University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Talking to the Empowered Consumer Dealing with the Shift of Power

Oestreicher, Klaus (2009) Talking to the Empowered Consumer Dealing with the Shift of Power. In: 8th International Congress Marketing Trends Paris-Venice, 15 to 17 January 2009, Paris.


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The concept of the empowered consumer cannot be considered as a field of exact scientific
research yet. Nevertheless, it has become part of scholars’ interest and gains more and more
importance in the research of organisational relationships with customers. It is suggested that
two influencing criteria are especially at the forefront: The emergence of the Internet, which
effected that barriers to collect and to disseminate information across boundaries were
decisively reduced. As a consequence consumers could organise globally and collect and
exchange information and experiences about organisations and their products. Furthermore,
flexible interactivity between companies and consumers, but particularly from consumers to
consumers enable direct interaction changing many previously established rules of doing
business. Due to these new opportunities new business models developed and the proposition
is that intangible values such as reputation gained even more importance and influence
tangible outcomes.
Suggestions are that 1.), this concept links communication, corporate behaviour and
legitimacy of activities influencing reputation as a driver of value. 2.), reputation as a
corporate asset can be managed but it is beyond the pure control of an organisation. 3.),
reputation is part of public perception, which an organisation has to build, maintain and
expand depending on communicative abilities and willingness to accept consumers as a centre
of power. The following discussion will present Grunig et al.’s communication model
explaining changed organisational challenges. It is put forward as a framework for marketing
for times in which online opportunities added to the earlier b2b and b2c models c2c and P2P
considerations and architectures.
The annual studies of the market research institute puls undertaking regular representative
research among German consumers since November 2005 will present evidence for the
relationship of improved prices, which may be achieved, and the perception a firm possesses.
This paper deals mostly with German examples and data, but the hypothesis is that a) the
general situation in other Western countries is alike, but needs b) specific additional research,
since cultural differences are expected to have a considerable influence, especially when
criteria such as individualist and collectivist organisation of society and high and low context
communication styles are involved. Hence, the results of the same study in different countries
are therefore expected to present some variation.
Additionally, the Cluetrain Manifesto challenges corporate behaviour of those companies still
believing to have the ability to control information disseminated by and written about it.
Examples provided will support the hypothesis that powerful consumers may have significant
impact on organisational behaviour, decision-making and outcomes.
Keywords: Empowered Consumer Concept, Symmetric Two-way communication,
Reputation, c2c, P2P

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information:

This paper has been published as a Special Report by Sigel Press, September, 2009.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: Empowered Consumer Concept, Symmetric Two-way communication, Reputation, c2c, P2P
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Divisions: College of Business, Psychology and Sport > Worcester Business School
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Klaus Oestreicher
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2009 09:15
Last Modified: 08 Jun 2021 09:25

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