Market Revolution or Revolution vs Market? part I

Recent events in global economy and politics make us think about the ways consumption, production and communications are rapidly changing the old ideas of buying and selling.

Corporations and companies seem to be in the task to think again and act in new ways, finding new ways to get in touch with massive amounts of  consumers and users, that rapidly change their attitudes and approach, towards products and services in the market.

Every change brings more changes and I am truly happy to witness this. It creates a particular state of mind where rigid structures see the need for renovation abandoning part of their established safe zones. In a word,  we are all allowing ourselves to evolve a little.

Rethinking the sense, goals and methods to connect with audiences, will probably provide the basis for deep changes in society as in markets. Some markets becoming more user oriented and other just turning more wild and tough. Production of goods and services has overwhelmed users and a loss of interest in  accumulation has started growing when people found themselves surrounded by more offers than their capability of consumption or even needs.

Abundance of goods and over production made corporations earn so much that a polarization of economic power has grown at the point of making them more powerful than many countries and regions, giving them politic influence and the possibility of changing and creating law.

At the same time the relevance of information technology has given users and consumers the power to network, criticize, oppose and gather to question their own governance, market, society and beliefs. An important awareness about social and environmental tragedies has changed the mindset for many customers who day by day get more information from multiple sources that help them make their shopping decisions. But these information also influence, political and ideological decisions when citizens feel themselves empowered, vulnerable, disappointed or betrayed by their own leaders.

The powerful internet  consumer and the vulnerable citizen + Access vs property (for everyone?) in the next post.

A peek into the Future: Countries becoming Brands and Companies becoming Nations

What type of Nation do you think Apple, Microsoft, Unilever or Sony Corporation would be?

¿What type of Nation do you think Apple, Microsoft, Unilever or Sony Corporation would be?

That is a question that first came to my mind back in 2004, when I visited the Redmond WA area close to Seattle, where Microsoft Corporation owns its headquarters and long extensions of land. There, hundreds of mini-mansions for MS Executives decorate a Swedish-wanna-be-landscape. Was that a Microsoft country? maybe not, but that is how it felt while talking to people, driving the highway and exploring the suburbs. A particular kind of identity, lifestyle and behavioral agreements, very close to the Microsoft corporate image.

Maybe it is corporate identity that goes beyond the company, into people lives.

As it all sounds like science fiction, we should examine some realities. I guess it all started in 1955 with Main Street USA in Disneyland (The Happiest Place on Earth) where a typical American village was fully reproduced under the company parameters of Disney imagery. Then came Epcot Center, a vision of the existing world (third world excluded) from the Disney point of view, that featured the most touristic and iconic landmarks from an American perspective.

Main Street USA
Main Street USA

Back in the 70´s, the world was politically divided in Communism and Capitalism basically. After the coldwar and during the late 80´s the Perestroika, the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the political and economic changes in communist countries created an ideological change globally. People started changing their political beliefs and their affiliations changed to more private ones.

During the 90´, companies developed strong efforts towards positioning their

values transmitted via branding
values transmitted via branding
brands becoming economically and symbolically powerful; generating values, lifestyles, followers, collectors of memorabilia, urban tribes and radical beliefs in a global scale. Notions of culture, nation, country and culture mutate and people start believing in branded values, media promoted lifestyles and marketing designed ideologies.

Local, national and regional governments joined forces with the tourism industry to promote specific destinations, immigration, foreign investment and position economic value for countries and cities. That way, places like New York, Mexico, Barcelona and Berlin created whole new brands from their name, supported by local and global investors. Let´s think of Sex and the City, Barcelona Olympic Games, The fall of the Berlin Wall, or the FIFA World Cup as tools for touristic promotion and region branding transmitting values and beliefs, music, visual patterns, food and celebrations that make people come together and identify themselves with these parameters as their ways of expression.

Strong Marketing campaigns about certain regions, countries and cities at the same time that sold destinations, encouraged regionalism, nationalism and local pride. The impact of branding in this sense is double sided, and creates apart from consumption, social transformations followed by strong feelings about the branded place. Something close to the impact of corporate values among company sex_and_the_city_movie-6049employees and consumers.

So, where does the notion of national culture and product branding cross paths? a possible answer may be found if we ask people where do they belong? Do you feel Spanish, American or Mac user? What defines me the most? My place of residence or my habits? All these questions currently float inside a lot of people´s minds.

The Power of Mutinational Companies to provide services, products and messages to fill people needs has taken them to a position, where their speech may be stronger than politics, culture and the participation of civil society. Most of them have the power to influence law, politics, culture, governance and development in any country to the point of becoming providers of basic services covering people´s fundamental rights like water, electricity, food, health, communications, housing, education, retirement and security.

So, when only companies can provide people with most of the things half of the countries in the world can´t provide, ¿What is left of the notion of Nation? ¿What is the role of nations and governments in the new world order? pho_bg_vans¿What is left of civil rights when they enter the marketplace?

So here is my question again

¿What type of Nation do you think Apple, Microsoft, Unilever or Sony Corporation would be?