Does Marketing and Communications change fast enough to keep pace with consumers?
It's becoming more difficult and brands are falling behind (in short, no... Marketing is not keeping pace). We need to face one cold, hard truth (and then figure out what to do about it): this is the first time in our civilization where consumers are more advanced (in terms of both technology and how they are communicating) than the Marketers. Prior to all of this connectivity (and yes, Social Media plays a big role in this development), Marketers led the way by creating and producing messages that no individual consumer could have ever conjured up, but things have changed.
The completely untethered consumer is doing things we never really imagined.
Go back ten years and ask yourself if you ever thought that individuals would engage and talk about brands the way they do today. I'm not talking about "liking" them on Facebook or tweeting on Twitter about a customer service issue: I'm talking about ratings and reviews. If you look at companies like Bazaarvoice and PowerReviews and dig beneath the surface of their data, the sheer volume of consumer reviews being created is staggering (Bazaarvoice claims to have served over 150 billion impressions of consumer reviews), but the evolution (or is this a revolution?) soldiers on. Just as brands were getting semi-used to engaging with consumers in the online channels, how are things going to change when consumers bring this added perspective right down to the retail level.
Mobile connectivity just changed everything (again).
The news item, Consumer use of mobile to access retail content jumped significantly: Study, caught my attention. Here's the macro piece of data that should drop your jaw to the floor: "The number of consumers accessing content from retailers via their mobile devices in the past year increased a dramatic 74 percent for a total 13 million, according to a new report from ad network Millennial Media." Yup, this is what happens when everyone is connected: now if you're not sure about something you're about to buy while you're in the store, you can "phone a friend" (to steal a turn of phrase from Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?). Not only can consumer's research general information - right then and there - but you can poll your social graph to see if whatever it is that you're looking buy is the right decision for you.
You may not be surprised that people are doing this, but trust me, retailers have close-to-zero clue how to deal with this.
Think about it this way: if you have a problem with a brand, the majority of us tend to go home and tweet, Blog or Facebook about our issues to the world, in hopes that the brands are monitoring those frequencies and will respond because they have been publicly outed. Now, consumers can do it live and in the store. This cuts down the response time afforded most brands and moves retail into the real-time Web (probably kicking and screaming). Take a look at some of your favorite retailers and compare their online experience (websites, microsites, email newsletters, etc...) to what they're doing in the mobile realm (mobile-friendly website, apps, txt, QR codes, etc...). Most brands are not at an optimal level of performance. The challenge is not that the Web strategy has had more time to marinate or that the mobile strategy still needs some work. The true challenge lies in looking at it from the consumer's perspective... the connected consumer's perspective... the untethered consumer's perspective....
Do you think Marketers will ever be able to get ahead of this?