Times Online (UK): Cleggmania could change the world’s elections by Mark Penn

Cleggmania could change the world’s elections
If it can happen in traditional old Britain, consumer power can take root anywhere

Published May 3, 2010

It used to be the case that UK campaigns were thought to follow the US lead closely: Clinton’s War Room in 1992 became Blair’s Millbank in 1997; Bush’s Compassionate Conservatism in 2000 became Hague’s in 2001.

For the rise of Nick Clegg, however, there is no US antecedent. Whatever the hype surrounding Mr Clegg, he is no Obama — but nor is he a maverick like Ross Perot. The growth of a third choice in this election provides an interesting wake-up call for the two establishment parties in the UK, but it also offers a warning to the Democrats and Republicans of what they may face in the future.

On both sides of the Atlantic, in the world outside politics, consumers have become hugely more empowered over the past two decades through greater choice, information and control. Step into a Starbucks today and you can choose from 155 different types of coffee. TV programmes need not be watched when they are broadcast — instead they can be saved to Sky Plus or streamed from iPlayer to be watched when it suits you. Gone are the days when you relied on a salesman’s advice; today it is rare for anyone to buy anything without first reading multiple consumer reviews online and searching the net for the best deal.

Unsurprisingly, consumers who are used to a significant level of choice and control in their everyday lives are increasingly demanding the same in the political realm, where change has been at best ignored and at worst opposed.

Read Full Article

Business Week: Pinning Down the New American Shopper by Mark Penn

Business Week

Pinning Down the New American Shopper
It’s about information, value, and being green: Today’s discriminating consumers are careful about how they spend, and they’re concerned about the planet

By Mark Penn and E. Kinney Zalesne

The consumer that marketers have had a lot of fun selling to over the last few decades is disappearing. Those were the days—when a snappy jingle did the trick, a celebrity carried the day, and a higher price signaled higher quality.

The old obsession with personality, emotion, and overarching experience is giving way to the green eyeshades of facts, research, and greater rationality. Not all consumers are changing, but enough are to start altering the way we market to and treat consumers. Originality and zaniness will still have their place, but marketers will have to deliver some cold, hard messages at the same time.

Read Full Article

iMedia Connection: Reach Consumers Who Friend Before They Spend (Microtrends)

iMedia Connection

Reach Consumers Who Friend Before They Spend
Ever scoured the web for information about a brand of shampoo you’ve been considering using? Did customer reviews on Overstock or Amazon play a role in any of the purchases you made this past holiday season? Have you “Googled” a date’s name before, or after, going out with them? You may be a New Info Shopper if… (read doing your best Jeff Foxworthy) you answered yes to any of these questions. And, according to a recent online Wall Street Journal article, advertisers and marketers looking to improve their bottom line may want to start paying closer attention to the way you and your fellow NISs operate.

Finding, then seeing, is believing
E. Kinney Zalesne, who co-authored the WSJ.com article, along with the book Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes with Mark J. Penn, contends that this new breed of consumer primarily trusts information it finds on its own — not necessarily what you provide in your outreach. The Microtrends shopper’s survey conducted for the January 8 article found that 92 percent of those surveyed believed information they got on their own over information they got from a salesperson or clerk. And 78 percent of the respondents felt television ads don’t contain enough information to make a purchase decision.

“That’s really a profound shift in attitudes towards shopping,” says Zalesne, who attributes at least some of this shift to a decrease in the power of branding. “I think part of what we’re seeing in the New Info Shopper is that people are not as willing to rely on brand. And they’re not as willing to assume that a fancy name, or a popular name, will be the right product for them.”

Read Full Article