Complementing the Old with the New
Companies conventionally have had more control over value-creation processes, their marketing-mix elements, in physical markets. However, the advent of the Internet has seen a power shift in these processes. This section discusses the transformation in each marketing-mix element.
Product: At the beginning of the Internet revolution, marketers underestimated the rising importance of customization and wrongly assumed that marketer-generated value systems fit each segment’s needs. However, the traditional assumption that all the segments were homogeneous was, in fact, often incorrect when assessing the needs and expectations of the individual online consumer. Today, each individual consumer requires individualized/customized products and services from a variety of companies. Thus, in order to satisfy individual consumer demand, companies attempt to successfully brand their online destinations (website or domain name) in order to pull consumers to their website or, alternatively, make their website easy to find on the Internet. Now, through the Internet, consumers can easily access market and product information at any time from anywhere3 and change the direction of consumption in the blink of an eye. Consumers have become far more actively connected and involved in their communications with markets about products and services, and have thus started to act as co-producers or equal partners of products/brands/contents rather than as passive acceptors of company-created (in some cases dictated) value.4 Now, companies need consumers more than ever before in order to develop new products, services, contents, and brands. Many companies are now getting more help from consumers by communicating with them in their native habitat of online communities (this is known as crowd sourcing).5 Finally, some products are simply not created for the Internet. For example, although some fashion companies (e.g. ASOS in the UK) have successfully started selling online, particularly targeting “tweens” and “generation Ys” on the Internet, the success of some other apparel companies is still not clear. Not every computer monitor is “color and size true,” causing consumer dissatisfaction if the actual color or size of the product does not match the one displayed on the screen,6 and companies need to develop the right strategies to eliminate or avoid such problems.
As a result, today we are at the tipping point of the consumer-driven economy rather than the traditional product-driven economy. Companies need to analyze constantly changing consumer trends and the way consumers connect, communicate, and interact with each other and markets in order to understand the impacts of this consumer-driven economy on product and brand successes.