Has Digital Technology Shifted Traditional Brand-Consumer Relationship?

[The following article is a collaboration between a fellow team-mate, Suraj Amin and I for a competition we participated.]

​In times of the World Wide Web and omnipresent dotcoms, businesses across the globe have aggrandized their prominence with the internet bust. The world has so much information floating around that even if we logged it into a database powered by a super algorithm, it still wouldn’t be able to dichotomise the numbers.

The entire world knows what the Germans counselled. ‘der Kunde ist König’. The Customer is King. But with companies in every nook, corner and domain, this statement has become more than just a good ol’ moniker. The Customer IS King. Be it any industry, business sustainability depends on whether the customer is feeling significant and that’s exactly where the challenge lies. Is your company attracting new business as well as retaining its regular customers? Are your company’s policies and strategies propelling your business northward?

20 years back, answers to these would demand a flip through the log books. However, digitisation has supplanted that measure for good.
The dynamic of the world’s modus operandi has undergone a massive metamorphosis. Here are the key alterations in Customer-Brand behaviour in recent times:

1. Multi-channelling, a TON of options and the shift in loyalty -

Before Digital Technology waved its magic wand, the purchasing routine of a customer was pretty uncomplicated. All that one had to do was go to a marketplace, choose from a couple of options and select the best product according to personal preference. Enter the internet. The same customer now has the power to buy products and brands from across the globe, quite literally. Multi-channeling has exposed customers to a truckload of options with the convenience of doorstep delivery. With tens of companies selling the same product, the main competition boils down to whether the brand can provide value for the customer’s money and continue to do so for as long as they intend to stay associated. Brand loyalty is not a measure of projection of sales anymore. Businesses need to be on the qui vive to attract new customers and retain old ones.

2. Product Reviews-

The availability of options presents indecisiveness on a plate. Customers now have a voice of their own. The Web is replete with review portals and forums handing potential customers access to comments and reviews about a particular product before buying. Customers no longer cling to goodwill for a brand if there are others offering way more value for money.

3. The Social Media effect -

Consumers have been given a plethora of channels to laud as well as criticize brands. What makes brands wary of this internet boom is the rising intolerance among Indian consumers. A recent example would be about ‘Mocambo’, a popular fine dining restaurant in Kolkata, who shut its door on a woman just because she was accompanied with her driver. A story like this would have not reached the limelight a few years back but thanks to social media, it had over a million people talking about it. In 2 days, the restaurant’s ratings on Zomato plummeted to 1.8/5 with 8000+ negative ratings. But, as it turns out, social media is a coin with two different sides. If a brand really caters to its customers, it can be rest assured that Netizens will propel the business to unmatched glory. The mammoth rise in affinity for DBS Group’s Pulse candy is one such success story. The company created a 100 crore business rather rapidly, only through word of mouth and social media publicity advocated by its avid consumers.

4. Data Analytics –

There is good news for businesses as well. Brands are now capable of channeling their marketing plans to the ideal target audience. Tools like AdWords and personalized content often seem less intrusive to customers, thus enhancing its efficacy. An ancillary industry which evaluates consumer data for brands to forecast growth, demand and sales has emerged over the past decade.

5. Brand Collaboration –

Brands have started product placement campaigns with popular content creators which have been instant hits. TVF has collaborated with Tata Tiago on a new show, “TVF Tripling” which centers around 3 siblings going on a road trip in a Tata Tiago. TVF has had similar previous associations with Uber and Kingfisher. These new means of promotion offer brands with high personal connect with audiences improving brand value.
6. Customer Service –

With the power of technology, companies are now equipped to serve customers with year-long immediate customer service. Customers are always looking for the best value for money and improved after sales service has given brands an edge in achieving that demand. 24*7 online support has bridged the gap between customers and the brand. 
Has this Digital Era settled for good? Only time shall tell. Because if there’s one thing we can predict about technology it’s that it is unpredictable. After all, our most trusted brand when it comes to grocery-shopping is still the market baniya.

So has digital life deflected conventional Brand-Consumer relationship beyond reproach?

We’ll let you be the judge of that.

- Alchemists