The Consumer Is In Charge. Really?
In the world of marketing, "The consumer is in charge" is a popular phrase. It's something that we, as consumers, like to believe. It's also not that simple. Sure, we can Yelp about a curry chicken burrito that didn't blow our minds, and we can determine how many stars we want to give the Dawson's Creek dinner sets we bought on Amazon.* We can also price compare 'til we're numb to find the best deals and discounts on everything from curry chicken burritos to Dawson's Creek dinner sets. Which are perfect compliments, by the way.
But the same devices that give us so much power to purchase, share, rant, rave and review everything under the sun, also provide the Googles, Facebooks, and Apples of the world with mountains of personal information, giving them ever more insight into what we are or are not buying, and why. This is the "big data" everyone refers to these days, and consumers aren't the ones in charge of it.
So indeed, the consumers' voice does have an impact on brands. The question is, as "big data" continues to drown out that voice, will it continue to be heard? For any brand that sees value in a genuine relationship with loyal customers, the answer must still be "yes." No matter how tempting all that data is.
*You know what's really frustrating? Most rating systems only provide the rater a scale of one to five stars, and often do not allow a rater to give zero stars. So let's say you purchase a BeDazzler because you want to bejewel the back of an acid washed denim vest, but the item malfunctions halfway through the spelling of "BORN TO PARTY" leaving you with a vest that says "BORN TO P." You would probably want to give the item zero stars, but could not. Or perhaps you bought a camouflage Snuggie and found it to be so incredibly snuggly, you wanted to give it six stars, but could not. You're s.o.l. either way. I have found myself in both scenarios, and believe me, it's no picnic. It's a sad, lonely feeling.