Consumer Realism to Brand Virtualism

By Rasha  //  Consumer Insights & Evolution  //  5 Comments

The perpetuating starting point of online social behavior came to my attention in the 1999 when chatting with an anonymous person across another continent seemed like quite a risky and venturing moment- to actually be able to connect, share ideas & even contribute to the changing ideologies across different countries, by typing, smiling and distributing visual content online.

It began with the startup of social platforms which welcome mass networking such as Hi5, MySpace. Then in 2004 Facebook paved the way for an online revolution & the birth of a new human need –when virtual connections seemed better & enough for some while others didn’t quite understand it yet. Then social platforms began taking on human interaction- to date, be fond of and even flirt! So community built networks from match making to dating sites began filling inexistent and undetermined personal voids in many people’s lives and great match making start ups such as,, & Plenty of Fish where all quite a success.

Before beginning to address consumer as ‘consumers’ we need to take a lucid analogy of both a consumer and an active online user when resorting to social media and all its various forms of relationship building. By 2000, speed dating had really taken off, and by 2004 that humanly interactive activity was replaced by a ‘poke’. Special warm occasions which had brought people frequently together are now replaced by e-cards and wall post of colorful virtual gifts. Inspired by this ever growing yearn for cognitive virtual captivity, we see online users (varying between age & status) resort to social media for filling or replacing a social foundation they find themselves uneager to perform or sustain. But has this changed our lives into having being poked back acting as a wink back, a DM on Twitter as a response to dinner plans with your colleague, or have birthdays become the number of “greetings’ you get from your friends on your Facebook wall? So what’s in it for products, brands and services?
Brands like Dove inspired women to age beautifully. ‘Dove Evolution’ video received tons of views and media coverage. Also this video has sent a traffic spike to its website that is three times bigger than the traffic Dove received from last year’s Super Bowl commercial. Why did this work and what did the female consumer psychology have to go with it?

The success stories of brands like Dove, Colgate and “Where the Hell is Matt” (the set of viral success video) have made it because of women’s call for ‘evolution of beauty’ and that any women can be beautiful, with the right make up, the best lighting and hair do, can turn any women into another Sharon Stone. Women need to see and hear that to gain self esteem. Dove provided women with that quick illustration on how it is possible. A simple unsatisfied void was filled by a soap & shampoo brand who proved that anyone can be beautiful and women chose to ‘see, share and like’ that.

Colgate Smile gave everyone a chance to publish and share their ‘Smile’. However if the users teeth weren’t that spotless and shiny white, a specific application whitens their teeth and linked to several social platforms which can later be shared, tagged and posted on profiles of Friends and on their own. Colgate believes that everyone has a great smile, and if they think they don’t, they gave them a chance to enhance that. Once again a brand succeeds in turning a consumer’s objective of unpleasant personal reality into a virtual aspiration.

Matt a fascinating man chose to travel around the world and do the same dance in every country possible. Millions of views for every video he published on you tube. The video shows him performing a silly yet happy dance amongst kids in Madagascar and under the rain in Zanzibar and then in the Philippines surrounded by a crowd. He was able to bring together so many people because of this dance. Matt does not promote or endorse any brand, but if he did, which brand would you associate him with? Red Bull, Viagra, or maybe even Mountain Dew. Doesn’t matter, whatever the brand was, Matt as an individual made his dance journey a viral success because people who enjoyed watching him wish and aspire being in his shoes, dancing his days away with people he didn’t know in places we dream of being in. Online users’ reality once again craved a virtual escape, and this time was, ‘why don’t we check out where the hell is Matt today? “

Mark Zuckerberg’s primary ingredient for having his social start up work aim was focusing on student’s offline activity like relationship statuses, political views, religious views, to help folks find people like them to hang out with offline. People cared to share what they did offline on such a fast and spreadable platform.

We are seeing that the natural catalysts of ego and the relevance has launched businesses worldwide into the space of social media in an unorganized fashion. Celebrities become more famous with social media, their profiles, videos, and news has found a faster way in updating itself through user generated consumption and involvement. Meanwhile teenagers, kids, and even adults who do not socialize well with people and in worst case scenarios have become social rejects, are those who have significantly established a great circle of virtual connections all acquired through social networks and via enabling their profiles into every action done online. For people who have maintained an untouchable ego, social media has made their popularity even easier- a new car, a new hot girlfriend to show off, or even a new cute nose to brag about. However for those who refrain from being called ‘geeks’, the online world has offered so much in terms of social success and status completion. They are now known to be the social geeks, and they have contributed in making the success and accelerant web 2.0 even more exciting and profound.

Digital media and social networks will continue succeeding in ensuring a mutual engagement between consumers, audiences and prospect customers who are forming one community when brands daringly yet carefully tap into people’s sense of belonging- a need to feel special, or an escape from reality. This is when we realize that the connected digital world is so astounding when used to create a fulfilling bond with one another.

5 Comments to “Consumer Realism to Brand Virtualism”

  • “This is when we realize that the connected digital world is so astounding when used to create a fulfilling bond with one another.” You summed it up with this statement. Yet, I still feel it is a fact that often goes ignored.

    As I always say, very few people do things just for the sake of doing them..there always has to be an incentive there, one of the best being, the opportunity to make meaningful connections with people.

    Fantastic post. I look forward to reading more!

  • As you said Danielle, people chose to ignore it, or as you might say they do not admit that the connected world is somewhere they would like to resort to when the going gets tough, when reality sometimes bites. We choose to resort to social platforms to strengthen our long lost bonds with so many friends, meanwhile aspiring meeting new people., and this is where smart & savvy business/brands work around utilizing & taking advantage of such consumer behavior.

    Thank you Dani, I’m glad you liked it!
    Cheers girl :-)

  • Fantastic post indeed. And I totally agree with Danielle.
    Notice how businesses the world over wait for “the right moment” the moment when an “extra medium” turns into a necessity and companies become obliged to tap into that in order to get the revenue they are losing (or consider themselves to lose).

    For me its better to look forward and study the market before any shift becomes essential, becoming a pioneer in a certain communication platform. I believe this has a sort of snowball effect too.

    Loved this post!

  • Thank you Gaby :-)
    Who ever thought that online couple counselling would take place? Yes a start up company is even providing online couples’ therapy. So figure that couple has sexual performance issues, there goes a banner for Viagra. Birth control pills and anti depressant banners with taglines such as “For a healthy couple”.
    Shifts happen everyday, offline trends are redirected to online platforms. However is it fair that people no longer have a secluded escape from the bombarding advertising? But then no start up would turn into a monetizing business.

    I’m all with brands using social media to tap into consumer behaviors, & transforming an existing trend into a lucrative process.

    Cheers Gaby!

  • the exponential development is frightening in such a short time, i wonder if universities and the educational system is following. The future of management, marketing and communication will totally be depending on it.
    excellent article, going to basics is always interesting…keep it up.

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