As long as there have been consumers (forever), sellers have been trying to influence their behavior. In the twentieth century advertising firms made influencing consumer behavior an art form and developed an array of psychological theories to explain it.
Fast forward to the twenty first century and the playing field has changed completely again. Thanks to modern information technology consumers approach their purchases in an entirely new way.
When modern consumers want information on a product they don’t go to the producer, they go to each other. Online forums have become the site of intense debate over the relative benefits and flaws of different products. Consumers trust each other because they know they have nothing to gain from the exchange but relevant information.
So where are these conversations taking place? Well one interesting development of the twenty first century has been the emergence of Social Media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. Increasingly marketers are going to these places and influencing consumer behavior directly.
Modern consumers are a lot savvier than previous generations, while previously advertisers sought to sell their products by creating unconscious associations with their consumer’s lifestyles and values; they are now having to convince consumers of the genuine benefits of a product instead.
Another modern way of influencing consumer behavior is by setting a positive example. Due to information technology consumers know more about companies than ever before, and are more critical as a result. This means that companies are having to behave more ethically as a result. Some companies are embracing this change though and are publicly helping communities around the world in order to secure a good image.
The fact that influencing consumer behavior is more difficult than before is a good thing. It means that consumers are demanding better treatment and getting it, and after all every seller is a consumer as well.