Brands turn deaf ear to concerns of consumers

More than 58% of respondents to the latest Marketingweek.co.uk poll asking whether brands were listening enough to their customers’ concerns said “no”.

The question was prompted by Marks & Spencer’s decision to apologise for its controversial bra pricing. The company took out full-page press ads saying it had “boobed” and is underlining the apology with a price promotion across all its bras.

The London Evening Standard also launched a campaign saying “We’re sorry…” and listing misdemeanours ahead of the newspaper’s redesign last week. These high-profile apologies may account for 35% of respondents to the poll saying that brands are listening to consumers and responding accordingly.

But saying “sorry” can be too little too late, as politicians may be realising in the wake of the expenses scandal. It indicates a brand was not watching for the warning signs that might indicate a brewing PR crisis.

It should be well drilled into marketers by now that social networking tools allow consumers to voice their opinions and concerns quickly and to a wide audience.

However, it’s interesting to note a McCann Erickson UK social media survey says 65.6% of marketers polled admit they do not have adequate knowledge on how to use social media correctly in marketing. Almost half of the senior marketers that responded also said that their company’s IT department proactively blocks access to Facebook, Twitter and other sites.

Following the recent apology by Marks & Spencer over bra pricing, do you think brands are listening enough to their customers’ concerns?

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