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

Written by Jesper Alang-Rasmusen

With the new media landscape we face a new era of consumer involvement that for the companies needs attention to. The new way of approach is the use of social media such as blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and other Web 2.0 platforms. As said this is where the consumers are, contributing, sharing and accessing constantly on the overall World Wide Web. This new thing is not only for shaping the consumers but also to empower them in the fields of internet marketing. For the marketers this means that if they can through social media influence the consumers’ perception and behavior then marketers can reap the commercial gains as long as companies are willing to adapt to the behavior of their consumers (Akar and Topcu, 2011). The firm’s willingness to pursue this new revenue stream is fundamental, both now and in the future. “Traditional companies” that ex. Provides a service now have to face new competition as the article from McKinsey(, 2015) shows, there are new business models that conflict with the norm sat by companies before the digital age, hotels, that now faces the treats of Airbnb, that unlike normal hotels use the internet.

From the start to now: Evolution of the Web.

The Web was introduced in 1989 by Tim Bruners-Lee and has been on a remarkable journey since, both in scale and use (Getting, 2007; Boulos and Wheeler, 2007). Since the Web 2.0 coming and redefinition the marketer’s role of digital marketing to be more consumer-centric, creating new value to companies in their pursuit of revenue.

The difference between Web 1.0 vs Web 2.0 was that the first was a read-only webs and a system of cognition(Getting, 2007). The mission was to create a base of followers that would seek information and make the web the “Norm” or standard way of getting information and establishing an online presence for companies (Aghaei, Nematbakhsh and Farsani, 2012). The later Web 2.0 is based on interactivity and participation using the platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, twitter etc. to express their behavior and believes without filter. This is done with a speed at range across the web (McIntyre, 2013)

The outcome of this is that consumers are able to make decisions based on multi-channeled information flows that will form their behavior online. Now what is this good for? The differences between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 is that the later will change consumer behavior, enhance user participation and therefore empower the consumer in the field of internet marketing(Labrecque et al. 2013) The natural next step is to know what to use the Web 2.0 for in commercial forms of enterprise.

User perspective:

When companies use online brand channels like social-networking sites, this have turned to user- generated content through development and sustainability (Gangadharbatla, 2008). User generated content (UGC) is the driver of affiliation and by that consumer insights, that as long as sustained will give the companies the opportunity to use that data into the brand equity cycle (Duffy, 2015). Furthermore using the consumer empowerment through online participation in sharing and creating more goodwill for the brand in gaining new as well as maintaining the consumer base with the brands and their products(Jevons and Gabbott, 2000; Riegner, 2007).

- Changing the perceptions and behavior of the consumer

Without a doubt the Web 2.0 provides the companies with the tools on a strategic level to engage with their consumers, getting their opinion on the brand and product or service (Veer, 2011: 2015). This is done even more with the ease in accessibility of Big Data through mobile devices, in return, to gain insights to knowing the consumers behavior and perceptions. In this the word of mouth from the consumers affiliation orientated view, again confirming the brand equity cycle (Duffy, 2015)

- How to REAP the benefits of changing consumer behavior?

According to (McIntyre, 2013) the proliferation of the internet has been the biggest catalyst in the shift from marketers to consumers. With this the way that a product or service is communicated by word of mouth is not only from a marketing use and the need for involvement on a more personal level is needed(, 2015). The way is done by e.g. content managers that are responsible for the communication of the brands activity online B2C, instead of just doing e.g. marketing campaigns. The responsibility also includes search engine optimization to create a pipeline between the consumer that have an interest and the company that want to connect.

- Consumer Relations Management:

As previous discussed in the section talks about the importance of managing the relationship is key. The online platform is double faced, meaning that the online world is a positive and a negative. The way that this is shown is that if a company performs the consumer will as mentioned before use word of mouth, if the company underperforms then there is blogs, debate platform, trust pilot just to name a few that will affect the brand equity(Duffy, 2015) if well exposed (Cheong and Morrison, 2008). The need for an effective feedback system is therefore essential to the company in their goal of maintaining a sustainable business model and revenue stream. The problem with online platform is that once is out in the web is stays there, negative and positive feedback (Sridhar and Srinivasan, 2012).

Companies that are just beginning in going from a paper-content to a digital content have the possibility of buying a company that will help them transform the overall strategy as is the case of Aller media. The company bought OMG-media A/S as part of their SAFARI- strategy as the company specializes in digital marketing including SEO, Facebook, content marketing as well as implementation (E24, 2014).It goes without saying that if the company wanted to start and develop themselves then the need for acquiring the now subsidiary company would be of no use, but in the timeframe and the speed of the internet as mentioned before this is the outcome for the companies that didn’t got onboard from the start, and now have to make a large investment to stay and keep up in the media landscape. Now why is this important? Well when maneuvering in the media landscape where there is a constant shift in behavior and so much information provided the “Window of opportunity” is limited and should be use by people with the skills to do so.

In offering the product or service to consumers the need for the consistency in the products price in the various channels is key, as if consumers use comparison sites and the outcome of this is that the company isn’t consistent, then consumers would make the brand, product or service suffer. (Laroche, Kiani, Economakis and Richard, 2013).

As previous mentioned in the article by McKinsey (, 2015) we see that the companies are using large amount of data to gain valuable insights on their consumers. The means is to deliver a more personalized consumer experience to enter the consumer’s inner circles (McIntyre, 2013). This data turned into smart data by the use of extended analytics will be used as a tool for marketers in lead generation in such that when they (the marketers) approach the consumer, the consumer will feel more in line with the sender and feel more affiliated with the product or service that the company provides.


The internet has changed fundamentally how consumers perceive the brands, products and services. The role of the marketer has gone from a generic to a more centralized consumer orientated, information driven standpoint. As the upside is the waste speed of the internet and the use of this the pressure is on the companies to see, to understand and to interpret the consumers behavior and perceptions to get more involvement with these in order to capture the value that can be channeled from this revenue stream. The use of UGC to develop brand affiliation and sustainability is fundamental for marketers and the firm behind them, and should if needed invest to keep track of the development as the outcome if not doing so will be perhaps the companies’ downfall. The solution is to use both online and offline approaches as they will but the consumer daily need first, not always being online but also approached offline and building brand equity, history and credibility to use in the online, digital marketing-mix. The need for using big data and turning this into smart data is key to finding the fundamentals of the consumer (, 2015), and will help to pin-point the effort and scale of every approach, but also to maintain and surveillance the consumer behavior to make the company pro-active instead of reactive like the case has been with Aller media, that was forced to buy a specialized digital marketing company. The role will be for the next five years the company’s use of marketing content teams that ideally have their big data analyzing skills in order to give the most value for the companies.



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