The Power of the Consumer in the future of Marketing

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Humans are beings of order and we struggle to process simultaneous external stimuli on a conscious level.

On a subconscious level daily we are exposed to and filter thousands of different media messages each day.

Although this number is virtually impossible to calculate accurately, two studies conducted by research firms in London and New York in 2005 and 2007 respectively, calculated that on average a consumer is exposed to between 3,500* to 5,000** media messages a day respectively. It would be interesting to know how much this number has increased over the past 9 years and how cities like London, New York, Beijing, Johannesburg, Cape Town in terms of the amount and type of daily media exposures?

To fully understand the impact that marketing and media has on the daily lives of our consumers, we need to look into the past and see how the industries have changed; not evolved. The Media and Marketing industries has always operated in isolated channels. These media channels are broadly defined as TV, Radio, Out of Home, Print, Press & Digital. Whereas the marketing channels are defined as Advertising, Public Relations, Sponsorships, Promotions, Direct Marketing, Digital.”

Herein lies the ‘Marketing and Media Conundrum’.

The reason the industries have been defined as such, is that it is aligned to how humans need to compartmentalise concepts. Without taking into consideration what it actually means to a consumer. There is a misaligned agenda between how ‘Marketing and Media’ are managed by businesses and how consumers actually consume on a daily basis.

Furthermore this alignment can be due to the hierarchal structure of business and their supporting budgets and budget lines. The structure of businesses is changing with more emphasis on autonomy, transparency and efficiency. This change has been driven by the consumer and the increase in competition.

How has this impacted on these Industries?

Fundamentally, how we consume marketing and media versus how we sell or buy it is completely different. Consumption is irrational and the business side of buying and selling is rational.

The Marketing Industry is at a very crucial junction. Currently there is a lot of legacy in the form of how marketing was budgeted in the past. This coupled with a more savvy consumer and increased competition where a contender brand can launch a competing product at a lower price that sells to the consumer while building brand equity and market share.

The content and context that will remain constant in the future is story-telling and consumer technology.

As humans, one of our strongest forces is to belong. Stories are the lubrication of our societies and how this ‘news’ is printed, published or broadcasted does not matter as much to consumers as it used to, as long as it is relevant and they are informed.

The variety of types of distribution points have blossomed over the last decade from BBM, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, Facebook, WhatsApp, Tumblr, Youtube, TenCent, QQ, Medium, LinkedIn (from which I am sharing my thoughts with you now) have pioneered the immediacy of stories from breaking news, citizen journalism and social stories, which all has the power to change governments, businesses and for consumers to become true citizen of the world.

This trend is evidenced in some very interesting developments across all types of content and mediums. The only commonality in this regard is that technology is the engine driving these developments. Generally when the amoebic term ‘technology’ is thrown into the discussion, immediately the first association is with the Internet and the access platforms, you as a consumer are most familiar with, comes to mind first. On the contrary, it is the broader context of technology that I am referring to which includes software, hardware, data warehousing, storage and distribution platforms.

In general, the advent of new technologies and their decreasing cost to own, coupled with the access to information by anyone from anywhere has revolutionised the Travel, Retail, Auto, Financial, Entertainment and Telecom industries.

In fact there is not an industry that is not immune to the impact technology at the fingertips of consumers has.

Much has been said about these technology ‘Disruptors’, I prefer the term ‘Consumer Champions’ as it is more aligned to abundance instead of scarcity, creating instead of protecting, the consumer instead of the corporation.

Some notable ‘Consumer Champions” to industries are:

  • AirBnB has changed the Hospitality & Rental Industries.
  • Uber has changed the Transport & Delivery Industries.
  • Shazam, Spotify, Apple have changed the Music Industry
  • ‘XYZ’ will change your Business and Industry.

In emerged markets such as South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Brazil and India the most basic of consumer technologies, the mobile phone is championing entrepreneurs from the ground up wether it be in a townships in Nairobi, a favela of Brazil or a slums in Mumbai.

What is the solution?

CEOs, Owners and Marketers need to radically change the definition of the words ‘Marketing’ and ‘Media’ in their organisations and most importantly how they are structured within their businesses tomorrow. This can be done by looking at what is the ’Time Spent’ on consumer attention and how they can harness new ‘Technology’ to ethically champion their industry from within. The world’s largest marketer and media buyer Unilever zero-based their budgets globally in 2016 to serve the needs of their customers and not their brands.

As the saying goes, ‘If you can’t beat them, join them.’ I would take the liberty to change this to ‘If you can’t beat them, lead them’.

Lead with new innovations and a responsive organisational structure and budget that will allow you to challenge perceptions and the status quo.

But remember, it is not Content or the Channel or the Technology Platform or the Advertising Award that is King, it is the Consumer.

The Consumer is your son and daughter and they are not stupid, these Princes and Princesses are shaping your industry, business and the marketing and media industries futures for tomorrow.

Does this help you and how can I help your brand or business?

SOURCES:
*http://www.theguardian.com/media/2005/nov/19/advertising.marketingandpr
**http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/15/business/media/15everywhere.html?pagewanted=all

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