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Brands must expose themselves to gain market credibility

Written by in Strategy
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The consumers’ lust for data.

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 concept of “infolust” has sparked the emergence of a new and expanding persona, the Infosumer. The existence of which has created an inflection point in our society, where the masses realize the abundance of data at their fingertips and use it for more than settling arguments at a bar.

Consumers are excited to use technology and are having a love affair with research, comparison shopping, and reading 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. Decisions, they feel, 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 and the environment.

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 the web 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. If they have a stop they choose a stop in an airport where there are restaurants or entertainment.

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 as well. Seeking product information, price comparison, product reviews, features and even to scan QR codes (they can still be useful).

The secret is out, people are hungry for data. Consumers look at RAM, thread-count, water pressure, BPA levels of plastic, leather quality, warranties, employee working conditions, farm-to-table, Made in America and even things like who the chef is at a restaurant they are considering, where they were trained, what types of cultural influences the food has and where it was sourced. However, this new generation of consumers is not content simply with data, they also want to see a brand be held accountable for its actions and consider this in their purchasing decisions

An appreciation for transparency.

For the most part, consumers have been relegated to 3rd 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, 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 actual 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; educating consumers about what their goals were and how they were going to fix their pizza. Feeding (pun intended) off Yelp, Foursquare and Twitter reviews and comments they were able to address them directly and reintroduce otherwise disinterested consumers into potential customers.

Domino’s Pizza Turnaround campaign was only the first step. The real challenge was actually delivering on their promise. Which, if you’ve tried the pizza lately or looked up DPZ on the NYSE it’s clear they’ve been able to follow-through.

Make it easy on them.

The Infosumer is someone who wants to customize their basket based on the information they are armed with and what’s most relevant/important to them. It could be knowing that they’re getting the best deal at a hotel, their pizza is hand-tossed or the brand is charity-driven - donating a pair of shoes with each purchase. But, it’s also someone who expects more from the brands they are loyal to and the corporations that drive our society.

As pointed out in the documentary 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 there is so much information available to today’s consumers, brands must lead the charge; be honest and transparent, acknowledge faults and improve them, showcase points of differentiation and keep these Infosumers satiated.

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