Consumer Forum Day Two Wrap-Up

Back in the office and a little tardy with my Consumer Forum wrap-up. I met with another half-dozen execs who pretty much confirmed some of my observations from the day before. I am still rather amazed how little economy-obsessing went on at the event. Are we wearing blinders, or is digital really more insulated? Better subscribe to Forrester Downturn Alerts to be safe.

Day 2 featured the second annual Groundswell awards for social applications. Note that not all the winners were huge companies with massive resources: the Brooklyn Museum and a credit union from Alberta are right next to Starbucks and Mattel. At the risk of repetition, the ROI metrics still seem more compelling for customer service than for objectives earlier in the marketing funnel.

Highlights from the executive keynotes included Citi Brands CMO Debra Coughlin observing that, with four commoditized credit cards in every wallet, it's all the more critical for Citi to succeed at multichannel consumer communications. Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping author Paco Underhill charmed the audience and noted that during economic crises, consumers say they're more time-poor than money-poor.

He also riffed a bit on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, a topic that came up in two Forrester presos. James McQuivey argued on Day 1 -- compellingly -- that consumer technology needs must be addressed in parallel, rather than in a linear progression. He's got a survey in the field testing his hypothesis and framework that I'm eager to see more of. Lisa Bradner counterpuncheded a little with thoughts on a more traditional approach for marketing more traditional products (a new set of the four P's, anyone?).

Check out the Forrester presentations here.