The late John Wooden once said, “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”  Wooden’s words ring true with today’s consumerism trends.  Consider the American automobile industry.  It nearly tanked because it stood by the production of large gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs in the face of record-high oil prices.  Or think about third generation retailers who still cling to their grandfather’s actions of placing the weekend specials in Wednesday’s paper, all the while hoping for an increase in sales.  In our current retail industry, we must adapt to meet the needs and wants of our consumers to avoid disastrous consequences.

A Shift in the Marketing Paradigm

Retailers can no longer tell the consumer what they need.  Previously, retailers relied on “pull marketing” to shove copious amounts of advertisements in society’s face.  Pull marketing was a top-down approach that used clever commercials and slogans to make consumers feel their life was incomplete without a particular product.  For instance, can you possibly imagine going to a baseball game and not buying a box of Cracker Jacks or worse, letting a summer pass you by without grilling a package of Johnsonville Brats?  Marketing made these items a part of our culture and embedded them into our everyday life and rituals.  But long gone are the positive effects of pull marketing.

The Digital Era and Informed Consumers

Fancy ads alone will no longer drive shoppers into your store and sell your product.  Consumers are now well-informed and smarter.  This changed when satellites ushered in the digital era to broadcast massive amounts of information at instantaneous transmissions.  Now, the internet, iPhones and satellite radio all transmit messages to a worldwide audience.  Facebook, Twitter and blogs even allow buyers to rate their products and persuade or dissuade the behavior of others.  Because of this, customers are smarter and they have demands.  If retailers cannot answer questions, live up to certain expectations or change their marketing approach, they will fail in an era of informed consumerism.

Retailers do not have to change their core values or mission statement.  But they do have to be aware of trends in the industry. So, ask yourself, is your business transforming itself to satisfy the consumer instead of telling them what they need?  Are you devoted to customer service so that consumers promote your services instead writing defaming blogs?  Do you have the adequate answers to suit your customers’ specific needs?  If you cannot answer yes to these questions or if your business still tells the customers what they need instead of providing for their needs, it’s time to rethink your marketing strategy before it’s too late.