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The Empowered Consumer?

Marcie Sillman
11/08/2010 at 9:00 a.m.

Any marketing guru will tell you that we live in the age of the empowered consumer. Companies that want to stay in business have to engage with their customers online. They must be open to feedback from the public and offer personalized products to meet niche needs. Shoppers want to customize everything they buy, from tennis shoes to fast food, and smart businesses will let them do it. But is all this talk of empowerment just that — talk? How much power do we really have when we're dealing with huge companies like Nike and Burger King?


Mark Forehand is a professor of marketing at the University of Washington's School of Business.

Rob Walker writes the "Consumed" column for the New York Times Magazine. He's author of "Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are." He joins us from his home office in Savannah, Georgia.

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