The Democracy of Consumer-led Click Economy: Changing the Face of Numerous Industries a Million Clicks at a Time
In Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari explains how modern humans came to dominate Earth over the last 70,000 years. The single biggest reason humans succeeded in the proverbial and literal world dominance was neither due to their physical strength nor their (routinely misunderstood) large brains. Humans endured primarily because of their ability to cooperate and form complex networks with other humans. The cognitive revolution, the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution, and countless socio-political revolutions throughout history are master classes in human cooperation and networking.
Over the past 25 years, yet another revolution demonstrating the influence of human networks has shaped our modern world — the consumer-led click economy. Consumer clicks are reshaping industries such as agriculture, apparel, entertainment, travel, and finance. Even essential functions of society like government are under the influence (for example, the allegations against Facebook in recent political elections). Companies like Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Ali Baba, Baidu, Tik Tok, and Google employ highly regarded scholars, mathematicians, and psychoanalysts to help create engaging experiences powered by sophisticated algorithms and an intelligent mix of tangible and emotional incentives.
While the first two-and-a-half decades of the click economy focused on experience, convenience, and ease of competitive commerce for consumers, the next 25 years will undoubtedly witness new heights of innovation (check out Nike’s store of the future concept). However, there is increasing evidence that the complex human network is starting to shape a collective human agenda where sustainable and responsible production, sourcing, distribution, and consumption of consumer goods and services are taking center stage. Coldplay recently announced that its concerts will result in 50% fewer carbon emissions beginning in 2022, with hopes that the rhythmic thuds of fans’ thumping feet will generate energy. Delta Airlines announced that it would be carbon neutral over the next ten years. Tesla is considered the most valuable automaker in history, thanks to consumer clicks (and the sentiment behind them) that purchased Tesla cars and stock. AI/ ML, analytics, blockchain, and intelligent algorithms are helping companies create consumer-grade proof points, giving consumer power new meaning.
Humans have ruled the planet for 70,000 years. And are on their way to becoming modestly intra-planetary over the next 100 years. The ability to form complex networks and cooperate in societies is still very much part of being human. Today we forage for more than just food. We seek out opportunity, change, meaning, and purpose — even in our shopping. The seemingly small choices we make in the click economy will significantly influence our future.