Consumers generally think companies that use customer-created advertising are more creative, customer-friendly and innovative than those that use only professionally-created advertising - but young adults are still not convinced about the technique, according to research from the American Marketing Association (AMA).
According to Dennis Dunlap, CEO for the AMA, more and more companies are giving a certain degree of control over their brands to their customers, due in part to an increase in consumer resistance to all forms of marketing.
Involving the customer
Many consumer goods companies have recently rethought their marketing strategy and decided to focus more on involving the customer in the marketing process, thereby building a sense of collaboration and reciprocity. But, Dunlap warns, "It is important to consider how companies can do this successfully while reinforcing and protecting the brand."
Nancy Costopulos, chief marketing officer for the AMA added: "The advent of consumer-generated media, the opportunity for organisations to hand the reigns over to consumers more often, and the unlimited creativity of the customer base have opened up a new channel for marketers. As our research shows, more and more organisations have the ability to build better trust with their consumers, and to establish better brand loyalty and equity by allowing consumers to have a part in the creative process."
The AMA's survey found that, compared to a company that uses only professional advertising, most adults feel that a company that uses customer-created advertising is more customer-friendly (68%), creative (56%), and innovative (55%).
Respondents aged 25 or over were more likely than those aged 18 - 24 to say a company that uses customer-created advertising is more creative than a company that uses only professional advertising (58% versus 44%, respectively). And half of the respondents (50%) said they feel a company that uses customer-created advertising is just as trustworthy as one that uses only professional advertising.
However, young adults are generally more sceptical than their older counterparts. Respondents between aged 18 - 24 were more likely than those between the ages of 25 and 64 to feel that a company that uses customer-created advertising is less trustworthy (21% versus 10%, respectively), less socially-responsible (20% versus 10%, respectively) and less customer-friendly (13% versus 5%, respectively).
Know your audience
Costopulos explained: "Allowing consumers to contribute to brand message demands two things. First, you must know your audience and what influences and motivates them. Second, you must be clear about what success for your organisation looks like. Companies need to have measurements that show how this impacts the brand."
There is an understandable reluctance for many organisations to give up this much control over their brand, as they have spent a fortune building up their brand relevance and identity. However, Costopulos said, giving consumers more interaction with the brand has a direct effect on the company's overall perception in the marketplace: "Young adults' scepticism may be rooted in their desire to distance themselves from company-sponsored messages. Organisations need to find a way to give this audience even more control and autonomy in the process."