This blog was founded on the idea that the world has seen a shift in power from the company to the consumer. We’ve discussed how this shift was fueled by the internet, e-commerce, and social media, and how it continues to be influenced through the mass acceptance of online reviews, which now show up on almost every site.
The modern day consumer is in charge of commerce, and they know it. The majority of consumers, at least the ones who spend the most, know that they have all the power in the relationship they have with the companies they buy from. And they’ve started using this power more and more. Some business owners would say they’re abusing this power.
Discounts and sales used to be special occurrences. No more. Today’s consumers know where to look for discounts and sales when they want them. The smart ones won’t buy anything at full price. And as business owners and marketers, we’ve taken the bait. We offer more sales and more discounts than ever before, to satisfy the consumer need to pay less than full price.
Daily deals companies like Groupon and LivingSocial have capitalized on this trend, essentially forcing companies to deeply discount their products and services in order to sell to the mass markets. There are sites like RetailMeNot, where consumers share discount codes with one another.
And now, even if you do make a sale at full price, you have not cleared the discount hurdle. The availability of discount coupons online often make a customer who has already made a purchase call back and ask for a discount to be applied retroactively. And it’s getting tougher and tougher to have a strict refund or discount policy in customer service departments, because one wrong move can lead to a consumer with a lot of clout spreading a bad review around the web.
Companies are walking a fine line, feeling the pressure to satisfy each and every customer – even when the request is unreasonable – in order to avoid some future disaster.
Should companies fight back against this shift in power to consumers? Is there any way to do this in the digital age? These are questions I ask myself, and some that I would love to hear your thoughts on as well.