If you’ve ever wondered why people say that consumers, not marketers, have control of todays brands… here you go. Compound this with a stat from Forrester Research from 2009 (larger today)… consumers generate more than 500B social messages each year regarding products and services… and you see a pretty good picture as to the scale of the impact of the empowered consumer.
“…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 –
Recently I read that a kid entering middle school today has been subject to more information than a scholar of the late 19th century. Information and commercial communications are bombarding consumers at an unheard of rate, and it’s only escalating.
The adoption of technology, specifically the Internet, has empowered consumers who are now able to amass the “perfect knowledge” previously thought to be held by brand marketers. In the past, these marketers would gather this information and then sift it through their “brand filter” to distill the appropriate message, shining a kind light on their offering for their target audience. Today, these same consumers have access to the “unfiltered” information and a marketers job is forever changed.
Consumers now have the ability to transcend traditional boundaries of geography, time, and communication channel to gather their own impression of a marketers offering. This empowerment has increased their savvy, creating less patient consumers who simply expect more from their trusted brands.
This consumer transition can be viewed as a parallel relationship between the adoption of technology and both the increase of visitor knowledge and the inpatients it has rendered to consumers. Through this transition, consumer reaction to and consumption of traditional communications has dropped. The really unfortunate thing is that marketers have reacted to this by doing more of what was becoming less efficient, trying to beat their message into the minds of their target audience. In turn, this increase in the communications drum beat is further deafening the ear of consumers. Making the whole issue even worse.
I’d love to hear your thoughts –
Goliath stood above David and looked him in the eye, but did not realize he had a blog…
Several years ago, a single individual created a huge uproar in the halls of CompUSA’s corporate offices. Here’s a link to one of the original posts. In a nutshell, the author accidentally purchased an empty box, that should have contained a camera, at a sidewalk sale. After a few posts, Terry generated hundreds of links and reciprocal coverage in the blog-world and caused some of the top search queries for “CompUSA” to be about his camera complaint. Within days, CompUSA contacted him again to offer payment.
This is an extraordinary event… an individual, armed with a blog, changed the direction of a major international organization in a mere few days. This is a great example of how consumers have developed a level of empowerment that has changed the way that marketers need to view their efforts, even policies.
Love to hear your thoughts –