Here is a question …is it corporations, who by their ad campaigns ultimately determine what consumers want? Or is it consumers, whom producer must satisfy in order to stay in business? Or as Flavio puts it “Beware of the connected-consumer. For he/she will have a vote on what the next “unobtainable” will be. We want to 'co-create the unobtainable'. After all, we do this for hours in the web, everyday.” Good observations. Let’s take a look at Bart’s view (from his post this morning):
“Luxury comes from exclusivity. Individualism equals exclusivity. So by definition, every time a brand gives room to consumers to express their individualism, it becomes an exclusive, luxurious good. This will lead to a future of consumers using their self-expression to get the luxury into pretty much any brand in their brandsphere.”
“On the other hand, one could also argue luxury brands should never empower consumers, as that (not being able to personalize your brand) would create an unobtainable in itself.”
This deceptively simple question has been at the heart of debate between marketing scholars and practitioners. The success of marketing lies in its ability to embed meanings in brands and products. This suggestions leads to the important conclusion that meaning does not necessary emanate from the material or functional aspects of products or services. Consumer understandings and experiences of what are seemingly objectives properties are simply “culturally constructions” and often comes from "conversations". Today many of these conversations are happening in a vitual environment and cultural constructions happen a lot faster and are more global in nature. Brands have symbolic meanings in all cultures and societies. Marketers need to induce the consumer with a preference or to pay a premium for luxury brands that are sometimes (somtimes) more mass produced similar quality products. And now, the power to induce is shared by the consumers.
Once markets believed that to mobilize meanings it means owning and monopolizing through media channels of meaning creation. Nike, for instance, does not aim to attract particular meanings to its products; it just needs to attach the swoosh to any person, place or event that is granted cultural value in the world of sport. Mercedes Benz does aim to attract particular meanings to its range of automobiles; it just needs to have its logo to be seen in major events of golf of tennis where cultural value is being granted.
So that brings us the conclusion that a CMO should really be called the Chief Meaning Officer. How many CMO out there that truly understands what we have discussed the last couple of days and their marketing team is fully equipped for this new job of "co-creating meaning with customers?" For sure, traditional ad agencies struggle so much and many are stuck in the 80's advertising paradigm. How many of them have the right mindset and tools to sell the “unobtainable”?