Saturday, 7 March 2009

The exchange is now the bonus

I had to come up with some quick sentiments yesterday at a marketing breakfast here in Melbourne. After hearing the first three speakers (financial services, FMCG and info/search backgrounds), talk about value, value and value, it became increasingly clear to me that marketing is no longer about an exchange in value, rather, it's about providing value. We obviously would like it to be the former, but to remain competitive in this age of transparency, dialogue and choice we need to constantly think about giving our users, our consumers, value in all aspects of our offering. I think the web is a great indication of this, with many solely web-based companies naturalising into global giants completely through caring about the user and adding value to their experience. The bottom line for them is their users, as this is where the power lies. If an exchange takes place, perfect - it is now the bonus. If not, a timely awakening might be on the cards.

This progression in marketing has shifted to an almost political-like model - we have leaders, but really these are nothing without the people. They are followers to their people - dictated to on a daily basis. The power has shifted. This is democracy in its purest form. People are being collectively given what they want, and if not they'll move onto someone else who will. The same goes for brands.

The only products or services where this is redundant are luxury brands, since they have always done the dictating. People want to be told what to want. On the downside, with disposable incomes on the decline, it will interesting to see if this will be the case in a couple of years.



  1. I agree and I think there are more opportunities than ever to create value for users by collaborating with other service providers. Open APIs are an obvious example but there are others where complimentary web-based services or applications can be integrated for mutual benefit to make a better user experience (a win-win-win). Deals like this seem easier to do these days perhaps due to the fabled web2.0 mindset actually becoming a reality...or maybe it's because the economy is screwed and freely available value-creation strategies are more attractive!

  2. Nice piece, Kate. I agree that value exchange is probably a decreasingly relevant model, and I am sick of hearing marketers talk about "added value" when they really aren't adding anything.

    I know marketers have often been suspicious of economists but for a while now I've been attracted to (and have taught) a view of marketing that owes a lot to some of the economic ideas outlined in Brandenburger and Nalebuff's book "Co-opetition". After reading their book and playing with a few of the concepts I think we (marketers) should be building strategies with the aim of CREATING value.

    The exchange of value model was really more about dividing existing value than creating it. Drive down costs, develop more efficient channels, etc. and you could lower price, and split the value differently, but you weren't creating anything new.

    But I think the most successful online models are about CREATING value - for example, by bringing buyers and sellers together in new ways, so that there is more value than either could create alone... meaning there's more to be shared. Some of that newly-created value lies in relationships and networks that just would not be possible without the technology.

    It's an interesting discussion - more complex than a quick comment allows - and thanks for raising it.


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