In The Age Of The Consumer

By June Ramli

Kuala Lumpur, Nov 16: The pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated the Age of the Consumer – a concept that consumers are more empowered than ever as they can access information about products and services over the Internet in real time. 
This is exceptionally evident amid COVID-19, as consumers were forced to change their  behaviours, particularly  noted in the pivot towards the digital space. 
They want more personalised content, faster service, better experiences – and they want them all now.   
As the economy ramps up in its recovery, it is reported that 73 per cent of Malaysians are now more comfortable to shop online and there have been talks about the possibility of “revenge consumption,” where consumers are willing to spend more to offset the shopping deprivation faced during the pandemic.
With this potentially leading to a flood of post-COVID purchases and surge in consumer spending, it is ever more crucial for businesses and marketers to understand what customers want and how to best engage with them, to leverage growth opportunities.   
To bridge this gap, Talkwalker, a leading consumer intelligence company, had recently launched its Social Media Trends Report, alongside HubSpot.
The report contains insights from over 70 marketing professionals and industry influencers and aims to support marketers and top global brands to plan successful strategies for 2022.  
We recently spoke to Talkwalker APAC and Japan Managing Director Benjamin Soubies (pictured above) on how marketers and businesses should prepare themselves for the anticipated rise in consumer spending.

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What does the Age of the Consumer really mean for brands, particularly in the post-COVID era?

What the Age of the Consumer essentially means for brands is that consumers are now in the driver’s seat with regard to opinion and brand perception.
Brands need to recognise this redistribution of control and influence over their narrative, and adapt in order to deliver customer-centric products and experiences. 
Take for example the fact that over half a billion more social media users have come online in the past year.
The pandemic has forced many stuck at home to go online for information, entertainment, and connection.
This has accelerated certain media consumption patterns and given rise to new formats of customer engagement such as audio platforms like Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces.
The state of the world during this pandemic, along with the events of last few years such as #BlackLivesMatter and the #MeToo movement has also given rise to a more socially-conscious consumer.
Today, brand inclusivity is brand critical.
Consumers want companies to take action on the social issues that matter to them most.

The Talkwalker and Hubspot Social Media Trends 2022 report is an essential guide on how to drive brand success at a time when consumers are paradoxically driving  brand conversations. 
The 10 trends we have identified are diverse game changers.
Its content is probably more in-depth than you would expect given that we have included the perspectives of 70 plus marketing leaders and experts such as Google’s Samit Malkani, Hilton’s Ivy Esquero, Universal Music Group’s Cassandra Tan, TikTok’s Shant Oknayan.
These trends are a launch pad for conversations that need to be expanded upon on what brand success means today. The role of social media platforms like TikTok and influencers, social selling, metaverses, and more.

The 10 social media trends we’ve identified may pose a challenge, especially in this fast-changing world where brands have to be live 24/7, engaging consumers across multiple platforms.
Read the report, and bookmark it.
It’s a resource you can return to throughout the year, with more than 50 actionable takeaways for brands and marketers.
Secondly, dive into Talkwalker’s blogs and social media conversations.
You can find us on talkwalker.com.
We have plenty of how-to articles and webinar discussions expanding on these top trends.
Finally, start working towards a 360-degree view of consumers.
This will allow you to understand which trends need priority action and for which markets.
The point of Talkwalker’s report and forecast is to give brands a headstart with their 2022 strategy, and we hope that your engagement with Talkwalker resources and the experts in our community will help activate that insight.

What is the outlook for marketers in Malaysia for the year ahead?  

Next year will be an interesting time, if not an exciting time for marketers in Malaysia and across the world.
Even as we see our economies begin to open up and international travel gradually restored, marketers will probably find their brands and consumers continually immersed in a hybrid environment – working between home and office, and networking both digitally and in-person.
This is where Talkwalker, can be leveraged to pinpoint the real-time conversations that are happening, and to discover the platforms and trends that brands need to engage in order to reach their target audience.

Do you think there is any relevance for brands to rely on influencers to market their products? Would this still be a trend moving forward? 

The influencer disruption was already starting to happen in pre-pandemic days. And we’ve only witnessed the pandemic speed things up with the rapid increase in social media usage and the rise of everyday influencers. In a 2021 survey by the Influencer Marketing Hub, 67 per cent of respondents reported using Instagram for influencer marketing
In 2022 and beyond, we expect to see the lines between social media and e-commerce become increasingly blurred, resulting in a more seamless and simplified journey for consumers. With platforms like TikTok introducing an e-commerce aspect and monetization model, there is even greater opportunity for brands to participate in social selling. And within the social media environment, influencers and their loyal follower base are going to be a resource that brands will want to leverage even more.
Talkwalker’s AI-enabled consumer intelligence technology will help brands accelerate their influencer marketing strategy by enabling brands and marketers to identify the ideal influencers, track sentiment and conversations associated with their influencer campaigns, as well as get closer to being able to measure the true return on their influencer investments.

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