Short PR Takes: On Radical Consumerism, Reaction and Influence

Beyond the digital hype you hear there’s a radical new consumerism shaking out businesses, shaping all our realities as in a universal theme. Going back is just not an option. 

Consumerism now

URBAN CONSUMERISM – An interpretation of the visual language and idiosyncrasies of everyday, consumer society manifested through ‘signs’ and ‘street furniture’. 

Lately I’ve been re-introduced to ideas and synergies which, when carefully examined, herald a long lost web world fantasyland known as Web 3.0. That long ago concept popularized by Tim O’Reilly and O’Reilly Media back in 2004, Web 2.0 hearkened the world to concepts and ideas my generation only fantasized about after a episode of the 60’s TV series Star Trek. Technology impacting everyday life on Earth as it does now, was for decades the stuff of Hollywood. Then, the natural progression of thought led us to wonder if (or when) Google or Facebook, or O’Reilly himself, might lead us into a version 3.0 promised land.

Well, even though the Godfather of the web, Tim Berners-Lee once proclaimed the so-called “semantic web” a “part” of this third version, somehow we as digital users and evangelists just “skipped” past the version break out party. Excuse my metaphors, I just love them, that is all. So, for those who would attempt to completely automate, either on the corporate or individual level (and you feel them every day if you are in marketing), here’s a lesson from the ingenious Carl Jung that applies to the new consumerism out there:

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.” – Carl Jung –

To go forward though, while definitions for Web 3.0 or the “semantic web” vary vastly from component labels like Resource Description Frameworks, “Turtle language”, the Semantic Web Stack, and down to standardization, the real identity of Web 3.0 is probably just mobile. You know, the web up there you carry with you.

Dell think tank.

Customer Service Think Tank hosted by Dell 

Now that Web 3.0 is out of the way, what we experience now in short form over our smart devices is the gateway past numbering conventions. The C Web (Consumer Web or Connected ?) may be more appropriate for what’s next in symbolizing what is known as radical consumerism. Brian Solis, the Principal Analyst for Altimeter Group uses Generation C to describe an ultra powerful and rapidly growing segment of connected people. Right here we have to recognize, it really is people who power our business, social, and even academic world.

Steve Blank at DEMO-Mobile-2013 - courtesy The DEMO Conference

Steve Blank at DEMO-Mobile-2013 

But what’s really important for you reading this is, What does all Gen C mean for you personally or as a business?” The answers are deceivingly simple, on the one hand. As a consumer it means your experience as such will become far more interesting in the years to come, and valuable too. The same holds true if you operate a business too, that is for those businesses that can adapt rapidly to change. I quote from Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur Steve Blank (pictured above):

“…To assure their survival and produce satisfying growth, corporations need toinvent new business models. This challenge requires entirely new organizational structures and skills…”

That paradigm shift every marketing guru on Twitter has piped up about with unending frequency? It’s already here. Like it or not, you are going to have to Tweet! Yes, those 140 characters of seeming nonsense – your consumers just expect their answers there.

Brian Solis addresses decision makers and media in London this month - courtesy Benjamin Ellis

Brian Solis addresses decision makers and media in London this month 

Once again turning to Solis, his latest book What’s the Future of Business reverberates with concepts which are not new, bt which the author skillfully portrays where we are and probably where we are headed too – together. While you might not consider your radical consumerist tendencies a “hero’s journey”, as Solis does insinuate, the monomyth theories therein are really recurring valid concepts brought forward by such as Joseph Campbell and others. Yes, you C Web is made up of intricacies just so well rooted in theories of human consciousness as to bring Campbell into the discussion.

To sum up this little primer, Reaction and Influence in the title may have been perceived as relating to crisis management (crisis PR reaction) and influence, where celebrity influences the mass of consumers. However, this is pretty far from the truth I am pointing to, actually. On the consumer side empowerment need not be illustrate further here. As for a successful business dynamic, the following answers are fundamental in my view:

  1. Have you accepted the new role of your customer as an advocate?
  2. Can you accept customer “experience” once again, as the metric that best drives your success?
  3. Are you willing to invest in your business’ wide social network?
  4. Do you see your customers as co-creators of new business for you?
  5. Are you fully willing to share values with your customers and society?
  6. Can you adopt learning and reacting to changes as you new business dogma?
Samsung Tomorrow

There are 4 billion smart devices out there. Who do you think you are talking to? 

Of course there are a dozen equally important hurdles to transform into advantage here. But it is important to begin someplace. What I’m suggesting is simply that your ideas of business as usual, they probably won’t apply much longer. And speaking of the future of PR, a very smart man told me over the phone yesterday; “No one should care what we call it, public relations or whatever, the future of communications is whatever works.” Let me leave you with insight on what people want from the aforementioned scholar Joseph Campbell:

“I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.”

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