This question plagues business people at every level, particularly due to the swiftly changing technological landscape that has characterized the market over the past few years. The power of prediction is a valuable tool in a marketer’s pocket, and it can mean the difference between being the number one recognized brand in an industry, and bankruptcy. The stakes are high in this “age of the customer,” as Forrester’s George Colony calls it, with customers demanding more transparency from the agencies that supply their products while entrepreneurs constantly rewrite what is expected of a company to provide to their consumers.
There is one trend that stands out among the rest, as evidenced by being a running theme throughout the presentations given at LeWeb Paris this year. This trend was categorized by Jeremiah Owyang, Chief Catalyst & Founder of the brand new Crowd Companies with idea of a collaborative economy.
This concept describes a marketplace in which consumers directly influence the products they purchase and the companies they patronize. Companies like U-haul and GE are recognizing the power of the consumer in the marketplace by giving individuals investment power and using the crowd to creative innovation.
The collaborative economy also includes the concept that more and more consumers are relying on themselves and their community to get the things they want, through means such as 3D printing and services like Etsy.com. This trend was born out of the Maker Movement, a cultural innovation that has given consumers freedom from manufacturing through personal fabrication.
This DIY mentality is sweeping the marketplace, with platforms like Pinterest perpetuating the know-how for everyone to create the things they want and events like Maker Faire empowering users to cultivate a more hands-on approach to the products they use. This mentality has surpassed the individual level and seeped into the corporate world, establishing an expectation among consumers that companies will respond to the changes people want in their products, as vocalized through the many social media platforms available today.
Ultimately this trend allows people to rely on themselves to get the things they need, creating a personalized Econo-Me for anyone who is interested. With access to information and sharing becoming a cultural necessity, it is no surprise that people are quickly learning how to literally make the products that are important to them rather than relying on commercial manufacturing. As this consumer landscape shifts, the corporate landscape must shift as well: the organizations that recognize this and make the crowd part of their business models will end up being successful, and everyone will be better off for it.