Today’s consumer marketplace is a brutal environment for retailers and brands. It’s time for marketers to change their game plan accordingly.
A poll by AdAge found that only 4 percent of consumers believe marketers act with integrity. You can see that statistic play out in research around the new consumer-buying journey. McKinsey estimated that 74 percent of the final buying decision is impacted not by ads but by people – conversations with acquaintances, point of sale associates and online research.
Not surprisingly, this has led to an evolution away from traditional forms of marketing, toward new, consumer-driven tactics for reaching customers wherever they are.
Clearly, this massive vote of no confidence on the part of consumers toward marketers, and the changing traditional advertising model, creates an enormous vacuum for marketing as we know it.
It also raises a crucial question: In this new world of seemingly endless flux, how do brands establish trust and successfully engage with consumers who are both savvy and skeptical?
A Modern Customer Engagement Success Story: Pinterest
Recent strategic moves by Pinterest provide clues for those who are paying attention to the behaviors of their existing and potential customers. Pinterest recently made changes to its site to make the shopping experience easier, more direct and most importantly, focused on capturing this new moment of buying inspiration for the consumer.
Pinterest has long been ahead of the curve in observing and responding to consumer trends and wishes. Last year the company introduced “buyable” pins that enable the consumer to easily act on inspiration at the moment it occurs by immediately buying something they see on the site.
In addition, the company is expanding this functionality by creating a portable “shopping bag” that follows the consumer on any device in which they are logged in to the Pinterest site.
Pinterest’s expanded rollout of its portable shopping platform reflects a broader trend growing in companies such as ours. The over 750 brands Experticity partners with understand the incredible value of tapping into passionate individuals who are inspiring moments of trusted product recommendations and making them an actual purchase opportunity for the brand.
Today’s consumers are listening to those who are much closer to their experience. People who have actually used the products they are recommending and are seen as a trusted source for product information. People Trust People, Not Ads.
What Enlightened Brands Know – and Do
As the McKinsey study, the Pinterest and Experticity experience all illustrate, the shopping and buying experience have fundamentally changed. Consumers don’t sit back and wait for marketers to reach them. They actively seek out information on what to buy (and what not to buy) not from marketers, but from their own trusted sources of credible recommendations.
Smart brands understand this, and want to move commerce to wherever the inspiration and trusted recommendations are happening. To adapt to this new normal, brands need to enshrine the consumer’s needs and experience at the center of their marketing universe. Brands must go to the consumers, with the information they want, in the ways that resonate with them.
- Understand the new rules of storytelling. Brands need to be instantly relevant to users in specific locations and varying product needs. A single canned image from a product catalog can’t compete with authentic, relevant, timely user generated recommendations from actual users.
- Aim for authenticity. Consumers are growing increasingly weary of brands trying to manipulate them into buying things they don’t need, using “popular kid” celebrities or arrogant expert “voices of authority.” Real people and real experiences will carry the day.
- Co-create a virtual ecosystem around the consumer. Don’t settle for the one time post when you can build your own network of influencers who can help generate ongoing conversations and content that will feed your marketing engine.
In the end, all these elements combine to develop relationships of trust between the brand and the customers who use and recommend its products and services. When brands understand how to let the consumer drive the experience, everyone benefits.
The consumer purchases the right products and services and feels empowered. The brand will in turn, gain greater insight, loyalty, and ultimately benefits a brand’s revenue and profitability.
After all – People Trust People, Not Ads.