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Modern Marketing Must Put Consumers in Charge

by David Crosbie , 19.09.2012

Remember the line about a camel being a horse designed by committee? This idea flashed across my mind when I saw a newspaper ad recently for the world’s first car to be ‘crowdsourced’ via Facebook. I must add at this point that the resulting vehicle, the Citroen C1 Connexion, is a smart looking city car, distinguished by its bright red door handles and wing mirrors. More interesting, however, is the way I felt the idea encapsulates one of the most important shifts currently taking place in consumer attitudes towards marketing and purchase decisions; namely their desire to feel empowered and in control.

In the years since the global financial crisis and resulting economic stagnation in mature markets of the world, GfK Roper Reports Worldwide has shown a growth in what we call the ‘Self-directed’ values orientation, a mindset characterised by a desire for freedom and self-reliance. This manifests itself in a reluctance among some consumers to place their trust just in a known brand, but to be more questioning, to research thoroughly and to determine for themselves the best product or service available.

An important element of this self-reliance is the ability to garner information and opinions on the best product and service to buy from fellow consumers, rather than having to rely on getting information from advertising, company websites etc.  Latest data from GfK Roper Reports Worldwide show that fully one third of consumers (33%) agree that they are interested in other people’s opinions about what products and services to buy, while a similar proportion say they go out of their way to tell others about products and services they really like.

The desire among consumers to feel that they are making an independent and informed decision, and that they have the power to influence what kinds of products and services are available to them has important implications for how companies design, retail and market their wares.  Consumers want more than ever to get the relevant information about products, for instance, but they are not always content with more traditional forms of advertising. The Citroen campaign mentioned above is a good example of a company attempting to engage consumers in a new way, even though traditional print advertising still has an important role to play.

These themes and more are explored in two brand new Need to Know reports on Media and Advertising, from GfK Roper Reports US and Worldwide. For information on how to access these, please contact us. In the spirit of consumer power, we can even customise them for you!

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