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Monday, April 14, 2008

Can social media alter customer behavior?

Does social media (blogs, wikis, podcasts and other UGC) alter customer behavior? Can marketers frame a strategy around such expectations?

Harvard Business School professor John Quelch once said, “The purpose of marketing… should be geared to changing and reinforcing customer actions rather than customer attitude.” Paul Dunay recently revisited this quote and "feel it still holds true. But in the age of social media, it is likely to come under siege." Traditional media is being seen as interruptive, irrelevant or just plain clutter.

I found some interesting comments -

Tom Baker - I think that the day of identifying segments, targeting those segments, and positioning a product offering for a segment are about over as this process is a "from us, to you" sort of process. I see a change where successful companies of the future will be that which listen to their consumers and quickly adapt their offerings to match what they want. Perhaps a dawning of the "true" age of marketing rather than the age of promotion we have been stuck in for the past few decades.
Elaine Fogel - It sounds great in an ideal situation, where those companies that can turn on a dime can benefit. It's much harder for product manufacturers and importers that need lead time to change their offerings. They would need to do the due diligence and research ahead of time to gain a pulse on what their customers want - within reason, within their product lines, and with the ability to make a profit.
Vigyan Verma - The key is to make the brand communication relevant to the life of the consumer without sounding overbearing.
Interesting nuggets, all. I wonder why they take customers lightly. Influence of social media can be strong only if it is driven by mass adoption. Except in say US or Western Europe, most people use internet for very basic stuff like checking email, make online reservations or search for jobs. Assuming social media has the power to alter customer behavior and expecting companies to adapt to the new wave is a bit presumptuous if not incorrect - at least not immediately. What say you?

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Anonymous Elaine Fogel said...

Hi, Krish. Thanks for including my comments on this subject. I agree with you that social media is not yet ubiquitous in many people's everyday lives. It tends to attract certain demographics and market segments and leave others in the dust with big question marks hanging over their brains.

By the time, this communication vehicle becomes more widely used, there'll be something new for the avant garde to explore.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Krish said...


You have a rare sense of reality perspective that drew me to your comment. I couldn't resist absorbing it. Thanks for stopping by.

I wish to see two things happening if social media has to catch up, especially in the huge markets of the third world-

a) Broadband / WiFi access should be FREE (Free as in air)for consumers, subsidized by Ad revenues. Remember plain old radio?

b) Cost of hardware should come down.

These are markets where even cars get designed for $2500. Obviously they can't afford $700 computers to access the internet. Mobile Screens? Way too clunky. Our eyes already squint to read text messages. Now who wants to watch an hour long movie on that tablet screen?

10:00 PM  

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