The Customer Was King, and We All Seemed To Know It


Share on LinkedIn

According to the fifth annual PRWeek/Manning Selvage & Lee Marketing Management Survey, polling 279 U.S. Chief Marketing Officers, Vice Presidents of marketing, and Marketing Directors and managers, and focussing on new media/CGM, integrated marketing and industry ethics, only about 12% respondents had CGM on their mind when considering marketing platforms.

Now why is this so?
CGM or consumer generated media is gaining importance as the newly empowered consumer finds himself with a voice to express his opinions and post purchase emotions.

Organisations on one hand have a set of satisfied customers generating content about their positive experiences and influencing product adoptions by their friends and relatives, and on the other hand have to contend with unhappy customers sharing their woes with the threat of doing so in a technologically empowered digital environment capable of replicating the thoughts umpteen times, as people take to reading each others creations and linking to them.

As per the ADAGE article on the above subject, reasons for non-adoption of CGM as a promotion tool by several organisations stems from-

1. Fear of empowering a consumer to the point of no control.
2. No clear ROI on the subject yet.
However, the cost-effectiveness of this media over traditional media is bound to eventually let it get into vogue sooner or later.

Agreed that organisations are wary of embracing a medium where the echo of the consumer voice may be uncontrollable, but in an era where marketers are talking about
Customer Relationship Management
-Customer Lifetime Values
-Increasing customer shares rather than market share
-Product Customisation
-Customer data warehousing and datamining and
-Using customers as brand evangelists,

will it not be contradictory to keep the consumer voice muffled?…After all, the consumer was the king…and we all seemed to know it.

Also blogging at Marketology-Emerging Trends

Vandana Ahuja, PhD.
Amity Business School
Dr. Vandana Ahuja has over 21 years of experience across the corporate sector and academia. She is the author of the book on Digital Marketing - published by Oxford University Press. She is a Professor with Amity Business School and has several years of research experience across the domains of Digital Marketing, CRM and Social Media Marketing. She is an expert in the usage of Digital and Social Media platforms across diverse industry verticals.


  1. You are touching on an issue that marketing cannot ignore without great peril.

    It is not just that customers want to voice their opinion—other customers are listening to them. The whole concept of search and content rich media lets the best potential customers use these tools to make better informed decisions. They are the best potential customers because they are ready and eager to buy. Sure, the information on the Internet is not vetted but customers a getting good at judging the quality of the information. Moreover, other customers tend to put the value proposition into a framework that is meaningful to other customers. In contrast, marketing messages are increasingly seen as hype that promotes a one-sided agenda.

    John I. Todor, Ph.D., author of Addicted Customers: How to Get Them Hooked on Your Company (

  2. Vandana

    Great post. And a great blog of your own too.

    I think that many of the advertisers have rather missed the point.

    As everybody knows, both Time magazine and Advertising Age had the Customer as respectively, the Person of the Year and the Agency of the Year. Numerous studies show that what friends, family and other influencers say about products is the No1 source of information for customers.

    Customer WOM is increasingly THE communications channel that controls how the real brand is perceived. The advertiser communicated faux brand comes in a poor second.

    CGM is but one way to engage customers in co-created marketing. It is rightly perceived by marketers as a threat to the control that they want over their brands. (See James Cherkoff’s post on Lego Factory for a great example). But the reality is that many marketers have already lost control over the very same brands. Customers are now in charge. And marketers can do very little about it.

    Graham Hill


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here