Online trends

A Power Shift led by Demanding Consumers

Businesses are waking up to a new reality. A buying power shift that has taken place in the market place.

Gone are the days where business can dictate terms to their clients. It seems that many businesses are battling to come to terms with this reality.

Recently I penned a letter to 16 000 odd people listed in a clients database. I tried to illustrate this consumer shift by using a complaint that was posted onto Hello Peter a few years back.

A large portion of this target audience are estate agents and judging by the various reactions to my email it is obvious that some people are more attuned to these shifts in consumer behaviour  than others.

The client, HouseCheck, is a national home inspection company (disclaimer – in which I have a small  interest) which supplies comprehensive and snag inspections to buyers and sellers.

Because of the way the Consumer Protection Act excludes private sellers and buyers from the provisions of the Act, the only way a buyer can protect themselves from the Voetstoots clause when buying a home is by verifying the true condition of the property upfront. This is done via a Home Inspection.

Although some estate agents are all for home inspections, quite a few are discouraging home inspections, because they are scared that the inspection may disrupt the sale. HouseCheck’s argument is that this is an unfair practice because buyers could be prejudiced.

I suggested in my article “that in the court of public opinion” this attitude adopted by most estate agents could go against them. The jury is still out if this may happen.

There have been three other incidents which have reinforced the power of the small man.

In a  much shared post on Facebook, a woman’s claim against Old Mutual for a life policy on her late husbands life was denied on the basis that the man had not disclosed all pre existing conditions. Sadly, the pre existing conditions had not killed him, as he was murdered. The wife faced a bleak future as she worked for her late husband in an administrative capacity and now, not only did she loose her income but was also facing a situation where the life policy was denied. 

Naturally Facebook users agreed with her that the the insurance company’s decision was unjust.  The social media post went viral. Old Mutual quickly became aware that the court of public opinion was judging it and quickly changed their minds and agreed to make the payout.

Old Mutuals reputation was saved. The destitute policy holder won in the court of public opinion.

Ford Motor Corporation in South Africa and elsewhere took longer to learn their lesson. A few years back their  Ford Kuga’s were catching alight for no apparent reason. People died as a result.

These fire incidents resulted in the value of thousands of Kuga owners cars being decimated because the general public turned away from the brand.

Ford themselves would not even give a decent trade in value on their own product.

And in another victory for the small man, average South Africans took to Twitter and other social media to take on mega PR agency Bell Pottinger in the UK over their racially divisive campaign conducted in South Africa. The DA, feeling the mood of the people grabbed the opportunity and cleverly reported Bell Pottinger to the Public relations and Communications Association (PRCA) and they had their membership terminated for five years.

At the time of writing, the Bell Pottinger CEO has resigned and clients are jumping ship according to media reports. Bell Pottinger have  announced that they are declaring bankruptcy.

David has played Goliath. Imagine one of the worlds most respected PR agencies misread this power shift.

Managing your social media reputation is now a key aspect of your business and one not to be taken lightly. Remember your clients are potentially in the driving seat, and the court of public opinion reigns supreme.

Google and Facebook  now consider consumer reviews before making recommendations for businesses in their respective search engines.

At The Online Marketer we have strategies to handle these aspects of your business. A number of our Tourism and Hospitality clients have benefitted from the positive reviews they have received as a result of our automated review systems.

Digitally First - Physically Enhanced

The Online Business Model has usurped the Physical Business Presence as the primary business presence. Physical businesses now support the online versions.

This transitioning has been fraught with difficulty but has been terribly exciting. Successful transients are alive with possibilities…

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