As the physical world becomes more complex, one of the most important roles of the digital world is to connect people who need something with the people who have it.
Networked social groups and marketplaces are merging to create market networks. Is it just a fad, or is it a true evolution of how we find and purchase things? Will this keep evolving into closer connections between consumers and brands. And will advertising and marketing keep up with these changes?
theright.fit’s Creative Director, Peter Bidenko, asked some of the people at the forefront of digital change what they’re doing, how it’s working and what the future holds.
Bonnie Borland is the founder of The One Social, a marketing agency that saw the need to change from the traditional model.
She believes that consumers are responsible for brand health. “Branding is now becoming the result of a two-way conversation between a brand and its audience. Social media has allowed consumers to have a voice, unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.”
“Brands can now cultivate a community of loyal fans, customers, and consumers who are more accessible than ever, thanks to these new platforms, tools, and social media. This creates the potential for more direct conversations to take place between brands and their audience.”
Similarly, Jessica Ruhfus founded Collabosaurus to assist brands in interacting with their customers online and especially through social media. As a navigator of these every changing waters, she believes that right now “we are more connected than ever to the brands we love and experience everyday, however with advertising so blatantly merging with our social habits, we’ll continue to evolve our digital interactions. The emergence of online marketplaces and social media networks themselves are purely reflections of our desires to achieve outcomes and connections quickly, affordably and from a pool of potential choices.”
B.B.E is a technology driven VC company with a strong tech background. Strategist, Henry Innis believes the mass market is dead and that we’re seeing traditional brand equity replaced by online platforms delivering the same trust between consumer and provider.
Innis argues that, “the networked economy is eating away the concept of mass market products and services. Consumption and production of goods will become more personalised and peer to peer, along with technology platforms, will fuel that interaction going forward”.
Indeed manufacturing is even shifting in order to deliver a more personalised product. Consider that just 10 years ago, a simple 3D printer cost around $18,000. Today it costs just $400.
Change is happening across all industries. One might expect the building industry to be a little more traditional in its marketing. Not so says Thirdi Group’s Luke Berry.
Thirdi made the decision to walk away from traditional media such as print to, “invest in [their] own marketplaces and leverage off [their] clients and suppliers social foot print to achieve the same ‘lucrative reach’ as the newspaper”.
“A big part of my budget would be allocated to advertise in one of Sydney’s leading weekend newspapers. It would have a circulation of say 350,000 people it would cost me $15-$20k every time.”
They decided to make a shift and are already benefiting from the results. “We worked out that if we engaged with 500 past and future clients (assuming each has the international standard average of 350 friends on Facebook) and secure the support of 150 suppliers (assuming each has 1000 followers on social media), we could secure the same circulation as the newspaper, however do it at a fraction of the cost and have full control over our content and how its delivered.” In essence, creating their own market network.
Nick Murdoch from Sydney-based Yango Media takes a firm and pragmatic approach. “There would seem little doubt these opportunities will continue as long as the new marketplaces are solving problems, real problems for their customers”, he says. “I only see the opportunity multiplying as digital natives (consumers that have only ever known a connected world) grow up, their spending power increases and digitally connected businesses continue to disrupt traditional business models. “
Many of the people who buy our products and interact with our brands have never known any other world. People looking down into their hands wherever they happen to be is not going to stop any time soon. A significant nail in the coffin for the mass market? You’d think so.
Lara Gray is Product Management Consultant and raises an important issue about privacy. Simply that there is no issue. She quotes Cisco’s 2013 Annual Security Report, “most Generation Y employees believe the age of privacy is over (91%) and are willing to sacrifice personal information for socialization online. Personal data is a currency we have become willing to trade in our recent evolution.” What are we trading it for? Speed and ease.
Nick Bell owns WME, a flourishing Melbourne digital agency and is a big believer in market networks. Rather than merely one-off transactions, a market network provides a long-term solution to people’s specific problems. He gives an example, “a market network for the events industry operates in a network-type pattern whereby a single event planner can reach out to his or her network of florists, caterers, and photographers to facilitate the planning of an event”.
“In today’s times, efficiency is everything, and a service that can satisfy this while still maintaining attention to detail is highly favoured. The market network model could very well be the answer that many consumers are looking for. Likewise, market networks favour the service professional. By turning a professional network into a useable and commercially valuable resource, the market network can help to facilitate long-term working relationships.”
Another at the coalface of disruption is Peter O’Leary from the AMBA Agency. “Curation is the new currency – now in high-demand – as we all want someone to sort through the mess and tell us just what we need to know.”
When brands make it easy for the consumer to navigate to exactly what they need, then they’re going to be successful.
“In China, the social platforms such as Weibo and WeChat have fully integrated the marketplace with social networking. It’s one click to buy – every time,” says O’Leary. “In this crazy cluttered world, what do we want? Shortcuts. Nothing new here. Just human nature.”
O’Leary provides a fascinating set of stats for purchasing behaviour. “At the top line we’ll glance across the best 3 to 5 – and then look more closely at a maximum of three. If the first option is good, the search stops. 75% of buying decisions online are made inside 18 second.”
And that, it seams, is precisely where we’re headed. Speed and ease. Trust and connections.
Market networks give us places to find what we need, with other like-minded people already having done our homework for us. We’re bombarded with clutter and irrelevancies. We need ways to sort through it and get to what we need. And fast.
This need for speed is fueled by both sides of the funnel. By digitally transforming their businesses and how they interact with their consumer, marketers are making the process more efficient, more desirable and lightening fast.
But with greater speed comes ever increasing expectation from the consumer. If it’s not fulfilled, well they just go elsewhere. And that somewhere else is a market network which they’ll become part of to fulfill the two essential criteria they have. Trust and speed.
Don’t miss our opinion piece featured on
B&T: Opportunities multiply as digital natives grow up.