The Consumer Engagement Revolution

It’s the beginning of the glorious Independence Day weekend. Here in Boston, it’s particularly poignant. As I’m typing this I can look out the window on the Boston Harbor and easily imagine crates and crates of tea happily bobbing up and down in defiance. 

Defiance of what?

Taxation without representation? Sort of.

It was really about unfair value exchange.

It’s about paying too much and receiving too little. Or, worse yet, paying for something and receiving nothing at all in return. Didn’t go over then. Doesn’t go over now. Here are a few examples:

Get up in the morning, step up for a shave, and use a razor whose blades are seemingly priced on a Gold Standard equivalent. Why so much? Nobody knew. Until Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s exposed that they don’t need to be.

Picking out a wardrobe that dates back to Colonial times because hitting what’s left of the malls or slinking into a boutique to feel oversized and under-informed are equally unpalatable? Not any more. Trunk Club, Stitch Fix and others will do the shopping for you and have you au courant without leaving the house. A few taps on the app and you’re stylin’. Don’t like what they picked out? Send it back. No lines. No fees. No recriminations. They’re service companies nattily clad as product ones.

Head for the fridge to grab a bite before heading out. Empty. Why? Supermarket a soul-crushing excursion through endless perishable aisles in your book? From Peapod to Instacart, get whatever you crave delivered to your door when it’s convenient for you. Of course, Amazon Prime takes this to a whole new level with everything from Peaches to Power Tools. No hassle. No fees. No problem. 

I know Independence Day is not for resolutions or predictions, but here are a couple to chew on:

Education will become more personalized. It’s going to be a lot less oration about what the teacher (or school or government) wants you to know and much more about what students and their families want to learn. Following the natural path, like pupa to butterfly, each pupil will blossom into a consumer (of content, information, and wisdom from diverse sources) largely at his or her own pace.

Similarly, Healthcare will continue to morph from ‘Sickcare’ into a much more data-based, real-time, and personalized thrust-and-parry stimulus of symptoms, measurables, and general feelings from each consumer with a personalized response of treatment, prescriptions (both Pharma and lifestyle) and ‘journeys’ from healthcare providers (some part of the existing Medical establishment and some not).

This may happen this year. Maybe next. Maybe a decade or decades from now.

But I do believe they will happen. And when they do, there will be no turning back.

With all due respect to my many friends in the former Empire, you can’t unring a liberty bell.