Friday, February 18, 2005

The One-On-One Interaction With Consumer

From The Hindu Business Line Involve consumers in creating brands.

COMPANIES must involve consumers in creating brands, as there has been a "mind-boggling" rise in consumer-to-consumer communication even as corporates' own understanding of value creation has blurred, said Prof Venkat Ramaswamy of the University of Michigan Business School.

Prof Ramaswamy said the Internet, along with other communication channels such as SMS and blogs, has meant that customer experiences are shared more rapidly and widely, what he termed a "word-of-mouth" overdrive. For instance, over a billion SMS messages are exchanged everyday. Because of such an explosion of information, consumers are much more in the know about the product, in a position to make comparisons easily and are ready to experiment.

On the other hand, with increased convergence, companies have difficulty in figuring out their competitors, which industry they are in and how to gain the competitive edge.

Such being the case, companies can engage consumers in a two-way interaction and deliver the experience that they want. Apple, he said, has created an environment for buying and sharing music with its iTunes portal, from which 250 million songs have been downloaded.

Responding to a question, he said that the traditional methods of advertising may well die. Advertisers need to learn how consumers interact with new media. Clients can create their own advertising along with the agency, bringing in the customer experience.

How does an advertiser create this interaction? How do they get people to their site? How do they get people to click on a barcode, text a number?

This is a new media, and advertisers will find a way to utilize it. It will be more personal and be harder to abuse. But if it is used properly, it will be the best for of advertising to date, and the cheapest.

Think about it if Nike or Procter Gamble could advertise to you anytime, anywhere on your mobile phone. If given permission, how much is this worth?

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