Strategic Futurists; Value Systems Specialists

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I'm nominating 2016 as The International Year for Consumer Fightback

Friday 20 November 2015

Those of you that have been tracking this website for a while will know that towards the end of each year, I nominate the following year's area of focus. For instance I declared that 2015 would be the International Year of Battery Technology, and as the news stories, product research and renewables push shows, it was a pretty good call to make. So next year I'm sensing a driving focus on Consumers standing up to the rubbish service, faulty products and price gouging that's they've endured in many areas for too long

My thoughts are sharpened by a number of things that have occured of recent times, but also the rise in technology trends that enable consumers to talk to each other.

Right now you can go to Ripe Near Me and get an app that allows you to find fresh food (for free or even no cost). In this way consumers can fight back against the price gouging in some food stuffs and begin to reject their reliance on big box stores.  The rise of the Utilisation Economy which sees organisations like AirBnB and Lyft using spare capacity are other examples. Incidentally we are starting to see similar ideas forming in manufacturing and warehousing (watch this space!)

The rise of 3D Printing is about to give consumers control over how and where products are made. It won't be a cure all but it will give choice where little now exists.

But the 2016 International Year for Consumer Fightback is also driven by poor quality servicing and price gouging. In Australia the telecommunications sector continues to be beset by problems with the industry ombudsman flooded with complaints, and the banking sector (a recent target for class action law suit) is ripe for the picking with alternative financing and currency models currently undermining their existence (not that they are paying too much attention at the minute). Recent poor servicing with telecoms provider Vodafone saw me drop my business spend with them by over 300%.  And another player that picked up much of that business, Virgin Mobile, has proven to be a recent disaster despite me having had another service with them with no problems for over four years. In years gone by I'd have just put up with it, but now, with social media and emerging choices, I don't have to.  McDonalds recently ran a competition here in Australia, but if the condition to entry is not fulfilled (prize tickets not given out for products purchased), then the days of just putting up with it are no more and I can take my business elsewhere.

With Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and the like arming consumers in ways that didn't previously exist, in the 21C, hell hath no fury like a supporter scorned. This is targeted bottom line impact action that consumers now bring to the table.

And I'd expect to see the first class action lawsuit against Universities and For-Profit tertiary institutions for selling products that are not 'fit for purpose' - either poor content, substandard delivery or degrees for jobs that do not exist with knowledge that has no inherent value makes them a prize target for Consumers standing up where they may have once put up with it.

So I'm calling next year 2016 The International Year for Consumer Fightback


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