Encouraging Customer Self-Organization


TrendPOV

Here is a repost of an interview with myself by Dr. Amy Vanderbilt at TrendPOV.  I like Dr. V for her ability to really draw out the best in people.  Here she tackles a topic of great complexity and makes it feel like an everyday conversation.  If you ever have an opportunity to work with Dr. V you will be deeply rewarded with the outcome.

On a side note, I felt so comfortable that I forgot that I was on air – you can see my eyes wandering, yikes.  Next time I’ll tape a sign on the ceiling that says “Look Down”.  Anyway – it’s an interesting topic so please watch and let me know what you think.

From Trend POV

Social media is no longer just a way to reconnect with friends; it has become an integral part of daily life that is rapidly gaining traction in the business world. Social media now provides a format for customers to self-organize in a way that creates a competitive market for goods and services where both the customers and the vendors can benefit. The depressed economy has brought people together to share advice and zero in on great deals through group buying.

As defined on Wikipedia.com, “Group buying, also known as collective buying, offers products and services at significantly reduced prices on the condition that a minimum number of buyers would make the purchase.” Originating from China, group buying, called tuángòu grew from the practice of haggling and has now infiltrated the online world in many parts of the globe. Notable sites include Groupon, LivingSocial and MyCityDeal.

Unlike China’s deal strategy that is self-organized and executed, most of the group buying in Europe and North America is done using online intermediaries who charge vendors fees that can be as much as 50 percent of the deal. Group buying has been gaining consumer popularity for three years now; however, group buying in the business sector is still in its infancy. Despite Groupon having over 100 million subscribers that had bought over 60 million Groupons by September 2011, skeptics suggest the trend will not last.

Consumers may be getting saturated by email overload from deal sites competing for their attention. China is struggling amidst accusations of selling fake goods; almost a fourth of the 6000 group buying Web sites shut down in 2011 and those still operating are losing money. But group buying is probably not yet dead. As Dan Frommer said on businessinsider.com, “The future of group buying is on mobile devices. Why? Because they’re always with you, can identify your location via GPS, and can access a network of real-time, instant deals.” If businesses can engage customers and retain loyalty, group buying may have a bright future.

To turn this trend into an advantage for your organization, consider the following. Customer self-organization is going digital. Selling to groups can increase profits. Use social media to drive customer self-organization. Group-selling is not for gaining new customers. Instead, try group-selling for exclusive products and services and rewarding loyalty.

 

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