It took the telephone 45 years to penetrate half the homes in America; radio, less than 20; color TV, 15; computers, 10; cellphones, eight; and the internet, a mere six years. The speed of change is accelerating. Five years ago Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Hulu and the iPhone didn’t exist. Today Facebook has 350 million members; Twitter boasts 30 million; and Hulu is the second biggest “channel” in America, having surpassed Time Warner Cable. Technology now has profound impact on consumer behavior. Take brand loyalty, for example. Smartphones enable consumers to comparison shop on the basis of price at the point of sale. The democratization of information may result in commoditization of brands as consumers make purchase decisions by searching for the lowest-priced product. Technology may also alter the purchase cycle and give rise to powerful third-party influencers, counterbalancing paid media’s “management” of the purchase cycle. These are transformational shifts for brands.
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