Saturday, March 21, 2009

Consumers, Producers, and Marketing Change

There is a change happening before our eyes that will impact the way marketers view their role. It will change the way marketers define and measure return on marketing investment. This fundamental change in society is the evaporation of the distinction between consumers and producers.

For decades our society has been based on the proposition that a limited set of producers distribute and make available products to a large set of consumers. We might target a segment of the broader consumer market, but typically we operate in an environment where a scarce number of producers create and sell solutions for a larger group of buyers.

So what happens when technology allows inidivduals to become producers? Ten years ago a business needed to go to a web firm to build a web site. Today, any person can create a web site or a blog instantly and at no cost. Ten years ago a limited number of publishing firms decided what authors words were published. Today anyone can self-publish. The barriers to entry are diminishing in many categories.

As a marketer, how will you respond and measure performance when your consumers can also become producers? Do you measure the production of media content that consumers produce about your company or product? Do you evaluate whether that publsihed content is positive or negative? Do you attempt to pariticipate in the conversation?

One last thought. We talk about citizens as consumers. When everyone becomes both a consumer and a producer, will the language change?

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