Sailaja N. Joshi

Change Gonna Come Big Business

In Anthropology, Consumer 2.0, Social Change, United States on April 16, 2010 at 11:07 am

I’ve been spending a lot of time combing the web and LinkedIn for companies that are at the forefront of Consumer Insights and understand that innovation in marketing research is the key to brand success. What is awesome about combing is that I often stumble upon case studies done up by corporations I want to work for. Being the research geek that I am, I relish this opportunity to learn more about consumers through other people’s research.

Yesterday, I came upon this great case study conducted by Mr.Youth, a marketing research firm in NYC and RepNation. The study outlines five ways in which consumers have changed (understatement of the century) as a result of technology and the ‘flattening of the world.’ So, without further ado, here are those five rules and ove’ course-my take on them.

1. Authenticy trumps celebrity: “Consumer 2.0 responds to honest relevant messaging from peers over marketing speak and celebrity endorsements.”

a. That’s right. Consumers are done being lied to, cheated on and taken for granted. They’re moving on from that relationship big business. They’ve taken control of the relationship and now business must listen to them.

2. Niche is the new norm:Consumer 2.0 does not form a mass market. They relish in choices and look for products and services that speak to them personally.”

a. Enter Consumer Anthropology. I’ve been saying it since 2006 but until companies actually learn who their consumers REALLY are, they aren’t going anywhere.

3. Bite Sized Communication Dominates: “Consumer 2.0 digests short, personal and highly relevant messages in bulk while growing increasingly adept at blocking out noise.”

a. Ah, the 140 Consumer. That’s right, speak to me and speak to me in 140 characters or less. Can’t do that? BYE!

4. Personal Utility Drives Adoption: “Consumer 2.0 chooses to consume what they find useful in their own lives over manufactured needs.”

a. I wonder how the CEO’s of yesteryear are taking this one. No one is brand loyal. No one. I think the key to having some sort of brand loyalty will be by following through on point #2 above.

5. Consumers Own Brands: “Consumer 2.0 will speak out, repurpose and associate with a brand as they see fit.”

  1. a. Last week I tweeted at JetBlue telling them I was pissed that they changed my flight with one hour notice. They messaged me back within 5 minutes. On Monday I wrote a diatribe on AAA’s Facebook page condemning their customer service earlier in the day. They wrote back in two hours. The point? Companies are now forced to listen to consumers because if they don’t, the consumer will make sure their voice is heard in every which way possible.

I think these five laws can be summed up in one phrase, “The Customer is Always Right.” I think before the economic meltdown, companies were taking consumers’ for granted and assuming that slapping something shiny on the packaging will make it “new and improved.”

Now, consumers are smarter. Much smarter and they demand respect and products that meet THEIR expectation, not those of an executive board. So, companies better step their consumer game up, because like Sam Cooke say, Change gonna’ come nephew.

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  1. I think the problem definitely lies in business looking at consumers not as people, but as dollar bills. Umair frames this idea best that I think plays into what you’re saying here: http://blogs.hbr.org/haque/2009/10/how_useless_is_your_business.html

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