Marketers: Meet the New Consumer
Freelance Creative Gabe Chouinard is a consumer. Not just any consumer but a new consumer and he wants marketers to know this. As part of our random and completely irregular guest columnist series, Gabe authored a piece entitled "I Am the New Consumer" in which he summarizes many of the points we have made here over the years. Things are different. People are in control. Marketers and not. Things must change. Marketers must listen.
While change doesn't happen overnight nor should it, the tidal wave is approaching and every one of us ought to accept it and be prepared for that shift. In his article, Gabe mentions the pointlessly idiotic Flashturbation (our words) most marketers engage in when creating their facade on the web. Wouldn't it make more sense if the focus of a brand's external image actually included a free flowing, ever-changing conversation made up of people's comments and opinions of the brand and the company's reaction/response to those comments? That would certainly fair far batter than arriving at a site that's just a pretty picture and mindless marketing blather. Yes companies have blogs which help serve a conversational purpose but currently, they are off on their own and, for the most part, not an integral part of the company's face. That should change.
Additionally, while we would certainly hate to see all those sex-laced ads disappear, we know in our heart they really don't work and, while they do attract attention and cause reaction, it's not necessarily the desired reaction as Gabe write, "You still think showing me pictures of pretty girls wearing pretty clothes is going to make me buy a watch, or a bottle of beer, or a new pair of pants. You have never been so wrong. I'll look at the pretty girls, I promise. But when I'm done, I'm going to go and search for the pretty girl in your ad, not the product you're selling."
Enough from us. Gabe's article in its entirety follows:
Dear Advertising Industry,
I am the new consumer, and you are wasting my time.
You've been wasting my time for many years now, and I've finally gotten tired of it; so tired that the time has come to introduce myself to you, because it is clear you have no idea who I am.
Therefore, I'd like to take a few minutes to set you straight.
I don't care about you. At all.
Occasionally, you may amuse me with your clever commercials. Once, I remember pausing at a particularly beautifully-shot magazine ad...
though I can't tell you which one it was, because every day I'm bombarded by beautifully-shot magazine ads, and they've all become a blur of nothingness. And that's the reality of it for you, right there in a cozy little nutshell: advertising is just one big blur of nothingness.
Your response has been at once predictable and utterly mystifying. You believe that shoving more and more advertising at me is going to make me sit up and take notice. It's such a flawed methodology that I can't help believing you are all out-of-touch dunderheads waving your arms in a hysterical frenzy of ignorance. Just who are you targeting with your ad-heaped-upon-ad approach? Surely not me, because I gave up paying attention a long time ago. I have far too many other diversions to capture my attention.
I am the new consumer. Ten minutes of searching on the web taught me more about the product you're flogging than entire campaigns you've created over a ten-year span. Did I spend those ten minutes combing through your minutely-designed interactive Flash website? Dream on. I went to the source: the people that have already used your product, and have something to say about it. And the really real kicker? It wasn't your ads that introduced me to the product in the first place!
Someone on a blog mentioned using it, and since she and I share a lot of likes and dislikes, I figured I'd check it out.
You people make no sense to me. Are you really that entrenched, that disconnected from reality? How do you manage to convince companies that they need you and your idiotic, pointless, instantly disposable ads? If you're so elite, so godawfully cool, how is it you've managed to drift so far from the cutting edge of culture? Is it possible that you're pretty much the animated corpse of years past? A ghost of 1950, come to haunt the people of the present?
I am the new consumer. I only buy the things that matter to me, the products that speak to me. Do you want my business? I believe you do not. If you did, you would come searching for me - and you would find me. In this hyper-connected world, there is absolutely no excuse for the inability to discover and ferret out people like me, the new consumers. What excuses do you offer for failing? If I can find you when I want to, why can't you find me when you want to?
It is my opinion that you have become meaningless in today's cultural climate. You, the advertising industry, are a dinosaur past your time on earth.
