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Consumers Increasingly Control Connections

by Paren Patel , 15.10.2013

The ability to be connected anywhere really is great. The power to have an instant message conversation with friends from Delhi to the Democratic Republic of Congo at no extra cost all on my commute home is something that would have been unimaginable a mere decade ago. Times are changing faster than ever, however, and as technology giants are looking for their next big wave of gizmos to bring them smartphone- and tablet-like growth and profits, we’re starting to see something of a slight reassessment by consumers in how they remain connected.

One of the pitfalls of the most popular social networks for younger consumers, as this humorous article demonstrates, is that things automatically lose their cool factor once your parents jump on the bandwagon.  As a result, younger consumers are finding that privacy is becoming an issue for them, especially when parents start trying to prove they’re cool in a public arena like Facebook.  Perhaps as a result of this we’re starting to see less mainstream platforms gain in popularity.

Further to this, people are understandably becoming tired of the constant bombardment of what is a lot of the time, pretty useless information about an acquaintance’s choice of lunch or the fact that they missed their bus in the morning.  It’s no wonder consumers are starting to become more discerning when it comes to social networks, with 70% globally agreeing that people share too much information on social networking sites, up from 56% in 2010, and 45% claiming to have cut back on the time they spend on these networks, up from 34%.

This is not to say that consumers are leaving social networking altogether, but they are cutting down the time spent on them, whilst also adopting a multi-channel approach, seeking more quality connections that are relevant and focused from specialist platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram, which have all become more prominent over the last few years.   It is these very connections that are empowering consumers, particularly those who make the best use of them such as the cutting-edge Super Connected Consumers identified by GfK Consumer Trends.  The plethora of information and opinions available online from peers as well as expert reviews means that power is firmly in the hands of the customer, with companies having to work harder for brand loyalty.  Visibility is a key factor, and with a movement towards quality connections on more focused platforms, companies need to consider adopting a multi-faceted approach to their online and social media marketing campaigns.

The extra effort involved in gaining that brand loyalty and maintaining it is however more valuable than ever. Social networks are not only an effective way of improving brand awareness and consumer engagement through company or brand profile pages, Twitter feeds, and YouTube channels, they have also fuelled a peer-to-peer marketing revolution through likes, retweets, recommendations and brand ambassadors. This movement is a key element of our global consumer trend, “We’re all Influencers Now”.