In this new world of economic constraint, the consumer must have a say. No longer is it appropriate to only have the right price for the right product at the right time with the right promotion.  It is no longer acceptable to pile it high and sell it cheap. Squeezing the supply chain has a long-term effect on quality and product reliability.

Having the right relationship with your consumer allows the supplier to own the responsibility for the desired outcome.  But owning the relationship comes at a price. The brand has to have the trust of the consumer. The trusted brand from the trusted advisor allows the shopper to work with the consumer, as value transparency becomes a new requirement.

The Web

The consumer expects any business to have a fully developed, simple to use e-tailing experience that protects the consumer and delivers to the home transparently.

The internet is here to stay.  The days of the technology gold rush is over.  What excites investors today is interactive audience websites that deliver reach or goods but preferably both. The web is now part of the customer experience. The consumer sees the internet as just another way to get what they want.  They expect security, experience integrity and availability.  The consumer does not want technology versatility the consumer does want instant access.  If the consumer can’t get to where they are going  within three clicks, you have lost your audience and any potential revenue they may have spent with you

Innovation

In general, research is emerging that the consumer is ‘innovated out’.  Any new innovation needs to work much harder to get the consumer dollar. This, in turn, puts pressure on the success of the new product at launch.  A new product needs to prove capability at a price that has already absorbed the technology and marketing development.

This consumer demand challenges business’s to research market and consumer experience in greater detail prior to product release.  There are exceptions to this development if the new product can be endorsed by trusted celebrities or gains a cache of a must-have status.  The iPod is an example of this phenomenon.

Access

Target demographics can help suppliers understand where their customers buy and plan how they can meet that demand. In the same way that products are transactional the same can be said for customers.  But it is important not to confuse the transactional behaviour of a consumer in one environment with the behaviour in another environment. A transactional consumer in one environment will require personal advice in another.

Engagement

How you engage with your customer today is more important than at any other time in consumer history.  There is no ‘one size fits all, in today’s consumer world and how companies support the customer post-purchase decision will determine how business’s resource in the medium term.

Consumers want to be empowered to ‘talk to the business’ when they want to.  The consumer wants to feel in control of the communication process and the supplier has to make the communication experience or touch point as transparent as possible.

The balance between managed communication process and technology needs to be closely examined to allow ownership and control by the consumer.  There is a trend for an over-reliance on the web to answer some of the passive processes, but this assumes that the consumer has instant access to the internet at the right time.  A blend of telephone number, web and high street outlet is proving the most effective for FMCG goods.  Financial services are moving away from the branch network toward automated tellers in the local bank foyer.

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