The Paradox of Consumer Connectivity

To say that consumers have never been more connected is a statement so obvious that it needs no fusillade of facts to defend the point. Similarly, no barrage of stats are needed to convince a marketer that consumers have never been more difficult to connect with.  This "paradox of connectedness" defines just one modern marketing challenge.

The things brand marketers must achieve ("objectives") have not changed. "Grow share," "increase sales," and "launch a new product" remain the fixed stars marketers must know how to reach in order to succeed.  However the choices they have ("strategies") to navigate are so plentiful that they obscure a clear way forward.   

Indeed, if you're a marketer with a desire to experiment, these choices make what you do exciting and interesting. Today's pace of innovation adds more and brighter lights to an already dazzling skyline.  But if you're marketer with a desire to achieve success, all those shiny new ideas can also seem more like light pollution obscuring the stars making them more difficult to see and more difficult to reach.

But even the most disciplined and confident marketer wonders if that focus risks losing opportunity because consumers are just as excited (and distracted) by the shiny pennies. And why shouldn't they be?  Every day, new experiences and device capabilities make magical things happen. (Augmented Reality, anybody?)  

This creates another paralyzing paradox for markers to overcome: Brands trying to co-exist with consumers in these environments sometimes feel the need to be nearly invisible out of fear of alienating people. Ironically, brands have this fear even though it's typically their dollars keeping the lights on and attracting audiences

Good news: Resolving these paradoxes is as easy as ignoring them.  

Consumers will connect with brands when brands abandon the language of "transactions" (coupons, rebates, buy one-get one, etc...) and embrace the language "experiences."  Brands need to be attentive and committed to delivering the things that bring a smile and provide that personalized, little something extra.  When brands show genuine appreciation, consumers will carry them forward.  Sometimes, just saying "thank you" when "thank you" is the right thing to say can work wonders.

Paradox resolved.


Tom Daly
Former Senior Group Director, Global Marketing at The Coca-Cola Company