2013: The Year of the Consumer

English: Income shift effect on consumers choices.
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Bill Bartmann, a best-selling author, recently submitted an article to The Huffington Post

English: Income shift effect on consumers choices.

English: Income shift effect on consumers choices. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

describing 2013 as the year of the consumer. According to Bartmann, a new Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will likely make huge changes with regard to consumer credit reporting, mortgage lending, and debt collecting. These changes will be dramatic, but some market analysts believe that the power of the consumer has been a long time coming. They suggest that 2013 will be the year of the consumer simply because it's high time for the consumer to have a voice of his own with regard to brand advertising, marketing, and the world market in general.

In the past, marketing and advertising efforts were brainstormed and created by marketing professionals. Then, these strategies were filtered down to the consumers who reacted to the marketing campaigns by either investing in a brand or not investing in a brand. This trickle-down marketing strategy that started with the brand and moved toward the consumer, however, may be coming to an end. In 2013, the most successful brands will be the ones that listen to consumers first and craft their marketing strategies and advertising campaigns based on what the consumers are demanding. The voice of the consumer will be stronger and more powerful than ever in 2013. With the prevalence of social media sharing, the boosted connectivity of the average consumer through mobile browsing, and the "instant gratification" mindset of the consumer that is sweeping throughout the world, brands that don't put the consumer first will struggle in the coming years.

2013 might be accurately labeled the "year of the consumer." Consumers will post content that does more for brands than anything coming from the business itself. Consumers will hold brands accountable, demand the products and services they need, control what they see online, and effectively take the reins of business marketing away from businesses. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Businesses that are able to capitalize on increased consumer control and influence will be able to reach millions of consumers while simultaneously saving money on advertising campaigns and marketing strategies. Understanding the nature of 2013: The Year of the Consumer will prepare businesses for the changes they need to adapt to thrive in the coming years.

Consumer-Created Content is Powerful

One of the biggest ways that consumers will prove their authority and power is through the content they create each day. Social networks, blogs, personal websites, and public forums are revealing the power of consumer comments and user-generated content. A brand cannot hope to survive the year of the consumer unless the content being created by consumers spins that brand in a positive light. Consumers trust other consumers, not brands and big businesses. Engaging and encouraging consumers to create positive content for a  brand may be the best way to develop a positive and profitable image in 2013.

Consumers Hold Brands Accountable

In 2013, consumers are not going to abide brands that use dishonest tactics or false advertising in order to acquire new customers. One of the best examples of this new consumer empowerment is the huge overhaul that is occurring in the credit card industry. Credit card companies are notorious for hiding charges and rate increases in a jumble of fine print and industry jargon. Consumers, however, are banding together to proclaim that this is no longer accessible. Because of this consumer activity, credit card companies are being forced to create new credit cards with no rate increases, no hidden fees, and a myriad of consumer benefits. These new credit cards have been created and released as a direct response to consumer demands.

In 2013, consumers are going to hold brands accountable. If a brand fails to provide a consumer with what was advertised, the brand is going to suffer. Consumers are able to rant and rave to massive audiences about their bad experiences with certain companies and businesses. Many brands are trembling in the presence of consumer scrutiny. Brands that remain accountable with their consumers, however, will do well in the coming years.

Consumers Protect Their Privacy

Consumers aren't going to abide the blatant misuse and abuse of their personal information in 2013. New consumer privacy laws will be created and enforced with an iron fist. Consumers are tired of having their personal information stolen or sold with little regard for the individual who owns, by right, that information. Businesses are going to have to adjust the ways in which they gather and use personal consumer information. If they don't, they'll face the wrath of the consumer machine.

Consumers Know What They Need and Want

2013 will be the year of the consumer because consumers know what they want, and they know how they want to get it. The instant gratification trend that has been developing for years will likely come to fruition in 2013. If consumers want products online, they will find retailers who sell those products online. If consumers want discounts on their favorite products, they won't rest until they get those discounts from a company willing to bend to consumer demands.

Consumers Help Shape Brand Concept

One of the biggest effects of the year of the consumer will be a clear revelation regarding how consumers shape the concept of a brand. In the past, brands developed and nurtured their own images. The design of a logo, the type of online activity in which brands engaged, the products offered, the prices featured, and the advertisements run on TV and radio helped to create an overall image for a brand. Today, though, consumers are the ones responsible for a brand's image. If consumers like a brand, image will improve. If consumers disapprove of company activity, a brand's image will struggle. The things consumers say, the types of consumers who sound off about a brand, and the activities and interests of a brand's consumers all help to create a solid brand image. Businesses that understand and accept the power of customers will be able to partner with consumers to develop a profitable brand image and generate wealth.

Consumers are powerful creatures, and their power will continue to increase throughout the new year. Businesses that try to force consumer opinion or manipulate the consumer machine will struggle in 2013. Businesses that accept and honor the power of the consumer will likely do just fine.