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Consumer Control

Old model: Company creates product, ad agency develops promotional message, media outlet broadcasts message, consumers buy.
New model: Consumers cocreate products (e.g., MyStarbucksIdea), consumers cocreate ads and distribute them on social networks, consumers tweet, consumers blog, consumers write online reviews.

“And thus,” says Associate Professor of Marketing Frédéric Brunel, “consumers are not just consumers of products, but they are becoming marketers of these products and services.” Brunel calls this phenomenon “consumer-mediated marketing,” and he expects the trend to grow.

Associate Professor of Marketing Barbara Bickart agrees: “Consumers will become increasingly sophisticated in their roles as influencers and tastemakers,” she says. Platforms that allow for peer recommendations will become even more popular and will be increasingly available at the time of decision-making. Marketers, she adds, have a lot to learn about operating in this new environment, where they have limited control.