I just arrived here at the San Diego Bayfront Hilton in anticipation of The Market Research Event 2010.
On the flight from Washington I had some time to think and finish reading Rachel Botsman’s new book on “the rise of collaborative consumption.”
Botsman paints a sweeping landscape of consumers cooperating in their purchase and use of products. It’s an excellent read.
Her book makes me think that one way to look at the change coming to market research is to segment these changes by endogenous change coming from within marketing research and exogenous change coming from the outside (something Smith and Raspin in their book Creating Market Insight call the “remote environment”.
As an industry we have quite a bit to be proud of, especially when it comes to recent innovation (MROCs, mobile, neuromarketing, the stuff BrainJuicer seems to cook up daily, etc.), but it certainly does feel as though a significant piece of the change is coming from outside.
And, when it comes to external change, the world Botsman paints suggests some extreme levels of change in product innovation (crowdsourced), branding (from status to purpose and me to we), product usage (shared) and product lifecycle (longer). It’s no exaggeration to say that the future she paints would turn marketing and marketing research upside down.
If Botsman is right, then those of us in marketing research are more likely than ever to run/manage/moderate insights communities (MROCs) and design communities (see HYVE). We’ll track the discussion of purpose-driven community clusters in real time, tightening the feedback loop.
If she’s right, brands will become much more about shared purpose and passion. And, they will be built or destroyed by a corporation’s reputation. But, this reputation element will no longer be ethereal. As I’ve noted before and as Botsman states in her book, by the end of the decade we are likely to have a kind of online reputational currency for both people and corporations (she calls these “reputation bank accounts”).