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Testing the Pressure: The Consumer Barometer

Marketers from the “golden age” of advertising have had their legend inflated to great heights by television’s Mad Men. But no matter how cool they were (or at least seem to us today), those executives would be green with envy at our ability to collect, measure, and react to data in the 21st century.

Of course, we live in a radically different paradigm than this idealized era. The seemingly endless amount of information at our disposal would be absolutely useless in the context of the 1950s or 60s. Unfortunately, simply having access to this bevy of facts and figures does not automatically make the modern marketer better; the more we know about consumers, the less we often seem to understand them at all. The challenge we face is how to intelligently interpret and react to the ‘Big Data’ at our fingertips. In order to make sense of what we know, we must sort through the veritable ocean of information and decide which data is relevant, and how best to apply it.

Earlier this year, Ersnt & Young Advisory Services reported the findings of a monumental market research survey in This Time It’s Personal: From Consumer to Co-Creator that revealed several important new findings about the behavior and preferences of modern consumers. Accruing nearly 25,000 responses globally, the survey presented insights into the new breed of consumer and the trends that, in response, might characterize 2013.

The report describes the “Chameleon” consumer – who defies any traditional persona and disrupts the old notion of strict market segmentation. Thanks to the prevalence of this behavior, brand loyalty has become more transient, as preferences quickly change in a more crowded market with more options. Creating strong brand experiences now requires far more personalized communication and service. Consumers are empowered, and they want to be active ‘co-creators,’ not just an audience. We already know that marketing ‘lingo’ has been made effectively obsolete by social media, but these findings are a broader comment on the changing nature of commerce itself.

Visualized graphically, there is a clear consistency of response in the data across different verticals and the various channels of communication that drive marketing around the world. Regardless of industry, respondents had uniform expectations about the dynamic between marketer and consumer. As such, the implications for businesses of all kinds are twofold;

1. Businesses must focus on offering more personalized service to customers, and
2. Every link in the organizations’ ‘chain’ must be aligned to delivering the brand promise.

In a rapidly changing ecosystem that has taken a great deal of control away from marketers who fail to understand consumers, it is the best path to creating sustainable relationships with the new breed. With 2013 just around the corner, the pressure is on.

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