Customer Experience and Devaluation of Brand


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social consumer experience and value of brand

The rise of social customers triggered the devaluation of brand as an asset class. In the past a brand was recognized by businesses as the most valuable asset because they served as a proxy for quality of products sold under that brand. In the vast “ocean” of uncertainties of choice (“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you get”), a brand served as a life raft. The loyalty to a brand reduced uncertainties of the market place.

Today, consumers have unlimited access to better tools for reducing shopping uncertainties – past experiences of socially connected customers.

“The new information environment allows consumers to predict much more accurately the experienced quality of products and services they consider getting.”

The quote above comes from Absolute Value: What Really Influences Customers in the Age of (Nearly) Perfect Information written by Itamar Simonson (Professor of Marketing, Stanford) and Emanuel Rosen (ex marketing executive). This book challenges very fundamental pillars of marketing that include the value of a brand to an organization. The authors argue that an easy assessment of absolute value of a product (experience) is eroding the influence of “relative forces” (branding, loyalty and positioning) that used to drive purchasing decisions. The implications of this transparency on traditional marketing practices are enormous because it accelerates the rise and fall of the brands exponentially:

  • It took only few short years for Blackberry and Nokia to reach the top of their category, and fall to the bottom
  • Do you remember the last time you’ve seen a Volvo commercial promoting its safety record?
  • It took 5 years for Asus to reach the fifth place in worldwide PC shipments at the expense of well established brands without heavy investment in advertising.

The “absolute value” term makes me somewhat uncomfortable, because the experiential value is also relative. However, it is relative to consumer’s expectations and ability to filter information available for making a better (for them) choice.  Compared to being manipulated by a brand, enabled by the lack of better information (i.e. “relative value”), the new paradigm is absolutely a better choice for consumers. Surely customer reviews are not perfect quality indicators, but their content provides real help in assessment of experience a consumer can expect. 

influence of customer reviews


For marketers, this new reality offers an incredible opportunity to tune in to “natural” customer intelligence uninhibited by your company biases and
manipulations. The intelligence, produced by social media marketing research, delivers significant increase in customer engagement that converts into much greater sales.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Gregory Yankelovich
Gregory Yankelovich is a Technologist who is agnostic to technology, but "religious" about Customer Experience and ROI. He has solid experience delivering high ROI projects with a focus on both Profitability AND Customer Experience improvements, as one without another does not support long-term business growth. Gregory currently serves as co-founder of, the software (SaaS) used by traditional retailers and CPG brand builders to create Customer Experiences that raise traffic in stores and boost sales per customer visit.


  1. From my perspective, the real truth (and opportunity) suggested in your post is for brands to create a strategically differentiated and valuable experience for customers. Virtually any disciplined, innovative, and customer-centric b2b or b2c enterprise has the capability to accomplish this; and the sources for decision-making information and content today serve to make branded customer experience more of a lever than at any time in the past :

  2. Yes, Michael that is true. In addition a brand value, as a quality proxy, is not as important for many product categories as it used to be because the experiential product information is so easily available now. Consumer do not need a proxy as much anymore.


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