Doug Garnett’s Blog


Power to the Consumer! (At least until the next fad.)

2011 is the time of massive movement in advertising — a revolution. And this revolution restructures everything we do – from how we make our populist coffee to beginning to care whether our messages are meaningful.

We’re placing consumers #1! Because now, here, in 2011 and despite the incredible buffer ad agencies and marketers erect around the ivory towers, we’ve discovered that real people buy our products! That’s right – real people! Imagine!

Why is that today we hear “power to the consumer” from so many people who could truly care less about the consumer? (Those who care about the consumer show it in their actions far more than they talk about it.)

I’m reminded of an experience early in my career while employed by the world’s largest aerospace company. My division was a service division. At some point complaints from the operating divisions drove a decision to train us to be “customer focused”. We all spent a day listening to an evangelical preacher/business consultant as he alliterated his way to astounding heights of emotional empowerment. And, he exhorted us to care for our customers.

My boss at the time, a sage senior manager and an ex-Navy radar expert, explained the truth. “You know,” he told me, “people like you who are customer centric will continue to be. But the people who really need this training will now talk about being customer centric without becoming customer centric. What a waste of our time.”

It seems that for the vast majority in the ad biz, consumer concern is means to an end – a fad. Right now, we’re in the equivalent of a gold rush where agencies and tech companies preach consumer respect because they think it will make them rich. But as soon as markets shift and the winds of profit blow against this fad, those same companies will go dashing off after some other big idea. And where will we be?

Those companies who understand their consumers and deliver things they need will continue to succeed as has always been the case.

And those who don’t, won’t.

And in the aftermath of the gold rush, the tumbleweeds of artificial consumer respect will gather against the abandoned decaying hulks of buildings that once housed those who only claimed to respect consumers.

Fortunately, the real world will still be a good place to live. So the rest of us will continue to run our businesses respecting the consumer, delivering results for our clients, and making decent money.

Copyright 2011 – Doug Garnett – All Rights Reserved

Categories:   Brand Advertising, Business and Strategy, Communication, consumer goods, consumer marketing, Consumer research, Human Tech, Innovation, marketing, Marketing Research, New media, Retail marketing, Social Media, Technology Advertising, technology marketing


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