Consumers are bored.
We don’t have to look far to see it. From the blithe snatch of promotional iced coffee during morning rush hour (without so much as a tweet of thanks), to the all-pervading eye-roll at the latest branded app; being part of the audience - the asinine applause at the latest brand innovation - has worn rather thin over recent years.
Once there was a time when a free lunch would be enough to satisfy the consuming classes; as would it be to sit through a theatre act with - gasp - other people and - double gasp - not be asked to participate.
The success of You Me Bum Bum Train - the show in which you are both (sole) audience and star - in spite of its ridiculous name is a fantastic example of the growing need among consumers to leave their seats and join in the action.
Meanwhile in Adland, brands are having to work harder than ever to engage this modern consumer.
They are the heroes of their own story and - thanks to technology - they have many different stories and many different audiences of their own.
They are the connected protagonists; complex characters, difficult to read. Traditional segmentation models are no longer effective.
What is increasingly clear is that they seek empowerment; empowerment to participate and empowerment to make better choices.
The only way to achieve true buy-in from the connected protagonist is to co-create with them; involve them in the journey.
We are beginning to see the way. Co-creation is undoubtedly one of the most fashionable ideas to enter our repertoire for a long time but, despite its rise to power in the marketing world, it is controversial and often misunderstood.
Effective co-creation is not about ‘crowdsourcing’. It is about harnessing the right people, whether they are consumers, partners or specialists to create authentic social currency, which will connect with people across a wide variety of channels.
It should be about creating content not just for, but with the modern consumer.
Throughout history, from the momentous task of erecting Stonehenge to the challenges of the industrial revolution, life’s greatest achievements have always stemmed from co-creation and participation. Brands need to learn from this.
Begin with the consumer and engagement will largely look after itself.