From The Exclusive To The Inclusive Consumer

Last week I introduced the concept of the connected consumer which is the first in the Marketing 4.0 series.

Today we are going to look at the marketing shift from Exclusive to Inclusive. In particular the shifts caused by demographic, emergent, technology, transparency & social elements.

Gone are the days when being exclusive was the goal. Inclusivity has become the new name of the game. Who would have thought that VB’s biggest recent splash for a ‘hard earned thirst’ was not a ‘big ad’ but a pic from ‘Posh Spice’ Victoria Beckham to her 23.1 million adoring fans via Instagram Story – “Kisses from VB in Sydney?”

This economic shift is often attributed to the demographic profile of the emerging market populations: younger, more productive, and growing in terms of income level. It has created strong demand for products and services, which in turn drives economic growth. Recent data, however, suggest that the reason might not just be demographic.

From the innovation perspective, emerging markets are also heading in a better direction. Recent data collected by Robert Litan suggests that innovation in the United States has been declining. The number of start-ups accounted for only 8 percent of total companies in the country, whereas 30 years ago, it was nearly 15 percent. In Litan’s data, the number of bankruptcies exceeded the number of start-ups.

The trajectory for Asia is quite the opposite. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, China will overtake the European Union and the United States in innovation-related spending by 2019. In 2012, South Korea became the most advanced country for innovation, spending over 4 percent of its GDP on research and development.

Business itself is moving toward inclusivity. Technology enables both automation and miniaturization, which bring down product costs and allow companies to serve the new emerging markets. The disruptive innovations across business sectors have brought cheaper and simpler products to the poor, formerly considered a “non-market.” Products and services once considered exclusive are now available to mass markets all over the world.

The transparency brought by the Internet also enables entrepreneurs from emerging countries to draw inspiration from their counterparts in developed countries. They are building clone businesses marked by local twists in the execution. There are, for example, Amazon-inspired from India, Groupon-inspired Disdus from Indonesia, PayPal-inspired Alipay in China, and Uber-inspired Grab in Malaysia. Consumers in these countries experience the services without having to wait for International companies to establish their footprints there.

At a more micro level, humans are embracing social inclusivity. Being inclusive is not about being similar; it is about living harmoniously despite differences. In the online world, social media has redefined the way people interact with one another, enabling people to build relationships without geographic and demographic barriers. The impact of social media does not stop there. It also facilitates global collaborations in innovation. Consider Wikipedia, which was built by a countless number of people, or InnoCentive, which broadcasts research and development challenges and asks for the best solutions. In fact, all social media that take a crowd-sourcing approach are good examples of social inclusivity. Social media drives social inclusivity and gives people the sense of belonging to their communities.

Social inclusivity is happening not only online but offline as well. The concept of inclusive cities —cities that welcome the diversity of their inhabitants—are often dubbed as a good model for sustainable cities. Similar to the concept of social media, the concept of inclusive cities argues that when cities welcome minorities who are often left behind and give them a sense of acceptance that will only benefit the cities. Social inclusivity can also appear in the form of fair trade, employment diversity, and empowerment of women. These practices embrace human differences across gender, race, and economic status. Brands like the Body Shop are building a strong commitment to social inclusivity with values such as “support community trade” and programs such as “stop violence in the home.” It is also why movements like ‘Me Too’ have caught like wild fire.

Next week we are going to look at some of the paradoxes that Marketers face.

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