By Leigh Andrews

So, what comes to mind when I mention consumer 2.0? Is it a consumer that is active online, making use of lots of technology to communicate with brands? Is it the next version of consumer, one that is empowered and doesn’t simply accept brand messaging at face value?

From my research, it seems to be a bit of both. Added to this, no matter whether your job title is a variation of marketer, advertiser or retailer, you’re also a consumer. You need to keep this in mind when putting together marketing collateral or advertising material – to put it bluntly, you are who you are selling to, so if the message is overly complex, your market is not going to be interested.

This reminds me of the advice Draftfcb’s associate creative director, Grant Sithole shared with me when I interviewed him for a recent COUP magazine article – don’t talk down to your audience and don’t come up with a funky new way of getting your message across if you are simply taking an existing message across to a new platform. He advised: “Go ahead and tell people about your product without trying to ‘cool it up’,” and added that marketers need to learn to talk to markets without trying to make the words more ‘funky’. People in townships engage with English media all the time, so don’t talk down to them. People see through that and think you are patronising them. If you’re simply taking your existing brand message onto Facebook, you aren’t necessarily reaching a new target market, so you should talk to them the same way you would talk to consumers through a print or TV ad. “The story of your brand shouldn’t change depending on the platform you’re on. Let people live the story of your brand through your advertising ... it doesn’t matter whether you want to advertise on the iPad, the eye-patch or the iPhone.”

Stand-up comedian, Warren Robertson, also emphasised this point. Instead of using baffling ‘why are you saying that’ language, advertisers should, “Speak ... in a way that means something. Sell to them using their language, don't try to flummox them with flashy ads, a dancing guy blowing a horn and a shouty catchprase. Your audience is a lot smarter than you think and if you don't actually understand them, they won't listen.”

As Sithole alluded to, this smarter audience or ‘consumer 2.0’ is definitely active online. We voice our opinions on HelloPeter, we join a brand’s tribe by following its brand messaging on Facebook and interacting with it on Twitter. Then it’s hardly groundbreaking and has been written about before, but still fascinating to me that the trust rate for word-of-mouth or ‘word of mouse’ recommendations from friends and family is staggeringly high – Nikita Achadinha of COUP tweeted a quote from Jason Stewart of HaveYouHeard from this week’s #MarketingIndaba that Millward Brown's research shows 86% of South African talk about brands among friends and family.

At ITWeb’s CRM2.0 Summit, Peter Cheales of mentioned that we operate in a ‘customer-centric’ world, and that if service providers don’t have a specific strategy to receive feedback from their consumers, their competitors are likely to come in and steal us away as products on the market become more identical, with level of service as the only differentiating factor.

This links to a comment Lindsey Kin made early last year in a blog she wrote about the i-consumer. The fact that we are so connected and now have a direct line to ‘speak’ to brands means we now expect immediate responses and instant satisfaction. Kin explained, “Digital mediums and the social media explosion, have provided the i-consumer with an extraordinary platform from which to share information; express themselves; and keep their life in order - now more than ever, this generation is online.”

So there you have it; we have evolved along with technology. What are your thoughts on marketing to today’s super-connected consumer? Share them on our blog.