This week in a focus group, a consumer respondent said something like this to me:
"Your client needs to fire their current agency and hire some young marketers with fresh ideas that will re-energize their brand for launch in a new market. The stuff you are showing us is dated and will never give them the lift they need."
This is certainly not the first time I have heard such sentiments expressed by people who are considered to be average consumers in some sense (we try not to invite marketing professionals, advertising people, competitors, journalists, and actors as a matter of routine).
I've had people advise me on appropriate positioning for a brand in the context of consumer research. And positioning -- let's be honest here -- is marketing-speak.
Consumers are so much tuned in to the marketing process that they want to give advice to the organization. Their advice may not be good advice, that's not the point here. The point is that they feel like stakeholders in the marketing process, not passive responders.
This trend is becoming more pervasive all the time from what I can see.
It's like the curtain on the Wizard of Oz of marketing is now open, exposing the insides. But instead of being fussed about losing the illusion, consumers are saying, "hey, you should have a social media site" or "why not make the illusion friendlier" or "reposition yourself as a sage, not an ogre", or "update that upholstery, it's hideous".