Consumer Impact on Advertising Grows

    July 1, 2005

Consumer impact and influence is growing. The New York Times details how consumers are interacting with advertising campaigns and influencing their outcome.

But we’re having an impact further upstream as wellas early as the product design stage. Trendwatching has a thorough analysis of this trend. They call it customer made. It has been around for awhile, but its momentum picked up when a myriad of technologies emerged to facilitate a real dialogue between consumers and corporations.

Consumer Impact On Advertising Grows

Marketing has finally become a conversation. Not between corporations and consumers, but rather a global conversation involving millions of consumers ABOUT corporations. On sites like, on millions of blogs, community sites, forums, viral emails, bulletin boards, and what have you, consumers relentlessly exchange views, complaints, opinions and comments about products and services, about brands, about companies, about YOUR company.

These fickle, wired, empowered, informed, opinionated and experienced holders of a MC (Master in Consumerism) are getting used to ‘having it their way’, in ANY way imaginable, which includes wanting to have a direct influence on what companies develop and produce for them.

It certainly helps that these same consumers are creative and increasingly have access to professional hardware, software, and online distribution channels to show (and dictate) companies what it is they expect from them, using text, sound, picture and video in ever more powerful ways.

Some companies are also engaging these customers in new ways. These companies are clearly aware that tapping into the collective intellectual capital of their customers yields great creative and ‘real’ content. However, let’s not make the mistake to think that in the end these conversations will all be about communications and branding: how about extending this cooperation with consumers to virtually everything a corporation does, by making the customer an integral part of ALL creative and creational processes?

TRENDWATCHING.COM has dubbed the latter CUSTOMER-MADE the phenomenon of corporations creating goods, services and experiences in close cooperation with consumers, tapping into their intellectual capital, and in exchange giving them a direct say in what actually gets produced, manufactured, developed, designed, serviced, or processed.”

If only the TV networks would put this trend into practice. What if the seemingly, creatively-bankrupt TV networks created programs in close cooperation with viewers and produced shows they really wanted to see? Would this approach have stopped “Welcome to the Neighborhood” from being made? Hopefully. The reality series “had people with various backgrounds vie to win a house in a white neighborhood.” Civil rights groups stopped ABC from airing the series.

TV networks and production companies could create a series of blogs, or more likely vlogs, that would serve as a test lab to get direct input from viewers on what they want to see on TV and get their reaction to projects before they are giving the green light. Not unlike the open source press release process we’ve seen recently, this approach creates something the public actually wants to see.

Some free advice to Nielsen: leverage your ownership of the TV research and measurement market. Expand into the early stages of programming. Create a blog.

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Kevin Dugan is the author of the popular Strategic Public Relations blog. Kevin is Director of Marketing Communications for FRCH Design Worldwide.

Visit Kevin’s blog: Strategic Public Relations.