THE AGE OF CONSUMER PARTICIPATION
Daniel Pink's insightful book, A Whole New Mind, Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future, explains that after years of extraordinary prosperity, the United States has in many ways become a society of overabundance, in what has been termed America's “affluenza.”1 Simply put, many people just have too much stuff. Pink cites the explosive growth of the self-storage industry as evidence of this over-abundance. The self-storage business in the United States is a US$23 billion industry today, with over 52,000 storage locations across the country.2 This entire industry was created to support a society that has too much stuff, and no place to put it all.
Shipping Point: “Consumer participation and social networking are becoming embedded in the consumer retail experience.”
Pink argues that in this society of overabundance, people have now become bored with having more than enough. As a result, people now search for meaning in their lives, in their work, and in what they purchase. Pink says that for today's consumer, “it is no longer enough to create a product that is reasonably priced and adequately functional. It must also be beautiful, unique and meaningful.”3
Along with people's search for meaning in the things they buy, there is now increasing demand by consumers to be part of the design and functionality of the products they purchase. We call this activity “consumer-enabled design.” As consumer participation and social ...