Report on Viral Marketing
The Emerging Cyber Consumer
Technology changes people. Digital technology is changing the way consumers relate to products and markets. It is not just our computers that are being reprogrammed; it is customers themselves. These emerging "cyber consumers" are like an alien race that has landed in the midst of our markets. They have different expectations and different relationships with companies from which they purchase products and services. The cyber consumer, as portrayed in Exhibit 1, clearly illustrates the need for new marketing approaches to meet their changing needs.
These cyber consumers expect to be able to customize everything - from the products and services they buy the information they seek to the price they are willing to pay. They expect to get what they want, when they want it, 24 hours a day seven days a week. Most importantly, many of these are no longer content to be passive recipients of marketing messages. They want an active role. They want to be able to engage the producer in the kind of tussle that used to characterize the street bazaar. Only now this ad hoc and localized activity has become universal, free flowing and non-stop on a global scale.
These cyber consumers are more knowledgeable and more demanding than any consumer of the past is. Digital technology has not only opened new channels for selling products. It provides the consumer with unimaginable quantity and quality of information in an easily accessible form. Consumers can sort products based on any desired attribute, price, nutritional value, functionality, etc....or combination of attributes such as price value. It can easily obtain 3rd party endorsements and evaluations including tapping the experience of other users. It has truly put the customer in charge. This has created a fundamental shift in the dynamics of marketing. Empowered by the technology, customers are unforgiving. Pity the poor company that fails to see this or refuses to play by their rules.
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