The Power of the Consumer – Unilever

The Power of the Consumer – Unilever, it was all over the news this morning. Unilever threatened to withdraw their ad budgets from the major social media channels if they don’t tighten up on their control of content. Finally, the only thing that will make businesses change has spoken, money.

With the level of budget committed by Unilever, social media companies cannot afford to ignore the message, however, the real message has not come from Unilever but from consumers. According to Unilever’s research, it is the consumers who are losing faith in brands that advertise on channels that are not doing enough to control content, be that extremist views or inappropriate views and images.

If this is the case, this situation highlights the fact that “the customer is always right”. Now, there may be times when we all hear and read comments from customers and clients alike and think they must be mad. But ultimately, if that is what they believe, then it is correct, at least in the short term. IF we do not reflect the views of our customers we will not have a business. Often this can relate to new product development and customer service, but it is equally as important when we consider how we market our business and brand. Customers will have view as to what messages resonate with them as well as where they want to see the information and that is where research becomes essential in any marketing activity.

Remember, marketing is not about telling customers and prospects what we want them to hear, it is about giving them the information they want in a format that they will read and helping them make a decision to purchase, hopefully from you.

To change customer views, we not only have to listen to them, but we need to keep communicating with them continuously and in the long term, gently and slowly educating them. This takes commitment and can not be ad-hoc, it doesn’t work.

You can never spend enough time understanding your customers, they are essential, they have an invaluable role to play in your business and not just purchasing products and services but in forming your messaging and positioning.

Let me know what you think.