Regus, a provider of workplace solutions with over 1,100 business centers in 85 countries, recently published a study that explored the role of social media in customer acquisition. Based on input from senior managers and business owners around the world, the study found that almost one-half of small businesses are successfully connecting with prospects through social networks.
The worldwide survey also ranked countries who found success in customer acquisition in social networks. With 14 countries reporting, an average of 40% reported that social networks were indeed ripe for converting prospects into customers. At the very top of the list, 52% of businesses in India reported success followed by Mexico, Spain, The Netherlands and China with 50%, 50%, 28%, and 22% respectively. The US ranked 7th with 35%.
1. India – 52%
2. Mexico – 50%
2. Spain – 50%
3. Netherlands – 48%
4. China – 44%
5. South Africa – 43%
6. Germany – 41%
6. Australia – 41%
7. US – 35%
8. Canada – 34%
9. France – 33%
9. UK – 33%
10. Japan – 30%
11. Belgium – 27%
It does make business sense to spend towards promotional activities in various forms of media, thronged by maximum number of people wherein lays your target customer.
One such new medium that has cropped-up, against all odds of conventional media offerings, is social networking sites. These new generation of sites, like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are attracting maximum number of ad revenues spending among other online mediums.Social networking sites are fast emerging as the most influential medium of promotional activities for the corporate world globally.
Instead of promoting business through other traditional mediums, the corporate world is increasingly tapping innovative business prospects with their links from sites like Facebook, Twitter and even Linkedin.
ITC's clothing brand Wills Lifestyle is using Facebook and other sites to identify the latest trends among young members. Its Facebook fans can upload pictures and use discussion forums as the company looks to catch the young fashion vein.
"Trends change very frequently, so the real time research on these sites (social networks) are really helpful," said Atul Chand, CEO of ITC's lifestyle retail business. "The contribution can wary from colour schemes to textures to designs," he added.
ITC's Chand said Wills Lifestyle is looking at directly involving its consumers in product development and designing. The band is also pushing online sales through its member community on Facebook. "It's an additional revenue channel. Online sales are almost equal to business made from one store," he said.
Kishore Biyani-led Pantaloons is currently present on Facebook and it plans to extend it to other popular sites too.
"We regularly track the sites to be in touch with the latest trends," said Rajan Malhotra, president - retail strategy, Future Group that owns Pantaloons. Although the brand is not directly involving the consumers now, Mr Malhotra said it is definitely looking at it. "It has become essential."
Analysts say the trend is here to last. A number of brands are concentrating on 'you' to build their images to woo the new consumer empowered by interactive media.
Online presence offers an informal research, which is real time unlike the earlier times, when retailers had to depend on second-hand research reports," said Pinakiranjan Mishra, retail analyst at Ernst & Young.
With several netizens, particularly the geeks, preferring to shop on the net and also making revelations about their personal tastes without inhibitions, brands can ill afford to ignore the power of the mouse and 'YOU'. All sales are not made on the shopfloor, after all.
What do you think?