What Is Customer 2.0?

What is customer 2.0? – That is the very question I found myself asking when I first came across the expression early this year. It took quite a lot of searching the interwebz to actually find and deduce the answer, and despite it being a ‘buzz’ word (laced with pejorative and ephemeral connotation) it actually made a lot of sense that this new paradigm had surfaced.

At the same time, it’s always a bit of an uneasy process when you de-personalise a noun, such as ‘customer’, and breed it to have cybernetic implants.

Customer 2.0 is essentially a reflection of the shift in consumer consciousness being experienced across Generation X and Y. New media and the digital revolution has resulted in the extreme globalisation of everything, and as such consumerism is evolving. We, as consumers, are responding to this changing environment in an interesting way. It is interesting because, for the most part, we’re not aware of what’s going on. Those in the marketing and advertising industry are no doubt more attuned to these shifts in the hive mind – it’s their jobs to exploit these direction changes as best they can. From the consumer perspective, however, its harder to see. Let me give you an example.

Customer 1.0 loves to read magazines and papers. They are inclined to make brand choices on the back of traditional advertising, and they don’t quite understand what this digital nonsense is all about. Tweeting is what birds do! Customer 1.0 expects to have to resolve product issues through the traditional avenues of phone and face-to-face customer support. Customer 1.0 does make decisions on the back of word of mouth endorsements.

Customer 2.0 will tweet what they had for breakfast! papers are growing ever-more defunkt as the boom of online news and RSS functionality reaches epic proportions. They LOVE viral, and probably spend more time online than watching tv. Customer 2.0 expects companies to have an online presence, they prefer to shop online (for the vast majority of purchases), and the ecommerce sites they do this on better be quick or they’re going elsewhere. Customer 2.0 seeks user-reviews to inform brand choices, and is likely to put a significant amount of time into researching potential purchases. Customer 2.0 is starting to expect a social media presence too, and they love innovation (and reward brands for being innovative). Customer 2.0 prefers email to phones.

The point I’m trying to make here is that Customer 2.0 expects these technological advances to become a part of their consumer experience. They aren’t treated as novel or new, they are just expected to be there. Furthermore Customer 2.0 is tied to Web 2.0 (an oft-disputed term its self) – in that the evolution of the internet and the customer are moving in the same direction.

In a bid to avoid the vague ambiguity that some articles on Customer 2.0 have dished up, I shall define what I think Customer 2.0 is…  (you may obviously have a different opinion – comments always welcome)

Customer 2.0

  • Tech savvy > competent to fluent on many websites/programs/operating systems
  • Discerning > un-trusting of traditional advertising and marketing methods, they look to fellow consumers for product endorsement and will research key purchases in depth
  • Tiny Attention Span > websites need to be super quick, information moves through the brain very fast, ‘viral’ media peaks then fades quickly
  • Dual Personality > often managing several social media and community profiles as well as the ‘offline’ world, Customer 2.0 has different persona’s across the spectrum
  • Loves Email > Customer 2.0 generally prefers to sort customer service problems over digital media (seeing the start of social media integration)
  • Flexible > Customer 2.0 is more flexible than Customer 1.0, up for trying new services, prepared to consider a different method of achieving something (e.g. customer service via Facebook)

I think the above list is probably a bit elementary, but it gets the key message across; Customer 2.0 is technologically savvy and expects more from their brands. For the brands to survive, or at least keep ahead, they much change too and they must do so in the same direction their customers are headed.

But that’s for another time.

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