The Paradigm Shift in Consumerism
We hear about various intelligent business solutions. There is a huge change in the business scenario today when we compare it with the business environment a decade back. However, what is the underlying factor that is forcing the companies to adopt the so-called real time, customer centric, proactive & intelligent solutions? Are the consumers becoming more intelligent day by day? May be the old and outdated business tricks are not enough to persuade the new intelligent consumer. Tomorrow’s consumer will be different from that of today’s’. It would be hard to sell to the future consumers when compared to the yesterdays as the intellectual level increases. Companies are investing huge resources just to understand the enlightened consumer soul. Customer centric approach, CRM software’s, Personalisation etc are becoming the new buzzwords.
Let us explore some factors, which are contributing, to the status of the consumers and giving them dominance over the companies. Most conspicuous would be the knowledge of available options for making an informed choice. When we consider the Indian consumers who have constantly increasing purchasing power in the world, we find that the consumers of various strata do enjoy the latest gadgets; be it smuggled, unbranded, cheap or economic “X” company goods. Competition could be lurking anywhere for the smart businesses based on the price quality, availability, mode of payment etc. In addition to that any information related to the products or services is readily available, the information barrier was the matter of the past, and even the secrets are merely a click away. The banking (even the state owned) companies have started tapping the potential of the new consumer by providing them with the latest shopping tools. The mobile technology is penetrating at a faster rate when compared to PCs penetration among Indian masses. Internet and Wi-Fi are no more dependent on the personal computers and the laptops. The 3G technology launch in India as well as the value added services will be fostering growth of further revolution in consumerism. Multiple SIM cards and well-equipped handsets are now trying to become at par with the ever-changing consumer’s aspirations.
Arrival of innovative products and updated services show that consumers are becoming quite intelligent to embrace new technology and way of life. Apple Inc., the leader of innovative technology products has shown to the world how much a business has to be updated to match the intellectual level of the consumers. The same can be seen in cutthroat competition in the web-market. All the digital firms are vying to capture the consciousness of the netizens. The improved versions of PDAs are coming in bizarre designs to appeal to the aesthetic intellect of consumers. Consumers are projecting their inner psyche and looking for smart offices and homes enabled with intelligent products and services.
To capture every consumer’s mind companies are using the smart brand positioning and advertisement. The high levels of abstractness, avant-grade advertisements are the demands of the turbulent age of marketing promotion. The more innovative the advertisement is more will be the penetration in consumer’s psyche. Recently an automobile company has introduced its product in print advertisement with an audio touch. Creating demand essentially requires channelizing & shaping the inherent needs and drives. As told by the great marketers of the century, “the emotional value attached with the product exceeds the actual value of the product for established brand”. Therefore, the businesses need to understand the deep-seated cravings & aspirations of the consumer’s intellect and transform them into fascinating offerings. The changing lifestyle of the consumer is pushing the firms towards a “whole new world” where imagination meets reality. Therefore, there is no place for dumb & unintelligent offerings in today’s marketplace of smart and intelligent consumers.Various reports regarding Business state that consumers’ needs to be integrated in the business process more actively rather passively. There is a changing shift from passive consumption to active co-creation. Now the main question arises how to incorporate the consumers’ intelligence into the company’s offerings & How to collect the wisdoms of consumers.
Collaboration & co-creation have started a new revolution in the business world. There is always a scope to leverage the consumer’s intelligence to buttress the business process of the company. The new and efficient collaborating tools and co-creation platforms are been improvised, to tap the creativity of the consumers. Consumers in this knowledge economy era are always ready to aid the product or service development processes. Collaborative tools, feedback processes, co creation platforms are going to be mantra in the business world. At last, Business is “for the consumers” why not make it “by the consumers” too. Who else can better tell the changing desires and aspirations than the consumer himself. Businesses can leverage the intelligence of their fans and followers to create new and innovative products.Open source software is the perfect example of this, various Digital Applications tools & the Advanced Web generations products are upgraded with the help of the consumers. The behavioural intelligence of the consumer is quite enough for making a completely new shift in the business style; the collective buying behavior has given rise to the upcoming group buying sites. In the gaming world, the collaboration has been speeded up to develop the games and interfaces more appealing to the consumers. Approach of Google in the area of collaboration is quite appreciative, to increase the content of the websites in vernacular languages. The Wikipedia itself is a self-explanatory term & created a knowledge revolution on the web. The user-generated content promoted YouTube to the top of the online video sharing companies & the YouTube Company in its own website updates negligible content.
From Digital World to Automobiles industry, everyone has started taking the whole concept of co creation and innovation seriously thereby creating a room for the customers and users to utilise their creativity. Not only the digital companies but also their brick and mortar counterparts such as Boeing (using collaborative innovation), Dell (mass customisation), and P&G (Open Innovation) are capitalising the philosophy of co creation in its own version.The new trend of the cooperation will surely increase the loyalty and the devotion of the consumer. As the business changes from individual (B2C) to organisational consumer (B2B), the collaboration becomes more and more imperative. For the big and gigantic consumer the collaboration becomes the lifeline and boon. NASSCOM has divulged that the trend of co creation with the overseas clients is becoming more and more important as the technology is entering the phase of cloud computing and the extreme product engineering.
Business organisations are incorporating the consumers’ knowledge in the various processes through the help of customer relationship management and knowledge management tools. In the knowledge economy, the consumers or the end users’ knowledge plays a crucial role & gives insights to streamline the whole business for better efficiency. The “knowledge of customer”, “knowledge about customer” and “knowledge for customer” needs to be properly collaborated for co-creations objectives. Management Guru CK Prahlad opined, “To create value continuously we must create knowledge continuously & for creating knowledge suitable environment needs to be created”.The changing pattern from autocratic business model to the democratic style of leadership among the various fortune companies has made the business more interesting and consumer centric। A true enterprise needs to inculcate the democratic market strategy. The future of competition and customer centricity will be determined by the integrative and holistic approach shown towards nurturing business. It is not about pushing any trash to the market rather facilitating the dynamic market to achieve the propensity to innovate…!