I heard a very interesting quote recently, attributed to Rishad Tobaccowala

When consumers hear about a product today, their first reaction is ‘Let me search online for it.’ And so they go on a journey of discovery: about a product, a service, an issue, an opportunity. Today you are not behind your competition. You are not behind the technology. You are behind your consumer.

That reminded of the title of a post last month from Mitch Joel – “The Ever-Evolving Consumer Evolves (Again)“, in which he talks about how consumers are now more advanced than marketers in terms of technology and how they communicate. Quite agree in general, though it varies with geography, kind of demographic and so on.

Simplistically put, word of mouth with a technology assist. You'd say that every 'social media' presentation has a version of it, and I'd have to agree. But the interesting part is how brands react. For the purpose of this post, let me give you a contemporary tool based example.

Within a few days of the launch of Google +, a few brands jumped on to the wagon. They weren't just content sites, but regular brands. Only to be told by Google to lay off until they were officially allowed to. Were the brands behind the con

sumers in this case? Or technology tool? Not. But even if they were allowed to operate in Plus, would that guarantee a success story? Not necessarily. That's probably because many a time, when brands (and brand managers) get to know about technology, they choose the easy way out. Order the agency to create a page/handle/group and get x number of fans/friends/followers, post some content to 'tick' engagement and then wait for the next shiny object. The harder way is to understand why people are active on the social platforms and the networks that are created within. In this context, relationship and trust. Something that brands lost when they made full use of the fact that traditional media didn't allow consumers to talk back.

Mitch Joel is right when he says that brands finally found an answer to the first coming of the web. They answered the 'why' reasonably well – information, and built websites. But with an explosion in platforms and interactivity, the answers this time around aren't that simple. Having a touch point at every new internet nation state is a great thing, but if brands look at the new shiny technology/service through the prism of why users are flocking to it, and go through the data – information – knowledge – wisdom path to figure out if/how they can use the technology/service to anticipate and meet consumer needs, they might be evolving a better and scalable strategy for the days ahead.

until next time, to corrupt a cricket line, platform is temporary, class is permanent 😉