Unless you’ve been living under a rock you know by now that the world has been transformed by digitalisation. But what you might not know is that it has led to the rise of a new type of consumer, the active consumer. This has meant that everyone from big brands, marketers and small businesses have had to rethink their sales strategy. The old method of a linear sales funnel aimed at the passive consumer has been replaced by a sales cycle for the active consumer. In this blog, I am going to define what I mean when I say active consumer, outline the changes the consumer has undergone and what it means for your business. I will also provide some actionable tips that you can implement to help your business meet the needs of this new consumer, regardless of the size of your business.
Passive Vs Active Consumer
When I say Active Consumer I do not mean an athlete or someone who wears activewear. The active consumer is a consumer who actively engages with a brand or product. This is different from a Passive Consumer, they watch a video and that’s it, the end of their engagement. Whereas an active consumer watches the video and they also might create a review video, write a comment, blog or article. They also might join a forum or group and generate discussion, praise or criticism. The active consumer is innovating and co-creating with their products and services. The old consumer was a passive recipient and the new consumer is an active participant. This is due to the ease with which digitisation has allowed people to find information and self-publish content. For the marketing of your business this has created some new challenges you must overcome.
Understanding your new consumer.
If you have ever looked into insights/analytics you’ll know you can quickly find yourself lost. A plethora of numbers and variables will greet you. You probably won’t have the time or manpower to sift through these numbers to come up with a logical decision. Customer identities have become increasingly fragmented and harder to box. Trying to box them is often where people go wrong. Your consumer is not a passive research object. You should view your brand’s marketing as a collaborative process with your consumer. Whether they are aware of it or not, consumers assist brands in the marketing of their products and services. This can be seen in the movie or games industry with consumers producing fan art, videos and mods (modifications to games made by consumers). As a marketer of your business, it is your role to facilitate and coordinate with your brand’s community’s efforts. You need to view your active consumer as a resource and not just a source.
What does this mean for your brand’s marketing?
As mentioned already there is now less of a linear sales funnel. A sales funnel is a process. The consumer starts with a large number of brands to choose from. Each company’s marketing tactics whittle down the number of brands the consumer considers. After different stages, the successful marketing strategy leads to a conversion. The old view is that a company’s marketing pushed the consumer from start to finish. With the availability of the internet, the new consumer is more researched and want more meaningful experiences. This active evaluation means that the consumer approaches your business further down the sales funnel. 86% of Irish internet users say finding information on goods and services is what they use the internet for. Marketing your brand is not over once the product or service is purchased either. Postpurchase is an important time for the active consumer. If done correctly they can become a positive voice for your company. Repurchasing or creating content that will be marketing for your brand. This creates a sales cycle. However, if you fail to live up to their standards the active consumer can be a negative force, pointing out flaws in reviews, comments and forums.
Actionable steps for your business
So how does your business cater to this new consumer?
- Create informative Content – with the active consumer researching more you need to ensure you provide easily accessible and informative content about your brand. This includes a website and social media platforms and other forms of content like blogs, videos, podcasts etc.
- SEO (search engine optimisation) – Basically this boils down to making your content rank higher on a search page. Most people don’t scroll past the top search results so it is important that you rank high. For more on SEO, we have a beginner’s guide to it here. Included but often overlooked is local SEO – this is making your business easier to find to local consumers researching. Take searching for bakeries near you on Google Maps as one example. For more see our blog here.
- Use Loyalty Programs and Rewards for word-of-mouth – reward your consumers for staying with you and marketing your brand to others.
- Request and promote User Generated Content – this is a great way to help spread the positivity that the active consumer can bring to your brand by sharing their photos, videos, comments, reviews etc.
- Provide Customer Support throughout the product’s/service’s lifecycle – There are multiple ways this can be achieved. Having a chatbot/live messenger on your website. Personalised emails, both responding and sending. Social Media can be a great tool for dealing with customer queries and feedback.
The digital landscape has created a new consumer. One who actively researches and cocreates with a brand during a product’s or service’s lifecycle. While this new consumer can appear more demanding and challenging, they offer a brand far more in return. They can be your best marketers. In some cases spending more time and effort creating word of mouth content to other potential consumers than you could ever hope to employ. The actionable steps presented above will allow you to provide the active consumer with the information, support and experience to allow them to be the valuable member of your brand’s community.