Customers are now finding the call of the ordinary as most trustworthy and genuine as opposed to celebrities who attracted brand limelight of the era gone by.
Imagine you go to a shop to try a new coffee variant recently launched by a fairly well-known brand. You come home, try it and are overjoyed with its taste and aroma. What is the next thing you do? Make another brew or share your joy with your family? Perhaps both.
For most consumer brands, the simple act of sharing your experience about a product for its quality, sales service, or price point makes case for a massive marketing opportunity. It is not new to realize that people do business with people and buy products from brands they trust. So when you give a high-five to a brand, the noise moves across the room, making others tempted to trust your first-hand feedback and buy the same product on their next visit to the supermarket. The distinct way to grow any business is to make your customers chatter about your product.
Voice of the common man
Think gossip is negative. Well, indeed it is not. It is as crucial as our voice on things that matter. In the seeds of gossiping lie humanity’s power to bond with others socially, influence decisions, foster life-long friendships and create powerful communications. This was unique to homo sapiens that allowed the species to cooperate with strangers and helped them gain an edge on the animal kingdom.
Gossip is one of the unheralded foundations of our species and its survival, concludes Yuval Noah Harari in his best-seller Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. Consumers were always leaders of opinions, sometimes in whispers and at other times aloud.
The times we are going through provides a very fertile ground for consumers to use opinion to manoeuvre market trends. The numerous social media platforms give consumers access to share their gossip with the world at large, influencing purchase decisions and changing the purchase funnel from linear to circular.
An active customer is uniquely positioned to give brands social proof on their superior product or service, getting more interested customers and benefiting the brands with good returns. These customers or brand advocates are in no way forced to speak highly of any brand and this gives them true power to speak what is best in a brand.
The strength of such brand advocates lies in their authentic enthusiasm to endorse a brand and it is because of these truths that people trust their reviews and pay close attention to words. Eight in ten customers (83%) believe that trust is the first emotional metric that influences brand loyalty, according to the 2019 Deloitte study ‘Exploring the value of emotions-driven engagements’. Just as the world’s strongest brands are built upon a few core sets of truth, the same thing can be said about powerful brand advocates.
Times of trusted advisors
Traditionally, brand advocates have always been popular superstars with a mass appeal. But changing consumer sentiments showed a shift towards user-generated authoritarian content that has appeal to a targeted audience, making way for the rise of internet celebrities–they are none other than you and me with expert knowledge of industry product types and ability to spin a convincing tale of her own experience with the brand.
The power of storytelling in marketing cannot be emphasized any further. New-age influencers are compelling storytellers pushing the brands they endorse by the sheer force of their belief and the fan followers they possess. They are not just loyal to brands but actively champion their products to influence the buying habits of others. And that is why influencers are the most valuable customers that a company can have.
These are the same people who got an opportunity to broadcast their water cooler conversations on their social media handles. Not all of them have a follower count in millions but what they lack in reach, they make up with their intimate personalization of the brand. When these netizens recommend a product on Instagram, their words seem as genuine as those from a friend.
Call for meaningful conversations
These digital natives have emerged in interesting times. They are nudging brands to take a step back and focus on quality and service of products to drive conversations rather than mindlessly putting their money in large-scale paid marketing campaigns.
Brands are forging strategic partnerships with influencers to change buying habits of whole communities. But once brands orchestrate the social talks, it shakes the very foundation of trust and authenticity that had actually made these netizens’ murmur effective.
To have customers become cheerleaders, brand managers are tasked with finding innovative ways to delight buyers and nudge them to become advocates. It is only when advocates create buzz out of a genuine desire to underline a brand’s product or service can they be called truly trustworthy.