Sunday, April 15, 2012

Consumer Behavior Changes due to Technology.

Are there some "behavioral ecosystems" (driven by technology, or otherwise) and "contexts" that are simply "better" for human behavior? Are there "contexts" that "stretch" human behavior?

Executive Summary: A quick three pronged approach- a question to start us thinking about the impact technology has on the world we live in, a thought experiment to help us think through this impact, and then some quick thoughts as a check, and as an inflamatory contrast, to throw our own thinking in sharp relief. From the desk of Three-Pointers-Aren't-Just-All-Basketball.

The Question

A conversation with some bright digital media folks bubbled up this question: how has technology changed consumer behavior?

To each of us, the answer may be obvious, however, it is well worth stepping back and taking a moment to think through this as an exercise. This helps us become more aware of technology's impact on consumer behavior.

A Thought Experiment

Here is a visualization thought experiment, with apologies to the GEICO Caveman- The Neanderthal cave paintings were a "Gossip Girl" of the age.

Some Quick Answers

A wise, experienced response:
Within the framework of behavior in a country, nothing much has really changed. The context? As far back as the 80's and across the pond, folks were leveraging consumer analytics to sell financial products (Hats off, Ritesh).

Another view: Technology impact consumer behavior by 
  1. aggregating numerous individual decisions,
  2. making consumers aware of these aggregations, and,
  3. allowing game theory to have a field day via exchange of, or lack of exchange of, information.
The underlying theme across these points is the development of markets- either intra or inter country- and the development of context for human behavior.

I know, your first reaction here would be- do you really think Facebook, Twitter, and Groupon have not changed how we live? Sure, they have helped "cultures"/ "markets" evolve, by changing their context. However, have these forces of technology changed fundamental human behavior?

The Twist in The Tale

This leads a different line of thought:
  1. How is technology changing the context we live in?
  2. How does human behavior adapt to changed context?
  3. Are there really new contexts that have not existed before?
  4. Are there some contexts that are simply "better ecosystems" for human behavior than others?

What do you think?