How The Digital Medium Has Changed Consumer Experiences
Recently, I’ve been so addicted to an American television show called Mad Men, which presents everything about the advertising industry in New York in the 1960s. I was fascinated by the vintage style hand-drawn posters and flyers, they looked amazing but definitely time consuming. Suddenly, it hit me with the truth that those advertising strategies have changed drastically, compared with the now and the past.
Traditional media, such as TV, radio, billboard are focused on one-way communication. Consumers can only receive message from marketers. Due to the constant development of technology and the emergence of the Internet, consumers were then able to have two-way communication with marketers. And now in the age of social media, we can interact with the brand as well as generate content by sharing photos on social media platforms.
Digital media has changed our life, improved our productivity and facilitated how we interact and communicate. But is it beneficial for consumers, or just another tool for marketers to manipulate consumers with?
Take shopping as an example. In the past, marketers used flyers, posters and other traditional medium to lure consumers instore. Now on the Internet, consumers can shop anytime and anywhere they want through E-commerce systems. Now, virtual reality has brought the shopping experience to another level. This year, eBay and Myer launched the world’s first virtual reality department store, which allowed consumers to look through every single detail of thousands of products without leaving home. This evidence indicates that the digital evolution not only changed the communication between the brand and consumers, it also enhanced consumers’ experience by adding value to it.
Speaking of digital strategy, how can we not talk about social media? Data tells us the two most popular social network sites, Facebook and Instagram, has 1.71 billion and 500 million monthly active users respectively. Such incredible amount of users means there is a huge opportunity for marketers to engage with consumers through social media sites. The most effective way to engage with its audiences on social network sites is developing a brand page, constantly renewing posts and replying to comments with immediacy.
Digital has empowered consumers, they control whether or not to engage with the brand. Consumers not only receive messages from marketers, but can also send messages of their own to influence other consumers and their perception and valuation of the brand. It is called electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM).
Social media is all about sharing. Internet-users’ message-sharing behaviours are motivated by the need for self-enhancement. When consumers perceived an online ad as relevant to themselves, they are more likely to share those messages. Consumers also use eWOM to construct and express their own identity. For example, I shared the ads from ‘Toms’ a couple of times on my Facebook page, because I admired their idea of “One for one”: if consumers buy one pair of shoes and they will give another pair of shoes to people in need. By sharing these posts, I showed my support to the brand as well as the action of donating shoes to people who are in need.
Digital has definitely changed and elevated traditional media. Marketers have shifted from flyers and posters to social media platforms to interact with consumers. By doing this, we can create effective two-way communication with consumers and build a mutually beneficial relationship.
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