Every advertising company will firmly agree that the internet has revolutionised and globalised the consumer market; with the internet transcending barriers of time and space, a consumer can purchase a desired product anywhere in the world at any time, no longer restricted and confined by the limitations of opening shop times.
The Internet with its sheer vastness of available websites to browse also serves as a database for a wealth of branded products, rewarding a consumer with that notion of ‘choice’ like never before. This magnitude of variation of course creates fierce competition amongst companies to keep their product trendy, current, and above all – true to the target audience’s needs.
To maintain a firm seat at the head table within the consumer market, companies consequently have strived to find new and innovative ways to give their brand the edge above competitors. One way they have set about achieving this is by using social media as an avenue and platform to strengthen and very much personalise the relationship between a consumer and a brand.
The term social media speaks for itself really; it is a ‘social’ environment that connects you with the people around you or as Facebook so adequately puts it within their slogan: “Facebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them.” Even though evident within some cases (particularly on platforms such as Twitter) social media is used to promote businesses and subsequently upholds a level of formality; most of the time social media is used as a form of leisure and a form of self-expression.
Considering social media is concerned with the lifestyle and outside world of a consumer, imagine how powerful a marketing tool it could be if a company and its brand could tap into the lifestyle of a target consumer. Thus merging the two worlds together.
Sites like Tumblr build on this concept of self-identity; you personalise your profile by reblogging popular images that are associated with your lifestyle. Users can reblog popular brands that they like and also express what that brand product means to them by reblogging images that are linked to that product. i.e. ‘vans’ brand logo with images of ‘skateboarding’ and ‘California.’ It humanises the brand and allows the user to create a narrative for that brand. This is a powerful form of indirect product placement, and for the consumer, it feels like they are actively imprinting on the brand when in reality they are just further endorsing the product. This illusion of control and a shared power relationship between a consumer and a brand I believe is the future of the consumer market.
Written by guest blogger Adam Chapman, BA Honours Media Studies student.