Lecture # 13 How Can We Focus on the Consumer? Consumer Relations Globalization and internet have made it increasingly challenging to behave responsibly and promote their products. Organizations must differentiate their products from other competitors. Usually it is the PR techniques and social sensitivities that help distinguish an organization and its products from its competitors. Consumer Relations Objectives Building sales is the primary consumer relations objectives– very important to fashion (multibillion dollar industry). Keeping old customers: most sales are made to establish customers, PR efforts should be used to retain customers. Professionals should consider consumers’ concerns. Attracting new customers: every organization must work constantly to develop new customers. Consumer Relations Objectives Marketing new items or services: Customer relations techniques can influence the sale of new products. Thousands of new products are offered to consumers each year, confusing customers is done frequently. Expediting Complaint Handling: there are very few organizations that do not receive complaints. Many large organizations outsource call centers. Reducing Costs: uninformed buyers cost the organization time and money when items are returned. Consumer Generated Media The internet has given consumers a voice A place for consumer opinions to be shared, heard and researched Consumer generated media includes the millions of comments, opinions, and personal experiences that are posted publicly on a range of topics covering products, services, topics, and brands. Consumer Generated Media (CGM) is also referred to as online consumer word or mouth. Consumer Generated Media This can include: Blogs Message Boards and Forums Public Discussions Discussions and Forums on Large Email Portals Online Opinion/ Review Sites and Services Online Feedback/Complaint Sites An ethical concern is how aggressive an organization is to accessing CGM Handling Consumer Complaints Research shows that out of a handful of unsatisfied customers, 4 % will complain. That means that there are many others with the same complaint, and many of those customers will not repurchase. The Consumer Movement Over the years, congress has reacted to protect consumers from corporate abuses. The Right to Safety- be protected from marketing the goods that are hazardous to life– Stains, bleaches, and paints, drugs and alcohol The Right to Be Informed- to be protected from fraudulent or deceitful information The Consumer Movement The Right to Choose- to be assured access to a variety of products and services at competitive prices. The Right to Be Heard: consumer interests will receive full consideration in the formulation of government policy. Federal Consumer Agencies Key agencies include: The Justice Department Federal Trade Commission Food and Drug Administration Consumer Product Safety Commission Justice Department Such consumer protection measures has the truth in Lending Act and Product Safety Act, the Justice Department is concerned with anti-trust and monopolistic activities. Federal Trade Commission National advertising divisions cover TV and radio advertising on food, drugs and cosmetics. It also includes magazine subscription agencies, door to door sales, and income tax services. Securities and Exchange Commission Supervises disclosure among public companies. Food and Drug Administration Protects consumers from hazardous items including foods, drugs, cosmetics, therapeutic, and radiological devises, food additives, serums, and vaccines. Consumer Product Safety Commission This bureau is responsible for overseeing product safety and standards and has been aggressive in recent years in areas of seat belt restraints, strollers, blankets, and other products for small children. Consumer Activism Goes Online Internet activism uses internet communications technologies to enable faster communications and coordination by citizen movements. Internet activism has been criticized that it gives disproportionate access to affluent activists because poor people, minorities and elderly citizens lack access to technology, and lack experience in new technology. Word of mouth criticism aided by the internet must be dealt with quickly. Business Gets the Message Companies have broadened the consumer relations function to include such activities as: Developing guidelines to evaluate products and services Developing consumer programs to help meet consumer needs and increase sales Develop filed training programs evaluating customer service approaches Evaluating company effectiveness Demonstrating customer concerns Most customer criticism can be satisfied by a prompt, personalized reply. Acknowledging Customer Concerns Consumers are impressed when organizations contact or notify them for whatever reason. On the other hand, failing to answer a question, satisfying a complaint, or solving a problem can result in bad word of mouth advertising. Acknowledging Customer Concerns Consumer relations needs to not take a defensive position. Consumer relations professionals must themselves be activists to make sure consumers understand the benefits of using their products. Final Thoughts Globalization and the internet have made it difficult for organizations to promote products and be responsible. Organizations should develop products that consumers will want to use, as well as, beat out competition. Consumers are satisfied when organizations contact them directly about their concerns. One unhappy customer has the power to turn others away from purchasing your products or services. References Seitel, F.P. (2011). The Practice of Public Relations. Prentice Hall: Boston.