How has the Internet changed consumers over the past 10 years and how can marketers best adapt?

Written by Anonymous

During the past 10 years, the importance of the Internet has won increased attention for both consumers and corporations worldwide, where the accelerating business environment allows corporations to reach consumers in total new ways through social platforms like: Facebook, Youtube & Twitter. Companies increasing focus on reaching the consumers through the World Wide Web, puts increasing pressure on the marketers to adapt to the changing circumstances of promoting and connecting with the consumers. With the overall objective to improve sales, revenues and meet the increasing expectations from the consumers. The purpose of this blog post is therefore for the reader to get a deeper understanding on how the internet has changed consumers in the past 10 years and how the marketers within corporations can use the shifting market trends to adapt in the best possible way in the years to come. 

Evolution of the Internet: 

The first sign of the World Wide Web has its roots back to the late 1960´s and has since developed into what we today know as the main source of gathering information (Campbell-Kelly, M. & Garcia-Swartz, D., 2013). However the real start of the internet as we know today can be linked back to 1989 when Tim Bruners-Lee who many sees as the main person behind the World Wide Web, designed the platform making it possible to work by linking people’s knowledge with hypertext documents on the web (Tim Berners-Lee, 2013). Since the start of the Internet in 1989, the Internet has been through a significant development in form of different implementations. Starting with the so-called Web 1.0 that is considered as the “read-only” web where consumers globally were able to connect with both corporations and other online users. This development meant that many corporations saw huge potential in the Internet and therefore rushed by transforming their corporate values on to the Internet platform (Berthon et al., 2012). Since the beginning of Web 1.0, the constantly changing world has meant that a new technology has changed the way the consumers use the web yet again. The development of Web 2.0 has meant that users can communicate and express themselves in their own personal way, through social media and other online platforms like Wikipedia and Blogs, which makes it easier than ever to access information, that often will affect the consumers buying behavior (Scott, 2007). As of 2015 the impact of social media is expected to continue its dominance, where new social platforms inform of image-based sites like Instragram, Google+ and Tumblr, is expected to gain even more popularity by new users. The main new trend for 2015 will mainly be the kind of updates posted on social medias that will actually influence consumers to buy new products by watching videos and images on online platforms (Halsall, 2015). 

Social Media’s impact on Marketing: 

The social media´s rising popularity has meant that corporations has the opportunity to target potential customers in new and more budget friendly ways (Scott, 2007). As the more traditional advertising within newspapers, magazines and TV ads has experienced a decrease in commercial revenues in the last 10 years, mainly due to an often cheaper and a more precise way of attracting new consumers through advertising on social media. 

The report from Business insider UK indicates that the development will continue, as corporations will have even larger focus on using their advertising budget on social-media, as it is predicted to increase rapidly in the years to come with an annual growth rate of 18 percent until 2018 (Hoelzel, 2014). One of the key reasons why social media has impacted the way corporations has changed their view on spending advertising money on social media, is that corporations have the opportunity to communicate in a more direct way with its target group thanks to Blogs and Social Media that makes it possible to understand the niche consumer. The key element for a corporation to be successful within marketing today is in many ways to understand the fine balance of using old tools that has focus on solving problems from the past to actually develop new tools that is relevant for todays society. The key for being successful will often be to transform the best elements from traditional marketing into a tool that can capture new consumers through advertising on social media (Wind, 2008).

Changing Consumer habits: 

The social media has meant that there has been a shift within consumer habits. This has influenced that consumers today has more focus on competitive value, by getting more for its money, by using search and decision tools to find a combination of the right product to the right price. Secondly the social media has had an impact upon that consumers has more focus on being part of communities that they can identify themselves with, which often will influence the consumer habits based on the single individuals environment (Wind, 2008). The Internet has also transformed consumer habits in the way consumers interact with each other. From the past where consumers turned to marketer-generated sources like asking advice from family and relatives before buying products, where consumers today is using the so called eWOM, that allows consumers to interact with other online users with similar interests. For consumers to communicate with other online users gives the consumers a unique opportunity to exchange product information and make purchasing decisions based on advice from other online users (King, Racherla and Bush, 2014). 

