Brands at risk of self-destruction

Alterian, the leader in customer engagement technology and solutions, today published a new report illustrating a major social change in the way consumers listen to and engage with brands.

Only 5 per cent (4 per cent UK and 6 per cent US) of consumers surveyed in the report trusted advertising and 8 per cent (9 per cent UK and 6 per cent US) believed 'what the company says about itself'. This equates globally to nearly $426 billion spent on ineffectual advertising activity in 2009 alone.

In stark contrast, the research found that consumers actively engaging in the use of social media feel more in control of relationships and more positive about their connection with brands in general. A third (31 per cent UK and 35 per cent US) of respondents using social media believe that 'companies are genuinely interested them'.

"The report highlights that the majority of marketers are simply not hitting the right note with their target audience," commented David Eldridge, CEO, Alterian. "Consumer trust is at an all-time low. What we are witnessing is an era of individualisation. It is no longer adequate to adopt a strategy of mass broadcast and one-way conversations. Brands should be trying to understand communities rather than focusing on siloed communication channels."

The report highlights that many organisations still do not recognise the need to change, with 58 per cent of respondents believing that the lack of a social media strategy was due to the absence of board support. As global advertising levels are predicted to increase by 0.8 per cent in 2010, the report calls for businesses to redirect their marketing spend into better understanding their audiences, which means investment in appropriate skills across every department to make the most of the opportunity that new media affords them.

Eldridge concludes, "Traditional marketing is dead. To know and communicate to individuals, to a specific individual, should be the strategic and tactical goal of all brands and organisations. This will present the number one marketing and wider business challenge over the coming decade. The question is how quickly can brands evolve their marketing strategy? If brands are ready to increase marketing budgets let's ensure that we focus that resource in the right places."

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