Youtility (2013) goes against the grain of accepted marketing methods by declaring that information, not promotion, is the way to win customers. Counterintuitive and refreshing methods are presented, repositioning the relationship between businesses and consumers. The book outlines examples from a wide spectrum of companies, big and small, driving home the message that by helping people and being useful instead of chasing sales, companies can prosper in the long-term.
How do we decide what products to buy?
Until recently internet search engines dominated our product choices. When you wanted something, you would probably just Google it. However, this practice is declining fast. In 2004 83 percent of customers used search engines to find a relevant company website; by 2011 this had dropped to only 61 percent.
This is the result of social media making us more research savvy. Thanks to the rise of social media, we can access far more source – from Twitter to Facebook and beyond – to research our purchases. We now use more sources of information than ever before: the average number of sources used by customers when choosing products doubled from five in 2010 to ten just twelve months later.
Why have we switched to social networks to sound out potential purchases? Because they provide us with recommendations from people whose suggestions we trust. Whenever we want something we can directly appeal to our friends and family through tweets or status updates. Whatever product or service we require we need only ask, “does anyone know…?” and there's a flurry of replies from those who know us best, packed with opinions and recommendations. This feedback is personalized and therefore more directed than a search engine.
We can even appeal for advice from a wider audience beyond our friends and family: our fellow shoppers. On networks like Angie’s List we can ask for consumers' personal recommendations and experiences of companies or contractors. As these answers come from first-hand experiences we value them more highly than we would the results of a mere internet search.
When choosing products we increasingly seek personal advice on social media from friends, family and fellow shoppers.