Magazine article Marketing

Andrew Walmsley on Digital: The Year of Consumer Empowerment

Magazine article Marketing

Andrew Walmsley on Digital: The Year of Consumer Empowerment

Article excerpt

As we career headlong into 2007, pausing only to put on a little weight over Christmas, it is often difficult to find the time to step back from the day-to-day pressures of work to look beyond this week's sales figures and next week's reports to the themes likely to dominate the coming year.

Fret no more: here are my top-three digital trends for the marketing world in 2007 - the areas in which I expect to see significant growth - for you to cut out, keep, or perhaps use as emergency wrapping paper.

Apple might have sued its evangelists, but most marketers view the trend toward consumer-generated advertising as a big opportunity. From ads that allow users to personalise the content before sending it on, such as the emailable trailer on, to encouraging users to create ads from scratch - see, where firms place advertising briefs for consumers to fulfil - it is becoming clear that this is the beginning of a new world for advertisers. Some will see its significance simply as the chance to save on production budgets, but there is a bigger game being played.

Becoming part of the conversation between consumers is infinitely more powerful than handing down information via traditional advertising. It encourages and facilitates consumers to become a part of the process, rather than being dumb recipients of the message from on high - and that is of huge potential value to brands. Check out for dozens of short films made by brand fans to see what I mean.

A similar trend is for the web to build a role as a customer insight mechanism for new product development, encouraging consumers to help create better products. Although it started with the open source movement, which saw thousands of individuals co-operating over the web to produce software, it is a trend that conventional manufactured goods companies are signing up to. lets customers design their own T-shirts and vote for others, Jones Soda (jones encourages consumers to design custom labels for its bottles, and is Procter & Gamble's ongoing mums' feedback site, with focus groups, surveys and discussions providing a stream of consumer input on NPD.

From using message boards to glean feedback on products, to websites that allow consumers to design and buy their own bespoke versions of products, such as Lego Factory, companies are inviting customers in, and gaining a competitive edge by doing so. …

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