Brands Must Expose Themselves to Gain Market Credibility

  • SHARES

By Guest Comment

shutterstock_89712097

Today we bring you a guest post from BJ Kito, VP of business strategy and general counsel at Digital Surgeons, a full-service agency driven by the relentless urge to move brands forward.

There is a movement out there: a movement of passionate consumers who search for and evaluate every available piece of data before making a purchasing decision. This “infolust” has sparked the emergence of a new and expanding persona: the Infosumer. The movement has created an inflection point in our society: consumers appreciate the abundance of data at their fingertips and use it for more than settling arguments at a bar.

Consumers have extended their love affair with research, comparison shopping and product reviews. They are interested in where things are being produced and what type of impact (both positive and negative) the brand they are supporting has on the community.

They want to make their own decisions.

More specifically, they want to feel that their decisions aren’t influenced by a company’s marketing dollars, but by their connection to a brand that tells the truth, develops higher quality products and gives back to society.

What type of data are they looking for?

In a word, everything.

In travel alone, 6 out of 10 mobile users download travel apps to research restaurants (52%), research destinations (46%), read reviews (45%), book hotels (42%) or research flights (34%).

These “Infosumers” dive into data head-first. They download Expedia, Hotels.com, Booking.com, Jetsetter, Priceline, Hotel Tonight, Starwood Preferred Guest, W Hotels and Travelzoo to their devices. They compare prices and information from each one meticulously. They read reviews and then go to TripAdvisor and Oyster for unbiased traveler photos. They learn about when to fly in and out of places to avoid waits for cabs or when to avoid long customs lines. They research attractions and compare feedback from friends with online reviews and then “professional” reviews and top ten lists.

This phenomenon doesn’t only exist in the travel market. Studies also show that over half of smartphone consumers in the US consult their phones for retail purchases.

The secret is out: people are hungry for data. They look at RAM, thread-count, water pressure, BPA levels, leather quality, warranties, employee working conditions, farm-to-table, Made in America and even things like where the head chef at a given restaurant trained. However, this new generation of consumers is not content simply with data–they also want to see brands held accountable.

The value of transparency

For the most part, consumers have been relegated to third party applications that curate data and product information in order to satisfy the info itch. Moving forward, brands need to insert themselves into the mix by offering research and comparison data on their own properties (branded or not).

This type of transparency and self-awareness is not something many brands lead with, because they’re hesitant to draw attention to any potential negatives. But, just ask Domino’s how well transparency can work. Domino’s Pizza Turnaround campaign wasn’t just a successful platform because some of the criticisms were so harsh and made for great content.

Domino’s was able to take real reviews and poor company performance and use that as a way to address the issue publicly, own what was being said about them (good and bad) and speak directly to it.

Feeding off Yelp, Foursquare and Twitter, they were able to address their own critics directly and reintroduce otherwise disinterested consumers to the brand.

Domino’s Pizza Turnaround campaign was only the first step. The real challenge was actually delivering on their promise.

Make it easy

The Infosumer is someone who wants to customize his or her basket based on information. This information could be knowing that they’re getting the best deal at a hotel, that their pizza is hand-tossed or that the brand they’re considering is driven by charity.

From The Naked Brand:

“Corporations have incredible influence on the world we live in and that’s given them free reign to pollute, collude and mislead us, but advances in technology are rapidly making them accountable not just to shareholders, but to everyone. Now that we have constant access to the truth about the products we use and the ethics of the companies behind them, big brands are realizing that looking great isn’t enough. It’s time to actually be great.”

Because today’s consumers have so much information at their fingertips, brands must lead the charge: be honest and transparent, acknowledge faults and improve them, showcase points of differentiation and keep these Infosumers satiated.