A couple weeks back, I wrote a post about the changing dynamic between consumers and brands.  It could be the pesky, tenacious “recession,” that won’t go away like socially-inept relatives after the holiday season, making consumers a bit more perceptive and sensitive in the pocket.  Additionally, it could be the popularity of social media platforms and daily usage by consumers within all business verticals.  Considering a number of major brands have pulled “180s” last year regarding major decisions due to the reception of its consumers, it could be a sign of the times.  Will 2012 be the year of the consumer?

Today, as usual, I got up with the sun and headed to a local coffee shop for some caffeine and the New York Times.  I’m a creature of habit; I know to have a five in hand.  Four goes toward the price of the paper and coffee, and I leave one for the baristas as a tip.  However, this morning the baristas got $.50.  Why?  The Times now charges an extra $.50 for its daily weekly.  This was unbeknownst to me, their consumer, avid reader, and loyal fanboy, who often links and mentions the brand in my posts.

As a consumer with social media options and a “virtual” voice, I reacted, tweeting to them regarding the near $20 ($2.50 each weekday plus $6 for Sunday’s edition) I must invest to peruse the Time’s pages each week.  I haven’t heard back, but I reckon I’m not the only consumer who took notice and took action.

Perhaps my personal sentiment is not salient enough to persuade the Times to reconsider, but as we saw in 2011, if enough people take action, a brand will take notice.

  • Recently, the Verizon brand issued news about a rise in fees, charging customers who pay bills online or by phone, an extra $2.  Consumers, along with federal regulators, voiced their disapproval; Verizon recanted the extra fee sentiment soon after.
  • I wrote a post last week about Go Daddy’s fickle nature regarding their stance on SOPA.  It doesn’t take a Sherlock Holmes’ level of perception to figure public perception had a hand in the brand’s stance on SOPA.
  • Let’s not forget the rollercoaster ride of fanfare the Netflix brand experienced after the summer season.  Due to public reaction, the brand did modify intentions of uniting its DVD-by-mail element with its Internet-streaming process, yet did not reconsider its rise in prices, and the public reacted.
  • In November, Bank of America took back a sentiment issued five weeks earlier regarding a to-be $5 price increase imposed on debit card users.  Consumers “no likey” price increases; therefore, brands must consider the reception of such things before making final arrangements.

Will my reactive sentiments save myself and other readers $.50 on the weekly Times?  Will open communication, facilitated by social media platforms and the availability of information sharing in real time, be a champion for consumers in times to come?  As a consumer, I hope so.  As an online marketing practitioner, I hope brands are taking notice of a growing trend and inextricable need to consider consumers in 2012.