Social Media: Marketers are from Mars, Consumers are From Venus [Research]

What Consumers Really Want From Marketers

On social media platforms, marketers are from Mars and consumers are from Venus because there’s a big disconnect between what consumers want and what marketers think they want.

It’s as if marketers aren’t living in the real world and never buy anything for their own consumption. This behavior doesn’t surprise me since, in my experience, it’s very difficult for marketers to grasp the concept that they’re not the average consumer, even if they’re in the target market.

Recent IBM research underscores the Venus-Mars differences in terms of consumers’ reasons for engaging with businesses and brands on social media and marketers’ assumptions about what consumers want. In these recessionary times, top on consumers’ list are discounts and purchase. Yet it’s as if marketers have their heads in the sand because these two items are at the bottom of their lists. 

Before you write this off as an isolated piece of market research crafted for corporate reasons, examine Yahoo and DDBO research aimed at understanding how to build social relationships with customers and you’ll see a consistent pattern of marketer-consumer disconnect. In these findings, while marketers consistently underestimated consumer preferences, marketers correctly placed price, product attributes and proof points at the top of the list. 

That said, in terms of social shopping activities, you may be surprised to discover men are more active than women on five out of six attributes according to Performics-ROI Research. But when it comes to money, for once, they agree. At the top of their list, deals, coupons and specials, the two sexes are surprisingly close. 

As a marketer, you must understand why your prospects like you because all may not be fair in social media and shopping. Based on Nielsen data, more than one out three consumers “likes” a brand or celebrity to get a discount or special offer.  When you look specifically at North America, this ratio increases to almost one out of two customers. 

Marketers must recognize that a good proportion of consumers only like you on social media for the money. This is consistent with reasons consumers give for unliking brands on Facebook according to Exact Target. Roughly one out of four respondents either liked the brand for a one-time discount or didn’t get enough discounts. 

What’s a marketer to do?

Here are five suggestions to help marketers maximize their social media opportunities with consumers.

  1. Accept that you need to use discounts, specials and coupons to attract prospects on social media platforms.
  2. Leverage social media platforms to better understand your customers and what motivates them.
  3. Be aware of what your competition’s doing on online, on social media and in their retail locations because your customers will check while they’re in your store.
  4. Price your social media promotions and discounts to ensure that they at least break-even since that may be the only sale you’ll ever get from that customer.
  5. Provide additional reasons for customers to engage with you via post-purchase content to extend their product experience and/or related offers.

For consumers, it’s all about the money when it comes to shopping and social media – a fact marketers have to accept or, as in love, they’ll get hurt. This means marketers need to understand that consumers may only like you for your discounts and coupons. Therefore, you must find other ways to keep your prospects engaged and do the math to ensure that you at least break-even on any promotions you offer via social media platforms.

Given that marketers are from Mars and customers are from Venus, what would you recommend marketers do?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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