The more information consumers have at their fingertips, the greater their power. The Internet is a huge enabler, and increased Web access and the growth of mobile computing will empower them further. Nielsen says a quarter of Americans already own a smartphone, and sales will outstrip standard cell phones by late 2011. Add augmented reality and iPads, and the “consumer is king” trend seems increasingly like an understatement.
There are no easy solutions for advertisers, but solutions will need to be found. The answer may lie in partnering with consumers via new permission marketing and socially networked models, and/or encouraging them to accept brands into their lives, by increasing incentivising, loyalty and smart targeting. One thing’s for sure: able to access data and control purchasing like never before, American consumers will not return to the passive, top-down, brand-led model lovingly recreated in Mad Men and now increasingly looking like a distant fairy tale.
The consumer should be king. Now, and always. Brand marketers have been lulled to sleep by the idea that they have something special to say, when that’s rarely the case. What do consumers want to hear? That’s the question that needs to be sought and answered.