Over the last decade we have seen some truly incredible technological advances. The modern consumer world has taken a new shape, as we become more and more enriched with the latest gadgets and gizmos we find ourselves craving and itching for the next big thing or that all important upgrade. It was only in 2002 when the first full colour mobile phone was released. In 11 quick years, we have transitioned from “astonished” to “impatient”. Now all the talk is about smart phones, tablets, HD TV, the cloud, internet on planes, cars that park themselves, and any other concept that was once only a fallacy. The only difference is that now these fallacies have suddenly become real, and in turn consumers have become perpetually demanding.
Whilst product advancements have been coming thick and fast, so has the desire to connect, share and communicate.
Suddenly any smartphone, tablet or even games console you buy has instant access to the ever more powerful world of social media. We see the Apple and Android app stores pioneering the way forward to provide a platform for people to have a voice, 24 hours a day. Suddenly the corporate world has to stand up and listen. Consumers have – almost over night – become indubitably powerful. Now we see companies, large or small, listening to what consumers have to say, no longer restricted to fruitless email exchanges or subjected to hours spent waiting on hold to call centres. No, now a new generation has evolved, and it is one whereby consumers head straight to a company’s twitter feed, or Facebook page where they can publicly make their opinions known, for all to see.
There’s a new face of the consumer, and it seems that if you don’t take note and listen you could get left behind. It is clear that B2C communication has taken up a new position on the priority list, and that companies are looking to new ways of engagement – frequent communication, personalised messaging and promotions, and public (social media) interactions are becoming the norm. There has been over a 40% rise of local business pages join Facebook in the last 12 months alone, making there a staggering total of 13 million pages worldwide. So, as the shift into the digital age continues, and consumers become more empowered through multiple social media channels, we are seeing big blue chips and SMEs alike enhancing their focus on a greater and better brand image. Sounds good.
But, and there’s always a but, could there be a danger that consumers are becoming too comfortable in these new cosy surroundings? With longer, unread T&Cs impending, and clever new ways of accessing personal data developing daily, I cannot help but think that the road may be a little more complicated than it seems. Only time will tell, but for now, one thing is certain, and that is that the consumer is finally winning!