Group mentality driving consumer behavior

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Less than two years ago, after Time declared “You” as its person of the year, marketers spent lots of time brainstorm­ing ways for consumers to participate in brands and express themselves. But the time of “you” is dead. Design-your-own X contests no longer cut it. Now it's the time of “we.”

While it's human nature to care what our peers think and buy, we have never before seen with such staggering clarity the day-to-day data that this constant community input creates. MySpace, for example, with its 200 million members, can figu­ratively be considered the eighth largest country in the world, based on population.

Individuals — declaring their identity in the vanity publish­ing days of 2007 — connect one to one or one to many. Each has a personal stake in the activities of the group. How can a brand resonate in this environment?

It is about more than letting each customer have a voice. The “we” mentality sparks action. A group holds you to your vow. DM has its strength in metrics. While today's world hosts a plethora of data available to crunch and test, the final impulse to buy is often driven by a different motivation — the need to save face in a group and come through on promises.

A fantastic example of putting this new form of peer pressure to the test is the Takes All Types campaign that used Twitter and Facebook to rally would-be blood donors. But the tactic is useful for any marketer who understands how an individual's use of a product will impact that person's identity within the group. So when you are planning your next push, speak to one buyer at a time — but be sure the pitch stands up for the whole crowd.

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