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Consumer empowerment in 2012

Posted on: Thursday 5th of January 2012

So what trends will take shape in 2012 as the control shift continues in this era of consumer empowerment?

Consumers will continue to assert their ‘voice’ harnessing social media to organise themselves and share information. This level of active participation as people engage more vocally with organisations and each other is likely to grow and increase in momentum.

Using technology people will connect and collaborate in new ways causing disruption to established order. People’s shopping habits will continue the trend from ‘bricks’ to better-informed ‘clicks’. Consumers will be more active and demanding in their relationships with businesses; ‘I like this’ or ‘that’s rubbish’ generalities will be replaced by exacting individual requirements of ‘this is what I want, when and how’, and they will volunteer the necessary supporting personal information to enable this. Successful organisations will respond, embrace and empower customers to engage with them in this way enabling innovation and driving operational and business efficiencies.

With the Government actively pushing a ‘collective purchasing’ agenda as part of its consumer empowerment strategy we’ll see many more initiatives to help individuals use the internet to leverage their aggregate demand more effectively, although progress may not be as fast as some hope for. There will be new incarnations of social collective power and peer to peer market places will evolve and grow.

Financial pressures will incentivise people to use tools and decision-making services including price comparison sites such as MoneySupermarket, GoCompare and Confused.com which are all broadening their offers in response to this demand. New advice giving Personal Information Management Services will emerge (to read our report on the developing PIMS market click here) and financial decision-making services such as Moneydashboard.com will increase in popularity.

Managing personal reputation, privacy and identity will gain even greater prominence as people conduct their lives online, with organisations including Reputation.com (which enables users to manage their online reputation and recently raised funding) and personal data lockers Singly and Personal gaining traction. There will be more understanding and acceptance that management and sharing of personal data under the individual’s control unlocks considerable benefits for everyone.

With the forthcoming publication of the revised EU Data Protection Act important questions about data protection rules and the rights of data owners and controllers will be debated. Also the privacy debate, as an article published this week in emarketer suggests, will ‘heat up’ in 2012 when the revised EU Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive comes into force in the UK in May.

This is a long list of predictions but I doubt it’s comprehensive. I suspect when we come to review 2012 many more milestones in the control shift will have been achieved. To read our review of the milestones in 2011 click here.