Online Identity- A Double Edged Sword

As a child I saw shopkeepers sell goods to us, we had a need and went to buy, say a shirt, and ended up buying not we were willing to buy but what the shopkeeper wanted to sell. Sales man typically meant a street smart person, who could sell a comb to a bald man. The shopkeepers typically shoved down our throats what they felt like selling. We bought a refrigerator because the shopkeeper said it was best in the market, I bought a shirt as the shopkeeper felt I looked really good in it.

It all largely happened as the choices we had were limited. One or two shops for each kind of product and all mutually exclusive. Buying services also was more of a forced sale on us. Buying Life insurance was always obligatory in nature.

Expansion of economy, an aware customer, more competition and the internet have changed it all. Traditional ways of selling and buying are dying a sure death, if at all they haven’t died yet. The introduction of multiple brands in 90’s and increase in disposable incomes of people made customer much more assertive. He had many places to buy from, no matter how small the town was. Treatment the customer got from shopkeeper suddenly became better, shopkeeper knew customer has 4 more places to go, margins for sellers started dwindling but at the same time volumes saw an upsurge. The surge in volumes was disproportionate when compared to the reduction in margins, this lead to increase in choices from same seller.

With the turn of century a great revolution happened, internet took centre stage. Almost everyone started having online identity, almost everything is talked about online. Online identities have a typical digression from traditional identities businesses and people had, traditional identities were built and maintained on one to one basis. The owner of the identity was solely responsible for building it. Internet and social media changed the process of building identities, you like it or not business and personal identities are built in collaborative manner now. Customers contribute in the way how you as a business will be seen by others. Your personal twitter, FB whatsapp etc accounts and reaction of people to you decides how you will be seen as an individual.


E-commerce has typically leveraged it. You buy anything online which has positive reviews. The reviews are collaborative brand building for given product.

A customer before walking into a shop to buy a refrigerator or another white good does an extensive research on models he has shortlisted to buy. Again a collaborative brand building. Handful of negative reviews online kill the product.

No one is pushing a product down the customers throat now. Customers are buying now, buying what their opinion tells them to buy. Customer assists other customer. Almost all business entities have to have an online identity, if one does not have one he is going to get left out pretty fast.

The products or services which haven’t built themselves a digital identity are going to suffer. A typical example being the Life insurance products. The organisations which are offering lesser ‘buy online’ options are suffering loss of market share. If as a seller of life insurance you are conspicuously absent online you already are a looser. Life insurance industry typically suffered from this, it hasn’t grown in same proportion as the awareness about life insurance has grown. On contrary the Health insurance has leveraged its self online and the market for it is exploding. Life Insurance industry, partly due to regulatory framework and partly due to indifference of organisations remains a push sales industry, unfortunately push does not work now a days, its pull sales which happen.

Online identities and collaborative brand building have assisted transformation from push sales to pull sale. But this advantage comes with a dangerous drawback. Your collaborative brand building might not always build your brand the way you might have intended. And once online brand building goes into a negative spiral it’s very difficult to stop the negative impact it brings. Even more, the online brand building will remain online always, its nearly impossible to get rid of it.

It’s high time we transform from pushing sales to pulling sales. Only way out to do it is collaborative brand building.

In my early science lessons I was told- It’s easier to move an object by pulling it than by pushing it. It indeed was an important lesson.





4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ajaypoetry
    Dec 28, 2016 @ 11:11:23

    But some times customer needs a push, which you get only in a shop


  2. Somali K Chakrabarti
    Nov 19, 2016 @ 22:42:34

    Creating online presence is a must for all retail businesses now. Life Insurance is waking up to it. Collaborative brand building, if managed well, can help to increase the brand recall in the minds of the readers, and create a pull.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sharat Pathak
    Nov 18, 2016 @ 12:08:04

    when the people collaborating to define online identity are in large mass such manipulation is is unlikely


  4. Tanuja
    Nov 17, 2016 @ 19:05:30

    Good one, I was reminded of sattu from SNR. but I think online influencing can also be manipulated . What do you say to that

    Liked by 1 person

Post Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: