Purpose – This paper aims to look back at Michael Thomas' 1999 thesis regarding the impact on marketing of the information age. In his view, the information revolution of “e‐commerce” and computer‐mediated markets removes distance as a barrier between buyer and sellers, which could empower or exclude consumers. This paper re‐considers Thomas' assessment and explores how the IT revolution has transformed, or not, relations between consumers and other “actors” in the marketplace. Design/methodology/approach – This is conceptual paper that draws on literature and secondary sources to explore and evaluate the topic. Findings – The dynamic and intertwined effects of any technology are notoriously difficult to determine and therefore the goal of this paper is to identify the empowering or exclusionary effects of IT on marketing is shown to be an ambitious one. On the basis of this review, we can conclude however that Thomas was correct in anticipating in 1999 that more and more of marketing interactions would become computer‐based. Its precise effects however are less clear. On the one hand, there are both elements of empowerment as well as exclusionary effects that have followed, but on the other hand, neither the direction of the trend, nor the precise nature of the effects, is clear as yet. Research limitations/implications – One implication relates to research on internet communications which has highlighted the potential freedom of access and social anonymity that the internet provides. For example, some researchers have emphasised potential of cyberspace and identity‐play as escape routes from the physical, social and cultural constrictions of gender. However, other research indicates that, as with other technologies, the internet is embedded in social structures and cultural processes that can never be neutral. Originality/value – This paper provides a review of relevant literature and empirical research. It identifies and evaluates four types of effects that IT has on marketing and consumers and considers the extent to which these have been empowering or exclusionary.
Marketing Intelligence & Planning – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 8, 2011
Keywords: Communication technologies; Electronic commerce; Consumer behaviour; Marketing; Empowerment
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