Consumer Markets, Social Media and Technology


Consumers have been flocking to the internet to satisfy their needs and the numbers grow every passing day. From social interaction to paying utility bills and online banking, the internet has made it convenient for all kinds of tasks. It has also become possible to purchase virtually anything, from anywhere in the world. Hence, it should come as no surprise that virtual marketplaces have popped up like wild mushrooms, populating the cyberworld. We live in a world of consumerism, after all.

Corporate giants such as Amazon make up 36% in the world of e-commerce. However, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, e-commerce is still in its infancy, holding only 9.1% of overall retail sales. This puts potential competitors at a rather fair playing field, as Shopify wrote, “fast growth plus low market share means that there is still enormous opportunity for new players to outpace industry leaders”.

It would be foolish to assume that brick and mortar shops will not be affected in the long run and that there is no need to go mobile. The keyword being ‘mobile’ and not ‘online’ because being online is not good enough; as the world becomes easier to navigate, people want instant results with zero hassle. This means that instead of just having a mediocre website, it should be responsive and compatible on all devices. It should also be kept up to date, with a coherent purchasing system which loads quickly and efficiently.

Apps were thought to be just as – if not more – important as websites, but that belief has slowly died with the realization that consumers do not what to clutter their smartphones or gadgets with frivolous apps. If there is a more effective way of doing something, it would seem redundant to go about it the long way. Why would one choose to download an app to purchase something when it could be easily made available through an existing app such as Google Chrome or Safari?

However, e-commerce is fluid and has much room for expansion and improvement; Sephora has long introduced a new method of shopping online: by allowing consumers try on their products without leaving the comfort of their homes or the hassle of visiting a store. It is all done through an app. This app trumps other store-related apps primarily due to the fact that it removes traveling for individuals who intend to swatch makeup against their skin tone, and is therefore held in higher regard.

Another budding niche market in e-commerce are bidding fee auctions. These online auction houses give consumers a chance to bring home a brand new gadget at dirt cheap prices – provided that they win the bidding war, of course. Unlike the auctions run on Ebay, there is no time limit on the auctions and it would continue refreshing with every bid placed and bidding is controlled through a bidding fee, hence the name.

While some may call it a form of gambling whereby the house always wins, there must be some reason that they have remained in existence for almost a decade. Entertainment value cannot be deducted when it comes to marketing a product. Penny auction sites may seem like a marketing ploy to win at capitalism, but so is unique packaging or seemingly special designs.

Take into consideration the current fad with unicorns: if it sparkles or is pastel-colored, it will sell. An article by Vox blames social media and millennials for allowing the fad to go on for as long as it has, but there is only one thing to be gleaned from what they are trying to say: communities revolving around consumerism are not to be overlooked.

There is power in the masses, a universal truth, one which needs no argument. These magical horned ponies are nothing more than childhood nostalgia of millennials which happens to serve an aesthetic purpose and is therefore, extremely consumer-friendly.

Another point to bear in mind is that the internet has provided a rich platform for various individuals to create their brand and become influencers in their own right, many travel bloggers or beauty gurus on Youtube are scrambling to become brand ambassadors or start their own line of products as Michelle Phan, one of the most prominent pioneers in makeup on Youtube, had. The power from influences come from the masses as people are more prone to trusting those that they relate to.

Even before the rise of social media and influencers, audiences sought recommendations through ads depicting their favorite celebrities and Oprah Winfrey was one of the most powerful influence of that era because she was relatable and authentic.

From dynamic, username-remembering websites and carefully curated collection that appeal to each individual’s tastes to larger than life personalities that consumers try to emulate, e-commerce is both whimsical and incredibly realistic. People will go out of their way to purchase something that they are determined that they “can’t live without” and yet, expect normal everyday things to be handed to them on a silver platter, preferably delivered by a drone.

Although, one thing is certain, commerce is becoming increasingly consumer-centric. It has become a circle of consumers creating for other consumers, a marketplace of user-generated wares. However, to keep one’s head above the water and ahead of the crowd, innovation and new technologies will lead the way.

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