HomeOpinion & AnalysisWhy corporates should be aware of the rise of ‘CorpSumer’

Why corporates should be aware of the rise of ‘CorpSumer’

If you are a public relations (PR) consultant like me, picking up trends and catching up with what’s new in the field is a healthy habit. Though you cannot swallow it all and fail to get indigestion or worse get confused, things you come across and excite you deserve to be shared. Even if those who follow you might think you are going crazy.

public relations with Lenox Lizwi Mhlanga

Our work involves bouncing off bright ideas and sometimes puzzling ones off clients, still feeling we are not getting across to them at all. Yet once in a while, one stumbles on some inspired research that more or less justifies why you should be retained.

Sometimes the PR profession, for years captioned as a “gin and tonic affair”, comes out a bit grey when compared to our flashy cousins in marketing. As we try to stay relevant (and within favour) by striking the fear of God in our clients through sharing horror stories of reputations that went south, we come out second when marketing rolls out the red carpet, making everyone believe that delivers good value for the money.

A colleague in the PR profession describes that situation when we don our suits and head to a client’s function. And all the while our marketing colleagues are “hiring celebrity spokespeople, creating ‘influencer integrations’ and brainstorming big ideas that include things like the World’s Largest Something-Or-Other on a tinted river that runs beneath a lighted-building in your brand colours.”

And we have always consoled ourselves with reminders about the importance of reputation, and the fact that a high-share price attracts investors and that attraction for the high spending consumers. Yes, reputation is important, the client says, but when the rubber hits the tarmac, the big budget goes to — you guessed it right — marketing!

Well if this — as a long suffering PR practitioner — sounds like you, then today is your day. Because MWWPR’s has released research about a big consumer segment called “the CorpSumer.”

By definition, the CorpSumer is that customer who really cares about the entire company — its reputation, its values, and its leadership team — even more than they care about the products themselves.

And it’s a huge segment in terms of numbers. In fact, this segment, according to the firm, is bigger than moms, bigger than millennials and reputation is what matters to them. Forget that this study was done in the United States and remember, the world is now an oyster due to the interconnectedness brought by the World Wide Web.

CorpSumers are more loyal, less price-sensitive and more willing to advocate for a brand than the average American, er, person.

“They are market-makers, and market-movers. You can learn more about them in this video we put together, this Forbes article or get right into the data here,” MWWPR says.

For your average PR practitioner, this is a God-send. That is if you got your ducks in a row, advice wise. Let the data speak for you unless your clients, or bosses for that matter, are mathematically illiterate, like me.

Forget that this is America they are talking about and consider the following facts:

  • More than half of CorpSumers (52% to be precise) will stick with a product that has disappointed them because they’ve bought into what the company stands for.
  • 63% of CorpSumers will switch from a product they like to a new product because they want to support something the other company is doing.
  • 67% will pay full price for something from a company they believe in. (I call that the Starbucks Effect — is the coffee really better? Or do we all buy in to their story, and their leadership?)
  • Three quarters of CorpSumers have influenced the purchase decisions of others — both positively and negatively — based on the reputation of the company.

And it gets more exciting, people! They consume news more than the average person, and 89% of CorpSumers regularly share news about companies with their friends and families. They are, in effect, the influencers next door.

“CorpSumers are the key to growth for companies in every industry and sector. They vote with their wallets (and their feet), and they also consider reputation when they choose a place to work and when making investment decisions,” the report says.

Give them something to believe, and they will give you their loyalty and their advocacy, as if they were eavesdropping into one of my reputation management classes.

We will definitely be hearing more about the CorpSumer. Because it buttresses what I have been saying for a long time. It’s no longer bells, whistles, canned thunder and lightning that will win over the customer or client of today, but the emotional heartstrings pulled, and the closeness to their way of seeing things that matters.

According to MWWPR, we will need to dig deeper into the CorpSumer’s mindset, priorities and most importantly, how to engage and activate them.

In other news, we celebrate companies that listen to the cries of their long suffering customers, and boo those that dump dung on them. Kudos goes to Steward Bank for introducing a new queue management system that has removed the dread they had instilled in customers who had to visit their banking halls for one reason or the other. It was refreshing to see the new system in action, almost erasing those queues that had become so much of an eyesore.

On the other end of the scale is a story of how Chicken Inn allegedly dumped a customer who had been poisoned after being mistakenly served with dishwasher in a Sprite plastic bottle. If reports are true, the tone deaf response of “a public relations official” to the customer who sought further treatment from a specialist makes one cringe.

“His medical papers from our doctor reveal that he had been treated from all the harm and is now fit but I think he is just testing his luck to get money out of our company. Let him pursue but he will never outmaneuver us in courts because we have a huge financial base and can afford legal experts to outwit a poor guy like Nigwa,” the PR official, is alleged to have responded.

Need I say more?

Lenox Mhlanga is a public relations and communications specialist with Magna Carta Reputation Management Consultants. He has worked for the World Bank Group and has lectured at the National University of Science and Technology. The views expressed here, unless stated otherwise, are his own. He can be contacted at lenoxmhlanga@gmail.com

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