How can Marketers best adapt: 

So, how can marketers best adapt to the changing circumstances of consumer habits and social media´s impact on how to reach the consumers?. This section will have focus on three key areas that marketers can use as a tool to reach new consumers. 

- Importance’s of understanding network platforms: 

Network platforms will in many ways be one of the crucial success factors for marketers in the years to come as it gives corporations a change to create communities where shared interest and values can be made, to lower the distance between the corporation and the consumer. An great example of an network platform that has worked extremely successful is Unilever´s 2007 launch of the campaign “Real Beauty”, with the objective to connect with women to enhance their self-esteem, by showing realistic standards of beauty (Faulds and Mangold, 2009). This campaign was a huge success as Unilever´s marketers understood to find a good balance between advertising of their products on social media´s and having the needed interest from the network platforms to connect with potential consumers. 

- Use Social media to engage customers: 

The second key element that marketers needs to focus upon is to use blogs and other social medias to engage customers. As the development shows that consumers in general are more engaged with products and the interest in a given corporation if they have the opportunity to submit feedback directly to companies through social medias (Faulds and Mangold, 2009). A successful example of how to engage customers on social media is Toyota´s campaign “Open Road Blog”, which has given consumers the possibility to come with constructive feedback on a design of a car model, where potential consumers, bloggers, journalist, could give constructive feedback on the design, which gave Toyota a lot of positive publicity from engaged consumers on social platforms (Faulds and Mangold, 2009).

- Support causes that are important to consumers: 

Lastly marketers can succeed by having more focus on telling consumers, what they do to support causes that are both related to the product its selling and of importance’s of the consumer. As consumers today have a strong desire to understand what a given corporation is doing in order to make the world a better place. This is something that marketers can show through social media posting pictures or videos to build an emotional connection to the potential consumer. Ben & Jerry´s is a great example of a company that has understood to support causes that are important for both the corporation and its consumers. As they invest in promoting social and environmental concerns, like avoiding consumption of meat from cloned animals and supporting heavily in young children’s health in different nations around the world (Faulds and Mangold, 2009). 


To sum up this blog post its quite evident that the Internet has changed the general consumer in the past 10 years, especially after the introduction of social media, that has had a huge impacted in the way that consumers make their buying decisions. As the social media wins more and more popularity, the marketers in any corporation have an even greater responsibility than ever to adapt and follow the new way of connecting with consumers online. As all numbers indicates that being active on social media and the Internet in the years to come will be a crucial success factor for any corporation worldwide.  


Reference List: 

Berthon, P., Pitt, L., Plangger, K. and Shapiro, D. (2012). Marketing meets Web 2.0, social media, and creative consumers: Implications for international marketing strategy. Business Horizons, [online]55(3),pp.261-271.Availableat: [Accessed 13 Feb. 2015].

Campbell-Kelly, M. and Garcia-Swartz, D. (2013). The History of the Internet: The Missing Narratives. SSRN Journal, [online] (28), pp.p. 18-33. Available at: [Accessed 12 Feb. 2015].

Faulds, D. and Mangold, G. (2009). Social media: The new hybrid element of the promotion mix. BusinessHorizons,[online]52(4),pp.357-365.Availableat: [Accessed 15 Feb. 2015].

Halsall, A. (2015). The 7 Top Social Media Trends That Will Impact Your Marketing In 2015. [online]Yahoo´Small´Business.Available´at: [Accessed 14 Feb. 2015].

Hoelzel, M. (2014). THE SOCIAL-MEDIA ADVERTISING REPORT: Growth Forecasts, Market Trends, And The Rise Of Mobile. [online] Business Insider. Available at:  [Accessed 14 Feb. 2015].

King, R., Racherla, P. and Bush, V. (2014). What We Know and Don't Know About Online Word-of-Mouth: A Review and Synthesis of the Literature. Journal of Interactive Marketing, [online] 28(3),pp.167-183.Availableat: [Accessed 15 Feb. 2015].

Tim Berners-Lee. (2013). Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, [online] 6th Edition, p.1. Available at:  [Accessed 12 Feb. 2015].

Scott, D. (2007). The new rules of marketing and PR. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons.

Wind, Y. (2008). A Plan to Invent the Marketing We Need Today. [online] 47(4). Available at: [Accessed 14 Feb. 2015].