Oct 18, 2007

A Vicious Cycle

Not that it should come as any surprise, but brands that treat their customers as enemies, that create advertising based around what they want to say, that view the public with a level of disdain, repeat these same mistakes when they show up online. Regardless of whether they’re in a 1.0 or 2.0 mode.

That’s because 2.0 is not a magic pill that can make a company more likeable. If anything, it exacerbates problems that are already there by giving consumers a place to vent their frustrations, e.g. the WalMart/Facebook fiasco. It shows exactly how high-handed they are with customers and how little actual conversation they’re willing to have. And because traditional brand advertising is less and less important (and visible) in consumers’ minds, they can’t put out shiny happy messages to counteract that perception.

Now what will be really interesting to see is how this affects business over the next 5 to 10 years. Will consumer-unfriendly businesses go under as a new wave of consumer-friendly companies takes their place. Or will the marketplace focus only on the product delivered and not the way it’s delivered, preferring things like price and selection over service.

That’s not a question anyone can answer right now and I suspect that the actual answer will vary from industry to industry and segment to segment. And that consumer unfriendly brands with clearly superior products will survive, whereas those with parity or subpar products won’t.

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