Consumer choice and social media


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Consumer choice and social media

  1. 1. Consumer choice process at social media context<br />Fragmentation means that more and more people begin to choose more and more brands. Denoted tendency appears to be a companies’ answer to consumer society postulated desires which in practice lead to big discomfort experienced by individuals. Overwhelming wide offering requires consumer to spend a lot of cognitive resources to choose an optimal option. If optimal choice (against consumer’s perceived optimum) can’t be chosen in volume of cases, consumer society will experience frustration. Our task is to construct a methodology (or concept) of unsatisfactory from inability of optimal choice redirection mechanism into constructive flow not establishing a producer dictatorship and not foisting one choice off to everyone.<br />As far as consumer choice is widening time spent for product choice grows, what requires more and more cognitive resources to spend on choice process. It seems logical to restrict choice somehow by leaving only typical options. But such statement wasn’t received by my counterparts because I break the main rule of marketing – Let them have a wide choice! Producer’s dictatorship (what to consume) is perceived negative in form, even if, per se, it brings added value by saving cognitive resources.<br />Appeared contradiction (between wide and artificially limited choice) can be settled by extrapolation of long-tail concept beyond the bonds of digital economy. In this case the solution is as following: through consumer self-selection (and reckoning in one of the groups – high or low-involved) we can solve the task of simultaneous satisfaction of two opposite desires – wide choice for interested in and limited to best options (customers ratings allow to form ‘hits’) for low-involved into purchasing cycle of customers.<br />Social media appears to be a set of channels let such recommendation system saving cognitive resources exists.<br />Hits and long tail can be viewed with different degree of width. For example, the broadest application is a category as a whole. But consideration of a category happens rarely and consumers define attributes important for them. Based on attributes sub-categories are formed which also consist of hits and long tail. So on set of concerned attributes is being widened until set of equally perceived products have left.<br />That’s why nowadays we face rising power of new type intermediaries – information intermediaries. Staying unnoticeable (i.e. Google and Facebook) they become essential for modern consumers. So what’s about brands in this decomposition circumstances? The point is that brand power will have grown – information pressure on consumer has grown dramatically. Brands stay an anchor of choice representing finished set of attributes put into sign (text, symbol). But pressure brand can have on consumers is falling. Brand represents an option of personality description of consumer and benefits to him. Henceforth brand doesn’t dictate to consumer, but consumer chooses appropriate brand. Consumers influence brand and brand influences consumers.<br />It’s necessary to consider that consumer society is informational overloaded. Marketer’s task is to construct signs (from attributes to holistic image – brand) simplifying ‘stimulus – reaction’ relation and give their attributive decomposition. Holistic signs (brands) decomposition is very cognitive consuming process, that’s why only high-involved (in category or product) consumer can perform this task of exploring a long tail.<br />We have to point out that considered adaptation of long tail concept assumes that the same brand can exist as a hit and as a long tail attribute decomposition simultaneously – optimal consumer choice is possible in each option. The difference is only in perceived offering value and post-purchase evaluation – consumer feels that it was his or her own choice, even if it concurs with most people choice completely.<br />Evolution of emotional web – semantic analysis and generation of recommendation – attribute orientation will be replaced by emotional component. By now many industries is facing offering commodification, so new level of brand perception will play a growing role in person life context. For example: if you want to go a café you can focus on such characteristics as nice ambience, certain attendance, maybe even intriguing meeting.<br />One or another offering description consists of two aggregative components: attributes (from technical to positioning characteristics) and consumption experience.<br />Therewith every segment feels the need for demonstration its uniqueness, therefore brand as personal attribute is essential. Here we are talking about high-involved brands.<br />In the movement of aforesaid the following can be stated: choice by itself staying wide becomes predefined by society (as set of individuals and their social connections). Existence of broad but in essence limited set of choices will be felt by society (in the system framework it has access to), therefore it’s necessary to provide constructive system destruction, so-called ‘million plus one’ choice which is an opposition to existent set of choices and plays cognitive and economic resources reallocation role.<br />Considering new framework as a system, we can assign set of functions as followings:<br />Verification – consumers have an access to post-purchase experience of others and to set of product attributes based on which they make a choice and compare it with choices of others.<br />Falsification – disproof of set of choices uniqueness and widening this set (‘million plus one’ consumption circumstances principle)<br />Sanitization – removal from long-tail offerings inapplicable to society needs – and faster and cheaper. Simulation researches are possible.<br />Coordination of information – creation of transparent framework of interaction between consumers and producers that can change and unify rules of competition, particularly adding an opportunity to use game theory for quantatitive forecasting of outcomes.<br />Resource saving – system reduces pressure on consumers (even choice automation for low-involved choices is possible) and gives certainty to producers by reduction of venturesome capital usage.<br />Shaping of optimal firm size – based on consumer’s perceived differences of offering.<br /> We see here following: from the broad set of offerings consumer chooses the most popular (making them hits) based on others consumer experience (access to post-purchase experience), setting up a brand dictatorship but brand not as producer’s rather than consumer’s creation. However we understand that it’s impossible to unify consumers focuses therefore existence of big amount of niche products (so called ‘long tail’) makes choice more conscious. What happens: one who doesn’t want to choose buys the best product (by others opinion), another has an access to broad variety of goods any producer or intermediary can’t afford to have. Plus in this case as we can see consumers have an ability to build brands not only to consume the companies created. However those who are willing to consume get this meaning of brand simpler– by means of post-purchase evaluation and adequacy product to needs verification.<br />Intermediary only provides a capability of consumer access to such system (content is created by users); producers provide positioning and virtual information about offering. Consumer delusion in this case always reveals and has a negative influence to producers so that institutionalizes an absence of opportunistic behavior. Influence to consumers can be implemented at all touch points. In point-of-sale attention concentrates on established brand perceptions – our goal is not to change it here.<br />Thereby further development of this theme makes modernization of market mechanism based on truly marketing principles possible. <br />