The current economy is seeing the consumer taking a more active role than ever before. Customers are more demanding, more outspoken and more willing to spread the word (good or bad) about the brands they’ve had experiences with.
In this marketplace where the consumer rules the roost, many brands have spied an opportunity, deciding to grant their customers a certain amount of corporate power through the act of collaboration. These newly forged relationships put paid to the one-sided nature of brand monologues, played out for the passive consumer. Now, there is conversation and collaboration, and the organisations which are facilitating this are well rewarded.
On the brink of its 150th birthday, John Lewis has proven that it’s anything but old fashioned by being voted the most collaborative leading UK brand online. A .wiki survey found that the British High Street stalwart is considered by its customers as more open to collaboration with them over the internet than any other, meaning not only has it avoided becoming a stick in the online mud like so many others, but that it has even beaten the digitally innovative likes of Google (which came in 2nd) and Apple (3rd).
Newcomer to the top level domain crowd, .wiki has sprung up in response to the new, collaborative online environment, with an aim to “allow anyone, from individuals to fan clubs to corporations, to host their content on a naturally convenient extension”. Its research, conducted in collaboration (naturally) with YouGov, involved 2,455 participants from the UK and 1,220 from the USA. The benefits of a two-way relationship between brand and consumer were clear to see in the findings; half of respondents expressed a more positive perception of organisations which join collaborative forces with their customers online than those who don’t. Despite this though, the same proportion of respondents think that there is "little or no opportunity" to contribute in any way to their favourite brands online.
Ray King, CEO at the company behind .wiki, Top Level Design, commented: “It’s great that UK consumers have crowned John Lewis as the most collaborative leading brand in the UK online, a further cause for celebration beyond their birthday. Consumers and businesses alike have long recognised the power and potential that the Internet has to improve the products and services businesses offer, creating a better two-way dialogue between customers and their favourite brands. In reality, this research shows that most consumers feel that the opportunity to collaborate with most companies they love still doesn’t exist.”
He continued: “Setting up an external wiki is one of the most progressive ways to use the technology and a good first step for businesses to mitigate any concern among audiences about lack of consumer collaboration and enables customers to feel they have an have input into the destiny of their favourite companies. Our research shows that when customers have an issue with the direction their favourite brands are taking, they lack the ability to offer their input as to how best resolve it. Where the Internet is the greatest knowledge resource ever created, .wiki offers businesses a new innovative crowd-sourcing mechanism to improve business performance based on what their customers want.”