“…The sluggish economy is punctuating a cultural shift enabled by wired consumers accustomed to comparing prices and bargaining online, said Nancy F. Koehn, a retail historian at the Harvard Business School… Call it the eBay phenomenon…“
This quote is from an excellent article in the 3/23/08 New York Times. The author, Matt Richtell, sites quotes from spokes people and shoppers of stores including Home Depot, Ralph Lauren, Best Buy, and Circuit City. As well as analysts from Wachovia and Pacific Crest Securities.
Highlighted is the point that this is revolutionary as consumers shifted away from haggling as a method of conducting purchases back in the 1850’s.
This is a great example of the consumer empowerment theme of this blog. In the “About” section I described it further… driven by the adoption of technology and acquisition of the “perfect knowledge” typically held by the brand marketer, consumers have turned the hand of marketing teams for leading retailers. The NYT author described it as “…Savvy consumers, empowered by the Internet and encouraged by a slowing economy…”
It’s interesting to read examples of how consumers executed two key strategies:
Online research -> developing a target product selection and then research prices. These prices were then used as ammo to drive sales people on the retail floor to lower their prices.
Play “good cop / bad cop” with sales people.
In the end, consumers and their changing habits have changed the course for their relationship with selected brands. In this case, lowering prices.
Love to hear your thoughts –