Welcome to the Participation Era.

As I watch numerous commercials, online or otherwise… I ask myself, “will I buy this brand because of this advertisement?” my answer is “No, not at all”. I believe advertising is mere a tool to create awareness or in some cases, generate interest about a particular brand of product or service.

As we entered the digital age, brands are not solely build by messaging or advertising, but by their behavior with the consumers. The most important thing today is not about what brand says, but it’s about ‘what brand does’ & how consistently it does. For a brand manager, integrating the brand with the product benefits is not enough… I’d say, it will be a recipe of disaster.

A brand manager has to think about the right mixture of integration between Brand-Product-Consumer.

Of all the above mentioned components of integration, ‘Consumer’ is the most important component. A brand has to seek ways to connect with the people and start a conversation, a conversation that is engaging & relevant enough for people to share among their communities.  Create a platform for participation, co-create with your consumers. I strongly feel that, a consumer has to be seen as a co-owner &  the key to success is to listen to the consumers & act accordingly.

First brand that comes to my mind is Starbucks! It’s a perfect example of a a brand adapting to the new digital revolution. The brand launched MyStarbucksIdea.com, an online platform for suggestion and virtual community to involve the brand followers. Many initiatives that Starbucks has launched have come from consumer’s mind. When a brand actually acts on consumer’s preference, a sense of belonging is created in the minds of consumer & this can be on of the core things that will turn a consumer into an advocate.

The Participation Era has arrived & the only way to survive  is to embrace ‘consumer’ as an integral part of marketing process. This is the era that demands ‘actions’ more than ‘advertising’  & ‘ brand experience’ more than just ‘product features’. The question we have to ask ourself is, “am I ready for the Participation Era?”

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