Digital Consumers are from Mars?

Last friday, In a meeting with few elite marketing brains, I was amused to hear that online research will reach to the “Digital Consumers”, the “Digital Consumers” motivation may be very different from the normal consumers. This innocent comment made by one of my peers made me think really hard on the fact that can you actually classify a consumer as “Digital Consumer”?

At the mention of Second Life , Twitter, Widgets, Wikis or any other Web 2.0 application, people often undergo a marketing (and common sense ) bypass. This is because of jargon peddled around by “digitized marketers”.I believe the most damaging thought is the idea of “new socially connected consumer”.  Who operates in a hyper connected cyber-world of his own and who shrouds in mystery, in making marketers really nervous.

I’d like to state that firstly there is no such thing as the “digital consumer”. There is no great mystery about how they think and what they want. Secondly these consumers are doing exactly the same thing what people have been doing for centuries-i.e.communicating with each other.

The fact that technology is enabling them to communicate with each other-faster, closer, when mobile and 3-D virtual worlds-is being perceived as something extraordinary! People are just talking to each other, just that they are not doing that in a pub and talking to 5-10 peers but interacting with 5 -10,000 on online.

Web 2.0 or now Web 3.0 has just one message for marketers, get away from broadcast mindset, where marketers tell consumers what to think and buy. Instead we have to realize that it is the interaction and conversation that really counts, and this is taking place between consumers across multiple mediums.

Digital age has given consumers more ways to converse; it has made it easier for marketers to find what they are conversing about and who these people are.

As marketers we need to think about influencing, informing and stimulating the conversations that are already taking place. Identify influential and important people and work with them. It is today even more important than ever to come up with a Big Idea! An Idea which can communicate across channels, and where each channel can communicate a different, self-contained element of the brand narrative, but in combination with other channels, which will unite to create a larger brand world. A 360 Degree Idea.

Old Age marketers need to realize, that they are no longer initiating the conversation about product benefits to the consumers-but they should try and become a part of the conversation that the consumers are having with each other. The consumers are no longer niave to be told about the benefits which product offer, she wants to be the benefit creator herself!. Brand Value will spread not through mass media in future but through networks of the humans talking to each other.

While in past 5 decades the marketing landscape and tools available have changed, Internet has reminded us that the consumer behaviour and many marketing basics have remained the same.  The most basic rule being trust and respect!

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