5 ways you can harness your consumer power
Did you know that you have hidden powers?
That’s right, you can influence how governments and organisations work at the touch of a button (or a device screen).
True, we’ve been able to vote for over a century and to choose one retailer or service supplier over another. However, we’ve generally only been able to select from a limited range of options that someone else decided that they wanted to present to us. We can vote governments in and out, but we can’t change how the system works. Or can we?
Citizens and consumers in many countries can now dictate the choices we want, and we are getting results. We are the ones with the power. Here are some of the areas where we are having the biggest influence.
Ok. This power is not so hidden. Everywhere we look online and in stores, there is evidence that many retailers are paying attention to our needs and suggestions. We expect to view a businesses goods or services online before ever going near a store. That way, we can compare prices and features in our own time. Sometimes, we’ll go to their premises to make our final choice, but, increasingly, we’ll just get them to deliver our order at a time we choose. That could be anything from new clothes to a new car.
Food supplier, Marley Spoon, has taken this concept even further. Instead of just having our groceries delivered, we can now have all the ingredients pre-portioned for specific recipes we’ve planned out on their website. That means more convenience for us, plus far less food wastage. In his podcast interview on The Mentor List, Dave Malcolm, Marley Spoon’s co-founder explained that the company’s philosophy is very much based around customer choice, even when that makes things more complex for them to manage.
One of the best ways to find out what we want as consumers is to ask us. This goes far beyond asking which finished product we like best, now we can provide input at the design stage. We can also ask for products or services to cater for needs that aren’t being filled. If we don’t like something, we can say so.
Some organisations set up their own consumer groups and refer to them regularly. Others use agencies like Select Opinion Leaders to conduct online surveys, interviews, and group discussions to provide feedback on everything from cereal packaging design to mobile app functionality. As a bonus, consumers are usually reimbursed well for their opinions and time.
We know that crowdfunding is an increasingly popular alternative to traditional business finance. Investors have the power to help many start-ups gain traction when they might have struggled otherwise. But, this form of direct involvement also allows investors to influence things like product design and business policy, which can benefit all parties.
Julee Morrison discusses this benefit in more depth in her Huffington Post article, How crowdfunding has influenced start-ups.
“If the campaign is started early in the development phase, then this gives early backers enough time to follow and comment on the evolution of the product. This can help direct smaller and more inexperienced businesses, in the right direction.”
Do you ever get the impression that politicians don’t really listen to us anymore and that they are tightly bound by red tape? While we can currently express our opinions at the ballot box, through online petitions and through advocacy, we are all bound by the limitations of a very outdated system.
What if we could have our say on each major policy decision made in between elections and hold our representatives accountable to us at all times? Around the world, citizens are becoming increasingly frustrated with political systems that no longer serve our needs and showing this at the polls. (Think Brexit and Trump’s election.) This frustration is fuelling the growth of grassroots movements proposing sweeping and radical changes.
MiVote is one such organisation. They are a global not-for-profit democratic movement who provide members with detailed information on all major issues up for debate in parliament. Members can choose which issues they want to support via votes on a sophisticated mobile app. Votes are tallied and MiVote representatives can then present the results in parliament as each issue is debated.
Australia’s health system is leading the way in harnessing the power of consumer input to help shape better outcomes. The days where we went to the doctor who gave us very little information and dictated our treatment options for us are (almost) gone. Now, health care consumers (including patients, carers, and families) are allowed to discuss their care options with their health professionals and make decisions for themselves. The whole primary care system is currently being completely overhauled by the introduction of Health Care Homes, a scheme that places consumers with chronic or complex conditions right at the centre of their own care plan.
Hospitals, clinics, and community health centres everywhere are also actively involving consumer representatives in many parts of their organisations. The Consumers Health Forum is a national body that advocates for health consumers and directs members towards committees and consumer representative vacancies.
These are just a few of the many areas where consumer power is changing the world around us. So, next time you feel that ‘the system’ isn’t paying any attention to you, tap into those powers of yours and speak up so you can help turn the system on its head.
Call to action…
To learn more about how Marley Spoon is tailoring their business to suit individual consumers, listen to David Malcolm’s interview on The Mentor List.
David is a senior international executive and entrepreneur with a proven track record in global branding, digital & product marketing, brand communications and management. He is also a thought leader who is passionate about all aspects of integrated marketing, digital and social innovation and the application of emerging technologies in nurturing and growing brands. You can hear David’s story and his tips for success when you tune in to his interview. Go ahead. You have the power!
Kick start your personal journey to success from the conversations David has with his inspirational guests on The Mentor List. www.mentorlist.com.au
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