A few years ago I read a book by Kit Yarrow called Decoding the New Consumer Mind. This book examined the fascinating phenomenon of digital interactions with brands. Before the exposure of brands on a digital level and the ability for people to spread thoughts quickly to an extremely large audience, companies could act like just that: a company. However, the ability the Internet has created for customers to interact with brands through emails, social media sites, and websites is creating a new desire among consumers: that brands have a soul.
This has been demonstrated through several different brand/customer interactions throughout recent history—both good and bad—and forces companies to reexaime both what they believe in on a moral and ethical level as well as how they can respond to their consumer on a level that feels human.
Choosing an ethical model that promotes caring and empathy is what will make the difference between a company thriving in online spaces and becoming a beloved brand and being completely destroyed by outraged consumers.
It is imperative that brands take ethical approaches to online communications seriously and engage customer with feeling if they are going to survive in this digital world.