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How e-commerce changes the relationship

Tobias Phleps


Brand Union




Kathleen Ix

Senior Innovation Manager

Brand Union



In the last few years, the word “consumer” has become something of a swear word. People no longer wanted to identify themselves with a term that is associated with inactivity and reactivity. Marketing has reacted to this paradigm shift by embracing participation and two-way communication. Today, brands willingly interact with their customers eye-to-eye via a range of direct communication channels.

But with big data and automated purchase recommendations – and even automated buying processes – this relationship again seems to be in jeopardy. In order to enjoy a new dimension of shopping comfort, consumers are apparently abandoning aspects of their newly gained independence and autonomy. They are willing to share their personal data in exchange for saving time.

But do we really see a win-win situation for both customers and suppliers, or is man increasingly subject to invisible economic and technological mechanisms? And how can more maturity in online shopping be achieved, if indeed that is what we desire?

In the first instance, there should certainly be more information and transparency about the invisible mechanisms at work. As the German philosopher Immanuel Kant so rightly said: "Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity."