Branding: Consumers Are Getting Nastier This Year

By Azleen Abdul Rahim

Unlike previous new year celebrations, this year’s began very moderately. It will be the same for the next one I presume,  and so on. With all uncertainties happening around us, everyone welcome the new year with caution. In Malaysia, changes are happening from all front due to inflation and ridiculous cost of living. Digital marketing is also facing some reality check this year too. Brands are no longer looking at digital marketing as an option to push their brands out. It has become a necessity.

Consumers are behaving a bit strange too for the past few months. Brand loyalty has become a thing of the past. They are now willing to leave brands that do not meet their personal expectations and experience. Not only that, they are creating hashtags and viral those unhappiness in social media channels and instant messaging platforms to their friends. When consumers leave a brand, they will leave together with their friends and try to pull others too by using those negative stories that happened.

Brands should be scared of this. For the past one and half year, I observed hard on the behaviour of these online consumers and how they perceive on certain brands. I also saw how they respond to and interact with those brands, and influence their networks of friends when those brands are doing campaigns. Based on my observation, consumers are getting smarter in their selections. They are well aware of what is the story lying behind any promotions. Not only they no longer believe 100% what those brands are campaigning and advertising, they are also getting more aggressive this time in verifying certain campaigns with their friends before making any purchases. Just to be sure that the decision made won’t be a ‘wrong’ one.

In summary, here are several things that I observed as well. As a brand yourself, you may want to take these seriously and work on yours quickly:

1. 35% of the entire market are filled by Gen Y or Millennial. Their individualistic behaviour are getting worst in sync with the speed of internet in their respective country. To these young people, internet is like an air they can’t live without. Thus, social media channels and instant messaging tools are their main interaction mediums. Physical networking is something they no longer require. They prefer to be closer to their keyboards and mobile devices than to another human being, wiser in creating hashtags rather than physical word-of-mouth and equipped with credit (or debit) cards in hand rather than cash. When their way of living is like that, they are not only buying things and interacting with their friends online, they also can help to push or bring down any brands online too. To spread something and viral it is a super duper easy now.

2. Consumers will convert any brands to another if they find the price offered is no longer represents the value they are looking for. Value-for-money factor is now becoming a major key decision at their disposal. Brand loyalty will get obsolete within these few years.

3. Consumers hate advertisement. When they see one, they will quickly try to find the Close button to get rid of the ads. If your website has a fair bit of ads within your website, they will avoid visiting yours in the future and go to others that has no or extremely minimal ads. That’s how bad their hate ads and I am not joking.

4. Consumers do not want any relationship with any brands anymore. Brands that are working so hard to creating relationships with their customers will be disappointed as loyalty sentiment is on its lowest now. If the brand failed to deliver what was promised, or in other words over-promise and under-deliver then the consumers will just say goodbye to it and move on. There’s no turning back for them.

5. A single marketing campaign that applies to the general public as a whole is no longer relevant, it happened last year and it definitely won’t work too this year. Brands need to personalise their campaigns to suit certain group of targeted audience or face irrelevance. If there are certain group of consumers who do not feel that the campaign doesn’t target them, they won’t respond to it. Let alone buying the the products and services campaigned.

6.  Consumers tend to buy something which entitled them to be in certain tribe. Just look at Apple for example, with their iPhone kind of tribe. These people are very proud of the group they’re attaching to and eventually ‘fight’ for what they believe in against the another tribe – specifically Samsung’s and the Android ones.

Now you see this year will be a very challenging one, yet I believe it will be a very interesting one too. Like it or not, digital marketing, content and social media will continue to lead a significant role in helping organisations to push their brands forward.

Are you keeping up?