• Tim Herrera

When consumers amplify their voices, brands listen. Or at least they should.

Maybe it’s mainly due to social media, but today’s consumers are exercising a strong voice and speaking out when they feel brands are acting irresponsibly. Think about public reactions to Uber or Pepsi.

Amy Avery, Chief Intelligence Officer at Droga5, writes about this trend in the article How amplified consumer voices are changing the role of brands. In her commentary, Avery writes “For a brand, that means you have to both walk the walk and talk the talk, because nothing is getting past consumers anymore.”

Consumers know social media is powerful. We see if every day on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets. People have found they can recruit others for their particular causes and their efforts are having a significant impact. Brands are hesitant to admit there is a direct connection between the consumer crusades and changes they make, but there sure if a lot of evidence out there to the contrary.

In the New York Times article “Social Media as a Megaphone to Pressure the Food Industry”, writer Stephanie Strom tells the story of Renee Shutters, a parent who saw results in her social media efforts to get food makers to change the food dyes used and the way they use them. Matthew Egol, of the consulting firm Booz & Company, said that while brands can boost their images via social media that complaints “sometimes become magnified in an online environment.”

A Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study found that “81% of consumers say they will make personal sacrifices to address social, environmental issues.” People feel strongly about important global matters and they decide with their wallets. And I think we all see evidence of these decisions on our social media feeds when we read comments about specific brands and the good/bad things they do. Brands that don’t “walk and walk and talk the talk” can get pushed around online.

We are seeing a heightened social consciousness among consumers. Many of us will not buy a certain product for reasons ranging from disagreeing with a stance taken by a CEO to not liking the politics of spokespeople. And consumers are more than happy these days to post their thoughts and opinions online and those thoughts and opinions reach the brands. There’s no doubt about that.

When consumers amplify their voices brands listen, or at least they should.

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