The most universal factor in marketing today is that consumers are busier than ever and their attention more taxed.
While Esther Dyson points out that attention is not truly fungible, it serves as an outstanding macro indicator of today’s changes in consumer behavior. And any imbalance of this magnitude invariably results in a correction.
This correction is manifesting itself in the profound re-assertion of word-of-mouth marketing as the dominant factor in purchasing and brand relationship, at the expense of other marketing. While word-of-mouth has always been at the center of smart campaigns, four factors conspire to amplify its impact and importance today:
- Plumbing: The Internet, especially social media, now provides the plumbing for word-of-mouth to drive consumer action more expediently.
- Links as currency: The highest volume of word-of-mouth today is a link, the Trojan horse for word-of-mouth. People on Facebook share approximately 1 million links every 20 minutes. We live in a social and economic environment driven by the electronic sharing of links and messages. As a result, people don’t seek information; information seeks people.
- The messenger matters: Given the abundance of media (Gen Y interacts on average 11 hours a day with connected screens and devices), consumption is most influenced by recommendations from friends, with upwards of 70% of shoppers stating that opinions from friends/family sway their decision-making. The trust in friends’ recommendations, their brands, encourages consumers to self-select word-of-mouth over company marketing.
- A Millennial shift: Digital natives, those born in the digital age, now make up 25% of the general population and represent $890 billion in purchasing power.