Inspiring the Future: Brands React to the Age of the Consumer

The age of the consumer is upon us and companies are reacting. Never before have consumers had so much power, and businesses are responding accordingly – making sure to listen every step of the way (or at least they should be if they know what’s good for them!).

Sally O’Rourke, Managing Director, Europe at Communispace, recently spoke at the Breakthrough Innovation conference in Berlin, which saw the likes of Coca-Cola, Nestl√©, Shell and Visa onstage, and the M2C event with speakers from Dell, Jack Daniel’s and Capital One, to name a few. After returning from these events, Sally reflected on how brands are responding to the growing power of consumers.

As noted in a previous post, consumers are longing to escape the “noise.” Consumers do not wish to be bombarded with marketing material. Instead they yearn for simplicity; we are already seeing ¬†effects of this, with de-branding, personalization, playfulness and increased consumer control.

Some great examples of response to this trend can be seen with Coca-Cola, with two of their recent campaigns. Coke worked with Marc Jacobs and Jean Paul Gaultier, sharing their brand space with the designers, who produced beautiful designs for Coke bottles and cans. More recently, Coke launched the Name campaign, which sees 150 different names printed onto the containers, giving the experience a personalized and tailored feel.

Some brands have been far more severe. Starbucks, for example, has completely de-branded some of their stores, removing their logo entirely, and designing each store to be more in keeping with the local area. This has been so successful Starbucks is due to open one such store in Macy’s New York – unique experience design championing mass, uniform chains.

There are more and more marketplace examples that enable consumers to have control. Converse now allows you to design your own shoes. Roqbot is a social music app that allows you to change music in public spaces. And at the MakerBot store in New York City, consumers can bring their ideas to life through the use of 3D printers.

The brands that will succeed are those that can tap into consumers who, by and large, do want to connect and also want enhanced control. In what is clearly the age of the consumer, it’s time to start listening!

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