Marketing, Babies, Decision Making and Social Networks

Observing the decision making/purchase decisions of new mothers and grandmothers is one of the unintended consequences of being a grandparent.  There are few bonds stronger than the mother-baby relationship.  To them, everything must be “right” or untold consequences will occur, adding to a new mother’s anxiety.

How do they pick the right food, clothes, play toys, strollers, environment, etc.?  One step is through discussions with other women who have had recent babies on what works, what doesn’t and why.  The next step, which may also be the first step, is to go the Internet and conduct searches, read reviews and form an opinion.  The final step is to make the purchase, either on-line or at a store.  One impression I have is that the knowledge level of the store personnel is viewed as low and biased,  hence discounted to some degree.

The power that the Internet has in this area cannot be minimized.  The Baby Einstein refund issue is an illustration. (http://www.babyeinstein.com/refund/ and http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/24/education/24baby.html)  It shows the role of perception vs. reality…which in the case of Baby Einstein reflects back on their branding.

The leap from the process that mothers and grandmothers go through to decision-makers at companies is not that big.  Absent an RFP process, buyers at Fortune 2000 and smaller companies essential go through the same decision steps.  They ask peers and non-competitors “What CRM, ERP, SIEM products (or whatever they are buying) are you using, do you like it, why?”  They look for reviews from Gartner, Forrester and other analysts.  They talk to reference accounts, although those inputs are discounted because only favorable reference accounts are offered.  They discount anything the sales person says.  And they go on the Internet to see and hear what other people are saying.  As with babies, in the B2B world this will include Goggling the product, and looking for any posting on YouTube or other media forms.

While the pattern of information gathering and decision making hasn’t changed much, the new tool of the Internet has made the reach of the person requesting information infinitely greater, and provided them with much more economic power.  If the mother decides that “such and such” Onesey is the best, she can now buy it at Wal-Mart, Kids-R-US or over the Internet.  This choice, unavailable a few years ago, quickly drives the price down.

The same process is available to the business buyer.  If the product is fairly commoditized, he can now buy it anywhere, and download it if it is software.  If it is complex, and requires both pre-sale support for installation and post-sale support for training and initial operation, he can shop for these services among qualified distributors, and/or compare service pricing for comparable products in order to negotiate lower prices.

The bottom line is that the acquisition decision process has remained the same, but with the buyer now having access to infinite information via the Internet, power has shifted from the seller to the buyer both in consumer and B2B marketplace.  Consumer marketer’s are fully aware of this change and are moving to create communities, establish Web 2.0 presences and to engage the buyers.

B2B marketers need to emulate what is occurring in the consumer markets and become engaged in listening to their customers and establishing ways in which their customers can interact with them, be it via twitter, LinkedIn discussion groups, commenting on YouTube postings or something yet to be developed.

As the CMO, are you implementing the appropriate social networking tools for your customers?  Did you fully recognize the shift in power to the buyer?

P.S.   Back to babies.  Listening in on conversations, it appears that hanna anderson is the current “best thing” for baby clothes and toys. Our family may be the last to know this, but where were they 10 years ago, 5 years ago, even 3 years ago?

Related Posts:

  1. Speed, Social Networks and Corporate Culture  https://firealarmmarketing.com/2009/08/11/speed-social-networks-and-corporate-culture/
  2. Do You Know What They Are Saying About You?  And How Are You Responding  https://firealarmmarketing.com/2009/08/04/do-you-know-what-they-are-saying-about-you-and-how-are-you-respo

RHM 4/8/2010

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