Situational Marketing and Participatory Information Platform To Lure Info Shoppers

Mark Penn, the author of Microtrends, has written an article in WSJ describing information shoppers. These shoppers are the consumers who go online to find all the related information ahead of time before making a purchase. The traditional sales people and the TV commercials don't interest them and do not fulfill their information appetite. I enjoyed reading Microtrends and this article does a great job highlighting a psycho-demographics that marketers will have trouble going after using traditional approaches. The marketers should pay close attention to this trend. The emotional appeal of a brand could help attract consumers to the products but may not necessarily translate into sale unless info shoppers are satisfied with the necessary information for a given situation to make that decision.

Situational Marketing: The marketing campaigns, active or passive, miss the real situational context. The consumers are making a decision under specific circumstances that I would describe as a micro-situation. The information that is presented to them, most of the time, lack the context and stop just at the brand appeal. If the marketers can identify these micro-situations such as looking for a new iPod since my Zune froze or a dual layer DVD that would support my current burner they could win over those consumers.

Google pioneered the search over browse via AdSense. The contextual ad placement based on users' intent while searching have performed better over non-contextual banner ads that people typically see (or not) when they browse. Extending this concept beyond the ad to make information available to the shoppers when they need them, until they complete the sale, would go a long way against bombing them with non-contextual marketing campaigns. Marketers have used obscurity to promote the coolness of the brand but what really helps consumers to seal a deal is the brand transparency.

Think beyond traditional information channels: The average number of visits to a vendor's site has been consistently falling since people are exploring other ways to find information and engage into conversations. Providing information on a participatory platform allows the consumers to build community around the products and brands to exchange information. The marketers can tap into the collective wisdom to promote the products. The open source software is a living example that demonstrates the influence of community and community-generated content in buying behaviors.

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