Crisis shows that brands must listen

What can brands learn from the fuel crisis? They listen, but they don’t hear. At last, we have the definitive case history of what can happen when a brand fails to respond to what its consumers are saying.

What can brands learn from the fuel crisis? They listen, but they don’t hear.

At last, we have the definitive case history of what can happen when a brand fails to respond to what its consumers are saying.

The central issue is that today’s consumers are fed up with being listened to, but not being heard. And if they cannot be heard, they will simply draw attention to their grievances with more direct action.

The Labour brand, in fairness, had listened to the arguments but failed to hear the extent of the discontent and is now paying a high price for its deafness. Forget the crisis management, for therein lies a case history for the PR people to mull over: the root of this problem was simply that consumers – the voters – believed they were not being heard and unleashed an awesome direct response.

What makes this situation particularly riveting is the way consumers turned new technologies to their own advantage. Mobile phones, Internet bulletin boards, newsgroups and websites posted by disgruntled customers empowered these consumers and demonstrated overwhelmingly the threat to brands: by failing to listen, they can dislocate themselves from their core customer base.

Like all good case histories, the message for direct marketers is clear: listen properly and respond directly. You heard it here first.

Mike Horne

Managing director

Brann Worldwide (Cirencester)

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