The term “Marketing” might be coined in the dawn of 20th century but the idea was prevalent since thousands of years. Similarly customers are also not a recent phenomenon; they would have been active since the first transaction was made. In the past century the realm of marketing had undergone constant evolution as a discipline. In the initial days marketing was a push concept where there was a constant tendency on the parts of the firms to push their products/services to the customers. In 1953 with “Neil Borden” coining the term “Marketing Mix” (4ps of marketing that is product, price, people & promotion) marketing took a leap as a discipline. In 60’s Theodore Levitt came up with the theory of “Marketing Myopia” that for the first time attempted to consider seriously the customer factor in marketing. In the coming years the significance of customers kept on increasing in formulation of marketing strategy by individual firms, 4Ps of marketing got transformed to the 4Cs (Consumer, Cost, Convenience, Communication).In the 21st century with computers and internets penetrating to individual households coupled with a plethora of popular Websites, Social networking sites, E-portals, Online communities etc the realm of marketing is undergoing a new paradigm shift. Now the customer is not only the central focus of the marketing strategy but is also the most active player of the branding exercise conducted by individual firms.
The new age customer1
The new age customer is very different from his/her previous counterparts. He is much more intelligent, confident and has much more understanding of various kinds of products & brands. A stereotypical new age customer 1can be assumed to be exposed to end number of media channels, is much more tech savvy and internet friendly. It can be assumed that the new age customer has a high sense of individuality and in this age consumerism buying for him/her is a very high involvement, fun driven process. There are across 1.96 Billion internet users 2 across the world. 90% of the internet users know at least one social media and every social media user is connected to 195 friends on an average3.There are 133 million blogs enlisted in the blog directory “Techorati”4.These facts explain the power and influence of the new age consumers. The probabilities are always high that a new age consumer is also an author with his own blog he uses to reflect his view points. He might also be a thought leader with his own friend circle in the social media sphere he can influence, a critic using these media platforms to criticize a product he doesn’t like and a brand ambassador using positive word of mouth in such social media platforms for something he likes. The strengths and skills that have been acquired by the new age customers cannot be discounted by marketers. These customers need to be involved actively in the branding processes.
American Marketing association(AMA) defines a brand as a "name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers. In reality brand is much beyond that, brand resides within the hearts and minds of customers, clients, and prospects. It is the sum total of their experiences and perceptions, some of which you can influence, and some that you cannot. These days with the help of Websites, E-manuals, E-brochures, Multimedia presentations, Clickable add banners interactivity between the customers and the firm increases many fold. While the customer gets a better brand experience the firm understands the behavior, interest and tastes of the customer in a better way. These interactive tools can also provide a good insight into the customer’s geographic location as well as demographic profiles.
Note:- ( New age customer means well off customers from the developed and developing nation.
2. Source: www.internetworldstats.com
3. Source: Online Media Gazette.