A new marketing paradigm is emerging—human-centric marketing, which is an evolution of our current customer-centric approach. And it's beginning to change the way we are introduced to and form relationships with brands.

Before I define human-centric marketing and answer the question "why now?" it makes sense to review why the consumer-centric approach to marketing is falling short:

1. It views people as somewhat passive participants.
2. It measures success by how much merchandise a consumer moves.
3. Rising paradoxes have led consumers to seek more meaningful relations with brands.

The consumer-centric approach to marketing is a result of the information age, which has information technology at its core. It was an economic shift, a move away from older corporate-centered systems defined by large companies to a more people-driven one.

Websites, social networks, blogs, microblogging platforms, and mobile apps now allow people to have a voice. As a result, that shift has driven transparency and global access to products and services in the market. It has changed the dynamics of individual and corporate communications, which have becoming more active, micro, portable, live, informational, improvisational, and personal.

However, one problem with the consumer-centric approach is that it views people as somewhat passive participants in marketing campaigns.

"Consumer-oriented brands' only meaningful metric is how much merchandise they move, and consumers tie their status to how much of a scarce resource they consume," writes Mike Bonifer in his GameChangers. "The model is unsustainable. It is a zero-sum game. If we keep playing it, we are like arsonists watching our own homes burn."

Events such as 9-11, the massive economic downturn of the past decade, and rising paradoxes associated with globalization and environmental disasters, such as BP's oil leak into the Gulf of Mexico and the devastating earthquake in Japan earlier this year, have led people to seek out more meaningful, authentic connections with one another and with brands.
 
In his Marketing 3.0, Philip Kotler, author of some 20 marketing books, suggests we have been going through a process of social adaptation, organizational readjustment, and changing personal expectation. At first glance, these recent changes seem centered on new forms of informational resources, much as the Industrial Revolution seemed to be powered by new machines and new forms of energy. But a closer examination reveals that the current transformation we are undergoing is broader.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeremi Karnell is co-founder of One to One, an integrated marketing and technology firm focused on helping brands activate and acquire the social customer. Jeremi can be reached via jkarnell@onetooneglobal.com.