consumers' connectivity with the brands that has changed to fundamentally new ways in the today's time. The paper has discussed how the new and digital age has created an impact on the perceptions of the consumers due to which their ways of connecting to the brand has changed as the world has penetrated into the epoch of technological advancements. How the new media is playing an important role for the marketers and brand in connecting to the customers has been under discussion.
Consumer Relationship with Brand
Brands are considerably one of the vital and imperative assets for the companies and business, and the brand management is one of the core areas of focus for the marketers. In order to manage the brand carefully and vigilantly, marketers have to largely focus on creating a large and a loyal customer database. However, the changes in the technology and media have provided with new ways for the brands connecting to the customers. The traditional ways and means of engaging with the customers has changed with the passage of time (Batey, 2008).
As the world has evolved into the epoch of twenty first century, the technological advancements and innovations have captured almost every facet of human life. In this regard, it has also come to notice that experts nowadays claim that "Consumers today connect with brands in fundamentally new ways." (Harvard Business Review, 2013) From a personal thought, I totally agree to this statement.
The media channels and the World Wide Web has become the most dominant aspect that makes the consumers connect with brand in fundamentally new ways. This is particularly due to the reason that number of internet users from all over the world is considerably increasing and are incessantly actively being in touch with one another through the social media in diverse areas of interest. As a consequence of it, these media channels have gone beyond the control of both manufacturers and retailer, who used to be the direct source of connecting to the consumers in earlier times. This also conveys the message that the older and conventional ways of designing the marketing strategies need to be transformed that can be in harmony with the brand relationships to the consumers (Harvard Business Review, 2013).
Experts and marketers have brought the fact to the forefront that the purchase is not the end of the relationship for the customers, indeed, they seek to create and continue an on-going relationship with the brand. This is one of the eminent reasons due to which the connection of customers with the brand has changed as they wish to enjoy, advocate and have a bond with the brand during their on-going association with the brand (Middleton, 2012). In addition, the customers prefer to have more and more information related to the brand experience before they can make a purchase, thus, they are more likely to experiment on the new media. This shift in the change of customers' perception brought the digital marketing to surface. Therefore, the brands can only meet up the expectations of the customers in case if they gain customer insights instead of only having their focus on increasing sales volume (Middleton, 2012).
Experience sharing with friends on a single platform is one of the widespread elements that empower the general people to connect with a particular brand. Besides, it has been observed that the experience sharing, comparisons and reviews of brands are considered more important than brands speaking about themselves. This is because the ultimate perception of the consumers still remains the same that they wish to have an apparent and obvious brand promise and offering, and this can be measured from the new media by experience sharing (Solis, 2011).
As the world has advanced into the digital era, companies and marketers have profoundly noticed the fact that consumers are more heavily relying on digital interactions. This means that after making or experiencing a purchase, the consumers often engages with the brand through social media. In fact, core focal point of the marketers have always been building brand awareness through their marketing strategies, however, considering the changes in the nature of the consumers touch points, marketers strongly argue that consumers are connecting with brands in fundamentally new ways (Solis, 2011).
This statement can be well explained from the example that someone else's suggestion and advocacy has become the essential and leading element when making a purchase in many categories. This elucidates the fact that how significant the social media networking has become in a life of a common person. Considering this fact, the consumer's decision journey has been explained in four stages: consider (means the selection of brand), evaluate (means to have input from peers and reviewers), buy and enjoy and have a bonding. The new media provides the opportunity to the customer to evaluate as well as advocate the brand simultaneously based on their and other's experiences with the brand (Fuggetta, 2012).
The new four stages of consumer's decision journey have explicated the reality that customers are more focused on experimenting with the social media. Therefore, brands should leverage the platform of social media so that they can have a clear customer promise through communication, which would aid them in building and gaining trust by continuous improvements through constant interaction that would ultimately lead them to innovation beyond expectations (Fuggetta, 2012).
A very good example in this regard is of Virgin Atlantic, who is in constant touch with their customers as they include travel tips from crew members on its Face book page. This is not the only aspect, as they are frequently in touch with their customers on Twitter specifically in rapidly changing situations. Moreover, to improve their brand and have a better relationship with their customers, they also offer a taxi-sharing system. Furthermore, a company website is also available where customers have the opportunity to exchange information, stories, and can even advice to the company for the better options (Barwise & Meehan, 2010).
With the digital age, the consumers are more interested to have an open and clear interaction with the brands that they are consuming. However, one cannot also ignore the fact that many of the brands have easily understood the new needs and demands of the consumers with respect to the open communication. Indeed, the thing that attracted the marketers in the online space is the targeted message that is delivered to the consumers, which also leads to consumer engagement. The targeted messages about the brand serve the needs of the brand as the customers are always in search of brand information before having an experience with it (Mathur, 2012).
Search marketing (SEM) is currently measured as one of the top lead generation methodologies by various brand categories such as automotives and durables. Nevertheless, the new media and the internet are playing a vital role, as the customers are able to find the exact information that is needed through the platform, and has contributed to the ways customers connected with the brands (Mathur, 2012).
More and more brands are nowadays taking the advantage of the new media to stay connected to their consumers. Few examples in this regard include Bayer that has created a Facebook page so that they can promote and advertise their medicines especially designed for women. Moreover, the company has also launched an online blood glucose monitoring system that is particularly catering the young people, who are suffering from diabetes (Ray, 2010).
GlaxoSmithKline is another example that has adopted the new media to stay connected to their customers by creating awareness films on YouTube website for various diseases like restless-legs syndrome. The new-age social media websites are a strong medium of open communication with the customers (Ray, 2010).
Another aspect that has been highlighted by brands and marketers is that the customers' connectivity to the brand is based on the entire experience of the purchase. Therefore, the employee recognition is another significant component to consider, which can facilitate in strengthening and intensifying the relationship of the customer with the brand. This is relatively due to the reason that employee recognition begets to promising behaviors with discretionary efforts developing an emotional as well as social connection between the customers and the brand (Baker, 2004).
One of the negative aspects of consumer connectivity with brands in fundamentally new ways that has come to the surface exhibits that the new and different trend of consumers' connection with the brands increasingly making companies today increasingly feel under attack from the dissatisfied customers and are being the reason of threat for them. The social-networking such as blogs, tweets, text messages and so forth weapons in this regard are imposing large-scale damage to the company's reputation and are resulting in more and more dissatisfy customers, because the companies are not able to meet the requirements of the customers in responding them (Okonkwo, 2010).
Due to this reason many of the brands are uncertain and reluctant to adopt the new media as their marketing strategies that can openly connect them to…