Razorfish: the empire strikes back

If you are tired of being told by some self-righteous nabob that “the consumer is in control” and “your brand no longer matters,” I have the perfect antidote for you: the third annual FEED: The Razorfish Digital Brand Experience Report, which was just published.

FEED discusses the results of an annual Razorfish survey of U.S. consumers to understand how they interact with brands in the digital world.  My employer Razorfish uses FEED to help our clients create better customer experiences.

The findings of the 2009 survey challenge the popular notion of the consumer in control who gleefully ignores your brand.  Our survey shows that although consumers are more empowered, they still desire a relationship with the brand, and a brand has a major say in that relationship.  It’s just that brands need to shift their thinking from one-way advertising to two-way consumer experiences to take advantage of the attributes of digital.

Some specifics:

  • Consumers are not shutting out brands — they are interacting with them.  According to FEED, 77 percent of consumers surveyed have watched a commercial or video advertisement on YouTube with some frequency.  Sixty-nine percent have provided feedback to a brand, either through a website or a third-party service.  Sixty-five percent have played a branded browser-based game.
  • Digital experiences create customers.  The overwhelming majority of consumers who actively engage with a brand in digital fashion are much more inclined to purchase products and recommend the brand to others.

  • Digital can make or break a brand.  Sixty-five percent of consumers say that a digital experience, either positive or negative, changed their opinion of a brand.  Of those, 97 percent said their experience influenced whether they eventually purchased from the brand.
  • This is the year of the brand fan.  Forty-percent of consumers have friended a Facebook brand page.  Twenty-six percent have followed a brand on Twitter.  It’s a myth that brands don’t belong in the social world.  In fact, with banner advertisement click-through rates sinking to miniscule levels, companies have little choice but to find their social voices.

  • Content is king on Twitter.  Those who follow Twitter accounts want more than deals or customer service.   A desire for “interesting and engaging content” has emerged as a major reason based on our survey.  The pundits might complain about Twitter being used as a broadcast mechanism, but I’m not so sure I agree.  Consumers want interesting content.  They will follow someone who shares it.  One person’s broadcast is another person’s sharing.  I think Twitter feels like a loud broadcasting device only when that content is irrelevant.

A note about our consumer survey: Razorfish focused on 1,000 U.S. “connected consumers” across four major age groups.  We use the term “connected consumer” to describe people who have broadband access, regularly spend money online, and actively consume or create digital content, among other attributes.  We focus on this particular subset of the general population because connected consumers matter most to Razorfish clients.

For more insights from FEED, please go here.  Moreover, Lisa Bradner of Forrester and I challenged the “consumer in control” perception on September 1 — check out our thoughts here. I encourage you to share your opinions on Twitter, too (the hash tag is #FEED09).