Letting Consumers Control Marketing: Priceless

New York Times:

REMEMBER the old advertising slogan, “Let Hertz put you in the driver’s seatâ€??

Marketers of all sorts are now being urged to give up the steering wheel to a new breed of consumers who want more control over the ways products are peddled to them.

Exhortations to bring consumers into the tent dominated the agenda of the 96th annual conference of the Association of National Advertisers. The nearly 1,000 people who attended the conference – a record for the trade group – heard one speaker after another describe a need to replace decades worth of top-down marketing tactics with bottom-up, grass-roots approaches.

“The power is with the consumer,â€? said A. G. Lafley, chief executive at the Procter & Gamble Company. “Marketers and retailers are scrambling to keep up with her.â€?

Stephen F. Quinn, senior vice president for marketing at Wal-Mart Stores, the nation’s largest retailer, echoed Mr. Lafley.

“Today, the customer is in charge,â€? Mr. Quinn said, “and whoever is best at putting the customer in charge makes all the money.â€?

Wal-Mart, struggling to stimulate sluggish sales growth, is “in transformationâ€? and looking beyond its traditional base of rural, low-income customers, Mr. Quinn said. It is aiming to woo a more affluent and suburban “selective shopperâ€? who must be convinced that Wal-Mart has merchandise “up to their quality and taste standards,â€? he said.

Photo by merfam.

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