Not only are you meaningless, you're far too cocky for your own good.
You waste my time, yes; but that isn't so horrible by itself. Lots of things waste my time. I waste my own time... but I do it on my own terms, because I enjoy wasting my time, and I waste my time by doing the things I like to do. On the other hand, you waste my time... and in the process, you treat me like an idiot, which only goes to show just how out of touch you really are.
I guess I'll be the one to announce it. I am far from the mindless sheep you expect me to be. I am savvy. Sophisticated. Networked. I know more about what I want than you do, and your attempts to force-feed me crap do not work. No ad you create is going to sway my opinion. I might chuckle; odds are, I won't pay any attention. Do you want to know a secret? If I'm not TiVo-ing, I'm muting when the commercials come on. And I'm not watching much TV anyway, you'll notice. There are far too many other interests for me to pursue, and television is just a mindless exercise in winding down before I go to bed. Emphasis on the mindless; I am divorced from television, and don't really care about those ads.
You don't provide me with anything. Your advertising may as well be a void to me. Do I come to you, asking about the products you're hawking? Do you really think I remember the products you hawk in the first place? Please. Give me more credit than that; I am an active consumer, and haven't a bit of passivity left in my pinkie to offer you. Feed me your lines, and I'll just puke them back up, covered in vitriol.
You are out of touch, advertising industry. You show no interest in moving on, of adapting to my needs. That is why you are failing. I am the new consumer, and if you want me, you have to engage with me. You have to come to me, and you have to do it on my terms. I am far more intelligent and informed than you, and I am in control. Until you believe that - until you own that - you are worthless.
You want me to buy things. You tell your clients that you can convince me to buy. You lie to them, and they pay you for your lies.
Products have become extraneous. This is a me-too climate, where everything looks the same and does the same thing. Your response? To promote that mentality by producing even more me-too advertising. You talk of differentiation, but you don't walk the walk. You aren't willing to break out of the me-too mold, and that is why I do not care about you. I am an individual, but you can't grasp the concept of the individual, much less the reality of the individual. When will you learn? "Lifestyle branding"? Puh-leaze. You can't even be bothered to talk to me about my lifestyle, much less provide me with anything I want. You still think showing me pictures of pretty girls wearing pretty clothes is going to make me buy a watch, or a bottle of beer, or a new pair of pants. You have never been so wrong. I'll look at the pretty girls, I promise. But when I'm done, I'm going to go and search for the pretty girl in your ad, not the product you're selling.
Bombarding doesn't work; pushing your products on everyone from trailer homes to multi-million dollar mansions is not effective. You want me? You have to come and get me, and that means a radical shift in the way you do things. Until you can admit that we are a fragmented marketplace, that we are individuals who are only interested in dealing with other individuals who share our interests and likes and dislikes, you are doomed to our hatred.
But have hope. I am the new consumer, and I am forgiving. If you can impress me, in my own arena and on my own terms, I can warm to you.
But my time is precious, and my interest is fleeting. Offering me a cup of air will get you nowhere. I demand substance for my time, and I demand it now. Not tomorrow, when you've gotten around to researching me and pegging my profile. And to make it harder - to make it more interesting - I am not going to be forthcoming with my information.
This has nothing to do with CRM. It has nothing to do with swooshing logos, or spectacular websites.
It is your job to reflect my passions, my ideals, my interests. Gone are the days when you could expect my attention, or at least trap it.
I am the new consumer, and I have become more sophisticated than you ever were. You may pretend to understand me. You may coddle me, tell me I'm beautiful and worthwhile. You may... because I will see through you in an instant, and it really won't matter to me because I will dismiss you just as quickly. Unless your approach is genuine, and genuinely aligned with my approach, you will fail utterly and miserably.
You have to work for my attention, because you know what?
I am the new consumer, and I am in the driver's seat.
Gabe Chouinard is a consumer. His website is http://urban-drift.com