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Skeptical consumers seek out brand, product realities
Are today's consumers more skeptical of marketing communications? There's a growing trend for digging up as much information on a brand or product as possible from multiple sources; information that could make or break a sale or relationship.
More than half (56%) of Americans are actively seeking out as much information as they can about brands, or products, with whom they intend to engage or have already engaged. Dubbed "Seekers", their numbers are growing, according to research (.pdf) by Harris Interactive, up from 50% in 2012.
Their counterparts, "Bystanders", have dropped in number from 49% in 2012 to 44% today.
While marketing communications and campaigns provide information and benefits of a brand, consumers are looking to find out whether those claims are panning out, and to discover more about how a company conducts itself.
Seekers are also keen to influence others with their findings. Nearly half (47%) have tried to influence friends' and family's opinions of a company after learning details of how a company conducts itself, compared with just 25% of Bystanders. They are also more likely to share their findings via social media - 40% versus 26% of Bystanders.
If a Seeker finds something they don't like, they act on it. Sixty-one percent of Seekers decided not to do business with a company after finding out something about the way it conducted itself.
The study highlights the importance of a good online reputation, be it for sales support or customer service. Social and mobile enables word-of-mouth to spread beyond family and friend circles and the information being passed around is increasingly influencing consumer behavior.
It is important companies maintain visibility within channels being used for research consumers, and pro-actively manage negative or potentially damaging situations. The knock-on effect is that this pro-active approach by companies, in itself, will become a positive finding for Seekers.
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