1. I think Digital Signage will help retailers catch up. By posting panels in the aisles with live, actual, user reviews we’ll begin to see some of this “phoning a friend” proactively offered by the retailer.
    But then it comes back to credibility. Consumers trust their friends more, right?
    And aren’t retailers continuously adjusting their product mix and offerings based on real time ordering, trending and consumer feedback anyway. How much more info do we need. Or is it all just a game? A way to justify our purchases?
    My 2¢ worth, for only 1.25¢ with a Groupon.

  2. We’re in that awkward position of experts vs. the group.
    We’re seeing the rise of ‘the group’, whether it be social media, referendums or polls (think American Idol®). Experts have been around for a while. As a creative director I’d like to think that experts have something to say – I’d even point you to ‘Blink’ by M. Gladwell.
    One of my many issues with ‘the crowd’ is that they don;t have all of the factors when making choices of decisions.
    That said there can be some great benefits/actions that come out of listening to the crowd – as long as it’s filtered back through the experts.

  3. Many marketers (and sales people) see consumers as a transaction and there lies the rub. Ask any retail sales person if they are being told to sell something in particular this week and the answer will be “Of course”. Where is the trust in that equation? So while consumers turn to reviews, why would they trust the outlet’s site when the sales person has already damaged the brand’s trust factor?
    The front ends of too many companies have become measurement machines attempting to forecast everything from the quality of a lead to likely number of conversions. The problem here? The buyer is not represented in any of this data – it’s all about the company itself. And in solution and complex sales, it is creating a culture of mistrust while sales people dial for dollars rather than develop needs.
    So if my internal operational supply-chain values data over the customer, what kind of culture do I have? In a connected world, one where the brand gets outed by its culture. Sure, they can give money to starving children in some far away place, but in a connected world, we call that old fashioned PR.

  4. Bravo
    One of the big contributors to this, obviously, is that the technology side of the industry is so consumer focused. Marketers – and producers of the technology they use – need to get their act together. They can’t afford to not be connected or to have the tools that allow them to fully capitalize on the way that consumers are creating content and attempting to interact with the brand.
    This goes way beyond the capabilities of what Facebook and Twitter can do for businesses. Take customer service for example. The progression of this is rooted in the ability for businesses to identify if and when customers are in their store – then taking the next step toward interaction and engagement. Using technology to better in-person interactions is so key for businesses with a brick and mortar presence.
    With this consumer technology focus, we’ve seen the creation of empowered consumers. But the miss is that while they have a forum, they still haven’t gained any ground in truly shaping their experiences while in a store, etc.
    Producing technology that combines the ability for brands to react and consumers to morph their interactions with brands in a truly real-time setting isn’t the only hurdle though. It’s a paradigm shift within these stores that’s difficult for some to grasp because there’s not immediate lift in ROI. Training employes on how to monitor and react to feedback, and then empowering them so that they can immediately remedy or enhance a situation without having to jump through organizational hoops for approval – the same shift that has been preached throughout the social media boom – is a key to adoption of these technologies.
    Once that happens, the businesses will be able to get ahead of this.

  5. In the age of mass marketing, marketers were successful at separating consumers from their traditional information sources: trust networks and guides. Technology has simply restored an equilibrium. Now instead of trying to tell customers they’re worthy of that trust, brands must prove that they really are worthy.

  6. A lot of good responses here but I think what Tobias Bray said hits it right between the eyes!
    Marketers are going to have to help companies understand they will continue to slip in the hearts of their “target customer” or that disgusting reference used of “consumers” if they are not willing to lose the ‘old model’ approach of doing business within their industry and began to embrace what I call co-business approaches where the customer is encouraged to partner with companies.
    Of course, this concept scares the crap out many CEO’s and shareholders because it clearly takes them out of the role of being in control and could provide a scary ride for them. Truth is though…the ‘untethered consumer’ IS the one in control NOW whether business wants to admit it or not.

  7. Today in Australia, News Corp just announced that it is going back to a pay for services on it’s major Newspaper sites. They are betting that with enough marketing, they can convince enough people that paying for their online newspapers will make the model sustainable.
    And yesterday McDonalds said that they have just retrained their baristas and made their coffee blend “stronger” (don’t even know what that means) and will do their biggest media buy in years to drive the new message home that they now have good coffee…
    So I would argue that business is deliberately selecting to stay behind their consumers because they would not know what to do if they got out in front of them…

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