The power of online comparison

Have you read the new report ‘Your Brand: At Risk or Ready for Growth?’ from social search specialists Alterian which argues that the world of online marketing means big changes in terms of  delivering individualized marketing to consumers? Check it out here: Brands at risk (pdf, 1mb).

I was interested in the points made (jump to page 15) about price comparison and the power of finding similar folks and cross-checking with them, and using multiple sources of online information to make a purchase. Plus the point in the summary that never mind all the tech talk about the power of cloud technology, from a marketing perspective it is really about expressing/representing the individual.

The power of comparison

Consistent with our earlier findings, ‘formal messages from the company’ or ‘brand’ rate very low, with ‘advertising’ placed last with only 5% (4% UK, 6% US), seeing this as at all trustworthy. Second to last was ‘what the company says about itself’ with 8% (9% UK, 6% US), all well behind the hardly surprising ‘friends and family’ (40%).

Perhaps more interestingly was ‘professional reviews on the internet and magazines’ (28%) and the next most trusted source ‘people that are similar to me’ 19% (16% UK, 24% US). Recent research has indicated that, overall, people who view their friends and peers as credible sources of information about a company dropped to 25%.

Importantly, Edleman* believes this can be interpreted as ‘it is a sign of the times, and the lesson for marketers is that consumers have to see and hear things in five different places before they believe it’.

Key Points

  • Empowered consumers are massively connected, always available, expect others to be available and are used to directly interact with content.
  • Individuals ‘assemble’ relationships/experiences/things about themselves in an on-demand manner, by doing so they build rich and highly personalized structures.
  • Devices and media are clustered round the individual, often providing a ‘rich tapestry’ of multi-mode/channel communications.
  • Many of these developments can be traced back to a growing social sense of individuality developed over several decades.
  • Social media is one manifestation of this much deeper social change.
  • Although the cloud potential of the media receives much attention it is really about expressing/representing the individual.
  • Much of the communication/engagement by the individual should be seen as a means to express and establish identity.
  • Building strong engagements requires organizations to interact at a personal level.
  • Trust is increasingly seen as something established in an interactive manner.
  • Beliefs or information are tested by verification from several sources, these may not all be in consistent agreement, the final choice arises from ‘active dialogue’.

* ‘In Age of Friending, Consumers Trust their Friends Less‘, Edleman Trust Barometer, in Advertising Age, (12-02-2010)