Brand reputation and consumer decision-making

How do you get to be a futurist? Is there an application process or do you just keep ontop of trends and extrapolate forward like some kind of commercial sci fi writer.

The Society for New Communications Research has some futurists on their board and they’ve come up with some interesting research on how Web2.0 is affecting consumer behaviour:

  • 59.1% of respondents use social media to “vent” about a customer care experience
  • 72.2% of respondents research companies’ customer care online prior to purchasing products and services at least sometimes
  • 84% of respondents consider the quality of customer care at least sometimes in their decision to do business with a company
  • 74% choose companies/brands based on others’ customer care experiences shared online
  • 84% of respondents consider the quality of customer care in their decision to do business with a company at least sometimes
  • 81% believe that blogs, online rating systems and discussion forums can give consumers a greater voice regarding customer care, but less than 33% believe that businesses take customers’ opinions seriously
  • Search engines are the most valuable online tools for this research, according to respondents. Those rated of no value include micro-blogging sites like Twitter or Pownce (39%), YouTube (27%) and social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace (22%)

Nowhere to Hide

Web2.0 offers fantastic opportunities for brand engagement and positively affecting consumer decision making. It’s already being used to great effect by retail, travel, computing and lifestyle consumer goods (amazon, dell) where customer reviews, sharing of experiences and providing opportunities for good customer care increasingly being supported by marketing budgets.

Other sectors have been less successful and there are still many examples of this being done badly – corporate blogs writen by PRs, seeded reviews etc. With the deadline for web 2.0 no-tolerance on seeding coming up on May 26, the choice is either embrace Web2.0 and use it to create stronger relationships with your audience or climb back under that rock and hope this whole web thing is just a passing phase.