In a participatory economy, everyone owns the means of production — factories, studios, and other businesses — and everyone is involved in making the decisions about how to use those businesses. Because of this setup, businesses and consumers have a very close relationship.
Although the concept has existed for years, it is becoming more prevalent as young Gen Xer’s, millennials, and Gen Z shoppers are changing the landscape of consumption.
In particular, shoppers are demanding increasing transparency from businesses. They want the companies they patronize to be open about their materials, processes, and practices. Contemporary shoppers have unprecedented access to information. They can research their shopping decisions in ways that previous generations couldn’t, and to attract these savvy shoppers, you have to be open in your practices. For example, if you sell food, you need to share where it comes from. If you make certain decisions to keep prices down, you may want to let your shoppers know why you make those choices. Consumers increasingly expect this information, and they are likely to give you more respect and business in exchange for your transparency.
Of course, sharing this information requires you to open the lines of communication, which is another key part of the participatory economy. Shoppers are no longer just passive recipients of marketing messages. They want to develop relationships with brands. To that end, they follow their favourite brands on social media, and they expect to be able to message them easily if they have a concern. Regardless of the size of your business, you should take advantage of these channels so you can reach your target market.
The participatory economy, which offers everyone a chance to participate in meaningful ways, is increasingly attractive to consumers. When you allow your customers meaningful participation of some kind in your business, you increase their engagement and sense of connection.