SPECIAL FEATURE: The person next to me smells

Robyn Hall

May 2, 2013

An ever increasing number of people will share experiences, positive or negative and instead of talking to their friend at the bus stop, or in the pub with a few mates, these experiences can now be sent round the world via a devastatingly powerful interconnected human network.

Business can be shattered or enjoy fantastic reviews in an instant via a vast connection of social consumerism.

People in the UK are happier to share experiences via an online medium because of the ‘veil of secrecy’ that social feedback systems offer them.

People will happily Facebook or tweet that the ‘person sitting next to them smells’ but would not engage in conversation with that person and point out that there is a raspberry and kiwi shower gel in Boots that has a Trust Pilot review of 4.6 out of 5.

Through social media and online feedback systems, individuals are motivated to share every reaction, and Zuckerberg’s law suggests that the number of social objects we share online will double every year.

The world has changed and people now expect information to come to them and be available in a personalised format.

Context is paramount in the business of engagement and the consumer is now in control of how relevant context moves in their direction and influences their next steps.

Facebook and Google are engaging in a battle for market share and supremacy of the online media space.

A very similar battle for supremacy ensued in the 90’s between Halifax and Abbey, they locked horns for a ding-dong battle for the greatest percentage market share of the intermediary mortgage business.

This battle had the result of giving all of our clients access to excellent interest rates and services.

That is until Abbey had a few difficulties with admin and we all went to Halifax.

It is unlikely there will be an outright winner between Facebook and Google just shifting controls through innovation.

News now finds us, with special offers and deals sent directly to our phones, iPads and laptops all consumers need to do is unlock and activate.

Sending these offers and connecting with the consumer is not limited to the comparison sites- but they are the best at it. They leave the banks and insurance companies stuck at first base.

However it’s not just attracting the consumer to your site there is the ‘decision making cycle’!

There are considerations that need to be looked at for any online strategy, with the ‘decision making cycle’ divided into four key stages.


The moment or instance that triggers interest and the steps a consumer takes to reduce the initial options.


Based on the initial consideration, the consumer conducts open research to validate the initial choices.


When the decision making process is concluded the consumer journey is only just the beginning. Touch points unlock to shape and steer the ensuing customer experience.

Post- Commerce

Following the purchase, consumers bond with the product, but to what extent defines their loyalty and advocacy.

Knowing the consumer and understanding their decision-making and experience-sharing behaviour, is instrumental in developing on target engagement and marketing strategies.

It is the consumer that ultimately defines the success of the brand, product or service with a motivation to share every reaction.

The difference now is that the consumer is making the world a much smaller place.

They may not say directly that the ‘person next to them smells’ but you can guarantee that information is being shared and then shared again by an interlocking social network.

James Sadler is a former IFA of 15 years and founded Mortgage27 before selling majority shares to a venture capital business.

He is now helping financial businesses to increase their online sales and customer engagement.

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