WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT TODAY’S CONSUMER?

Four important truths:

1) Today’s consumer is both as receptive and as resilient to influence as ever.
The digital age gives everyone instant access to the same information. News isn’t new for long. But when everyone can see the same thing at the same time, it’s easy to feel like one of the masses.

On a human level, that connectedness is comforting. But for the consumer, it sets off a defense mechanism that seeks a balance between belonging and individuality. So what is the key ingredient to capturing the consumer’s interest and love? Discovery.

When the consumer finds you, you’re both made more special – you for being the discovery and the consumer for being the discoverer. And that bodes well for you and your brand. Because more than ever, she strongly influences other consumers.

2) Today’s consumer is not just in search of community; she has the ability to start her own.
Since the advent of the Internet, there’s been a lot of talk about community as if it were a new dynamic. But ever since humans discovered other humans existed, they’ve sought community. Our need for community is no stronger than it was 100 years ago.

However, it is fair to say that today’s communities are more dynamic. As is today’s consumer’s ability to start and shape them.

She wants to discover an idea, adopt it, and then share it with friends. Soon, that community’s sphere of influence grows. Others are drawn to its energy. Meaning that sense of discovery and adoption can happen on a large scale.

However, you can know all this and still fail in execution. So it’s important to know how the consumer’s tastes are changing.

3) Today’s consumer is either an extreme spectator or an extreme participant.
Everything now is a spectator sport: Politics. Finance. Cooking. The love lives of celebrities.

We watch, identify and then cheer or jeer for the participants with a passion heretofore reserved for professional steroid users. We want so badly to be fans of something or someone, we make idols out of unknowns. And we love to take sides. We’re either blue state or red state. Sox or Cubs. Angelina or Jennifer.

And if we’re not making stars of others, we’re proudly making jackasses of ourselves. If we’re not trying to stay on the island, we’re voting to kick someone else off. But even for those who have no interest in doing a half-pipe or eating a cockroach, there is a desire and a means to participate. To create the culture others are consuming.

4) Today’s consumer is not only a receiver of content and messages but also a provider.
The digital age has empowered nearly everyone to be creative. To upload, download, write, film, edit, animate, photograph and then post everything about themselves, giving them a completely new perspective and definition of effective communication.

And since they are not bound by rules, conventions, formats, committees, censors or critics, their creations feel organic. They reflect passion, originality and a unique voice. Traits we all admire, and seek in others.

Those traits, however, are often missing in mass communication, which suddenly looks conspicuously phony and flat-footed.

No longer can marketers create for a consumer. They must create like a consumer.

Sticky creates ideas around which consumers can find and build community.