generation Y. Aged between late teens and early 30s, this generation has been raised in a world of social networking, mobile devices and has grown up in the Internet Age. Additionally, Millennials currently have more influence over both buyer decisions and content that is being delivered by brands and marketers than any other. Moreover, as social becomes more mature, consumers in general are craving additional user-generated content across channels. 

 Sharing thoughts and opinions through word of mouth is not a new phenomenon by any means, however with the digital revolution this is now even greater. By 2016, an estimated 52 per cent of total online and offline retail sales will be influenced by internet content.  It isn’t just remarks and feedback from our peers which have the potential to influence consumer behaviour – 51 per cent of Millennials trust strangers’ online reviews and opinions more than those of a friend or family member, based on the proviso that they are authentic accounts of personal experiences. Consumers don’t just write reviews to reward or punish a brand – more often than not they are simply motivated by a sense of basic altruism and a desire to help others. In turn, consumers want to be helped and those who interact with authentic reviews are more likely to make better decisions and become better informed customers.

 Consequentially, it has never been more important for brands to adapt their brand strategy to cater for these new, savvy consumers and to listen to, react to and engage accordingly with them across these touchpoints. Rather than consumers only hearing from the brand, by incorporating user-generated content into brand content consumers are able to hear and see each other’s opinions and experiences. This not only provides a third-party endorsement and validation of a product that encourages brand loyalty, but also enables consumers to escape the traditional purchase funnel cycle and provide them with useful information via the channels they wish to engage with the brand through.

 To help adapt to this shift in consumer behaviour, there is a flood of new tools and information available to marketers which provide customer data and insight in a detail and volume like never before. The future of social is predictive and will enable marketers to create a current and vivid picture of their customers, which will help to encourage further brand engagement and interest. Whilst it can be challenging to interpret this data, if used properly it presents an unbridled opportunity to have a closer, more relevant relationship with our customers based on what they are telling us they want.

 The next five years are set to be even more exciting and dynamic than the previous five as we move into uncharted territories with new environments and technologies to get to grips with. Whilst this presents new challenges for brands and marketers, organisations that strive to be relevant to their customers will undoubtedly still create better ones. Brands and marketers must remember that consumers’ time is very valuable and the competition for attention is tough, but being relevant puts brands and companies one step ahead. Ultimately, the hard wiring of humans will not change – we still have our basic instincts to seek social proof, to share and to help one another. By enabling this and remembering how important consumers are to the future success of a company, brands can ensure they stay relevant in our increasingly social world.