No, this isn’t a tribute to John Lennon. Though I guess it’s a tribute to the power we possess as customers in today’s world of the internet, and particularly of Web 2.0. It is indisputable that the internet has provided a new avenue to voice our needs and concerns as customers, and there are many instances of where we have regained power from big corporations, by forming our own communities and having our say. As we look to use the internet in new ways, it’s almost as if we’re tacitly sending messages to the corporate world:
Don’t take away things we love – we will rebel
“Chuck” was a new TV series in the US which was literally chucked by media giant NBC after dismal viewing figures. However, it quickly gained a cult-like status among certain fans who blogged and tweeted till they got it back. They even promoted buying a footlong from Subway (who does product placement in Chuck) to show their support. A similar story with Wispa, from the beloved British brand Cadbury’s, whose fans used Facebook, My Space, Bebo and YouTube to campaign, eventually bringing the bubbly chocolate bar back to our shelves. Not bad considering the bar was first launched in 1981, likely before many of the campaigners were born.
We love a good bargain
Not merely a sign of the economic crisis, you can’t deny that fuzzy, warm feeling inside when you get something at a great price. Groupon features fantastic deals every day in cities across the US. But users can only get the deal, e.g. free $30 restaurant vouchers, or $5 cinema tickets, if enough people sign up. Result? We customers get all warm and fuzzy, and the business gets great publicity. Quidco in the UK is a great cash-back website – you buy from various online retailers and as long as you go via Quidco, you get a % off the total cost or cash back once the transaction has been confirmed. I did this when switching utility suppliers in my old flat and did pretty well out of it, and plan on doing it again very soon.
We demand (and supply) innovation
Well, I say innovation, but I quite like the idea of awesomeness, the 21st century version according to Umair Haque. Nike do this pretty well, engaging customers in exciting ways, like the time they used a Times Square billboard to enable people to create their own trainers, right there and then. A bride and groom turned into celebrities overnight in the US by simply doing a cool dance down the aisle (if you are one of the 32m+ people who haven’t seen this on YouTube, you really should.) After appearing on various TV news shows, they now have their very own website, using the theme of the song to raise money for charity. Awesome.
So, after decades of big brands and corporate power, are we doing a U-turn, and going back to empowering our communities (albeit virtually, not physically)? Is the power really going to the people? Maybe Lennon was making some sense back then, “Imagine all the people, living for today…Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do… Imagine all the people, sharing all the world…You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you join us, and the world will be as one…”