Customers share information in different ways.
Think about Judy, the 59 year old catalog veteran. She shared by passing her catalog to a friend. Remember, back in the day, when you allocated passaround to existing segments? Something like 10% to 15% of demand was uncoded, added back to existing segments. I'm not talking about 2012 analysis aided by matchbacks, FYI ... I'm talking about 1994, when pre-internet attribution was easy. We knew that 10% to 15% of demand came from customers sharing our catalogs with each other. Judy mastered the art of "analog sharing".
Think about Jennifer, the 43 year old online maven. Her habits were formed in the 1995-2005 timeframe (when she was 26-36 years old). Digital sharing was more difficult than today ... email + search + instant messaging, for instance. Yes, there were social networks blah blah blah, but sharing was hard, causing Jennifer to have to "search". Google was the tool Jennifer used for discovery, Google facilitated the first generation of digital sharing.
Digital sharing changed with Jasmine, the 27 year old shopper who likely will determine the future. Via a veritable plethora of social networks, Jasmine closely follows sharing practices embraced by Judy. Now, the technologies used to share are very different ... Judy via catalog passaround, Jasmine via Facebook, Twitter and others (analog vs. digital). Judy created a physical scrapbook, Jasmine creates via Pinterest (and yes, I get it, there are folks like Judy using Pinterest, but you miss the point if you call out the twenty-eight exceptions). The behaviors are, honestly, very similar ... the methods of sharing couldn't be more opposite.
Back to you, the Executive reading this blog.
We've gone from making things shareable via paper, to making things shareable via Google, to making things shareable via social media.
In part, we pick and choose who our customers will be based on our choice of sharing mechanism. Knowing that old-school sharing accounted for 10% to 15% of total annual sales, maybe we now have a starting point for thinking about what the impact of social media might actually be, among Jasmine's generation?