Busy week here in San Francisco: between Web 2.0 Summit, Twtrcon, Amplify, and the launch of Kicklabs you would think the dot com era was here again yet what’s different this time is what start-ups are focusing on: consumers. Whether it is a new way to create temporary networks, find a couch to sleep on or improve how companies interact with consumers, the new area of the web is looking at how consumers can interact with each other and how the overall experience, across industries, can be managed better.
To add some relativity in 2007 it was found that almost all consumers used the web for buying decisions, last week a study revealed that over half of U.S consumers are expected to use mobile devices for holiday shopping. Currently its estimated that more than one in three U.S consumers have downloaded mobile apps and38% of Americans use social networks to engage with brands; 63% to be exact were motivated to engage simply to become more aware of a company.
The Federal Reserve showed that consumer debt was declining in Q3 for the year which can only mean that consumers are not only spending less but spending wiser while reducing debts. “Consumer debt is declining but only part of the reduction is attributable to defaults and charge-offs,” said Donghoon Lee, senior economist in the Research and Statistics Group at the New York Fed. “Americans are borrowing less and paying off more debt than in the recent past. This change, which we continue to study carefully, can be a result of both tightening credit standards and voluntary changes in saving behavior.”
These changes in saving behavior can be attributed to multiple factors, however part of it can be attributed to today’s consumer being more aware than the dot era consumer. Just three years ago today Facebook had 30 million users, today Facebook is estimated to have over 500 million active users and U.S. consumers are estimated to spend 28 percent of their media time online. What does it all means? We are spending more time online, shopping less and becoming more picky.
If data is any indication we have a couple more years of hardwork to dig us out of several economic holes, but unlike the last bubble burst- the internet is going to pull us out of this one. With programs online to help budgeting, help pool funds and even help crowdsource political thoughts consumers will be smarter this go around. Will consumers get a bail-out like many banks did this year? Probably not, though businesses will increasingly have to work for every dollar they get so what is better a bail-out or an economy that is actually focused on delivering high quality service and products at reasonable rates? Maybe capitalism is swinging in natural favor for the consumer and its well overdue.