Ninety percent of consumers trust the recommends of friends and family. Seventy percent trust recommendations from other consumers. But, only 18% trust the recommendations of retailers and manufacturers. Worse yet, consumers’ instant access to the opinions of other consumers is extensive. By the time the numbers are all in, the worldwide smartphone market is expected to have grown 49.2% in 2011. But, it’s not just about how many people have smartphones. It’s about how integrally interwoven those devices have become in our daily lives. Ninety-one percent of mobile users keep their phone within one meter’s reach 24/7.
But, well beyond the fingertip access consumers have to information anytime anywhere, it’s also about how much information is available to them and how influential that information is on their buying decisions. It’s expected that user-generated content creators will grow to 114.5 million creators by 2013 (a 17% increase from 2010). Eighty-one percent of consumers say that they received advice through a social site about an upcoming purchase. And, 74% of those found it influential in their buying decision.
So, in a world where consumers’ trust the opinions of other consumers more than they do retailers, what are retailers to do if they want to influence consumers’ decisions to buy from them? The answer is to employ a Smarter Commerce strategy to deepen the consumer’s relationship with the retailer’s brand to create brand advocates who will promote the retailer to other consumers. By marketing vicariously through consumers to consumers, the retailer extends the reach and influence of their brand in the marketplace.
All of this, of course, begs the question, “How do you create brand advocates?” The answer is, “by delivering a competitively-differentiating brand experience at every point of brand interaction with the consumer”. Regardless of whether her brand interaction is pre- or post-purchase, regardless of the channel(s) through which she interacts with your brand (e.g., store, Web, call center, mobile, kiosk, etc.), and regardless of what that brand interaction might be, the next great battleground for retailers is to ensure that that brand interaction constantly deepens brand intimacy and trust with the consumer. That’s Smarter Commerce, and that’s how you create brand advocates who will, then, promote your brand to other consumers (who will trust those recommendations 389% more than if they came from you).
IBM will be demonstrating Smarter Commerce in action at NRF in mid January. If you’re attending, stop by to see how advanced analytics, precision marketing, next-generation e-commerce software, smarter store systems, cross-channel retailing, supply chain management, and other critical capabilities are changing the way that retailers are able to deepen the relationship consumers have with their brand while taking their operational efficiency to the next level.
 Source: “Global Online Consumer Survey”; Nielsen; July 2009
 Source: “Capitalizing on the smarter consumer”; IBM Institute for Business Value; 2011
 Source: “Worldwide Quarterly Phone Tracker”; IDC; March 2011
 Source: “China Mobile 50k survey”; Morgan Stanley Research; 2007
 Source: “User-Generated Content: More Popular Than Profitable”; Paul Verna, eMarketer; January 2009
 Source: “Does social media sway online shopping?”; Bloomberg BusinessWeek re: myYearbook online survey of 45,000 users; January 2010
Source: “From Social Media to Social CRM – What Customers want”; IBM Institute for Business Value; 2011
Source: “From Social Media to Social CRM – Reinventing the customer relationship”; IBM Institute for Business Value; 2011