META-MARKETS AND METAMEDIARS - THE SOURCE OF POTENTIAL SUCCESFULL BUSINESS MODELS
Abstract: The telecommunications equipments, the office equipments, the media and the computers were part of separate and distinct industries until the 1990s, offering different services with different delivery methods. But, as the computer has become a true “information provider'', the companies operates important changes in the market views, to take advantage of the emerging digital technologies and virtual reality. A meta-market is created when the cognitive associations between various logic-related activities, are physical reproduced on the market, optimizing the actions perception for the customers and giving him a unique experience.
technologies, metamarket, multimedia metamarket, metamediars.
Technological development characteristic of the XXI century has an overwhelming impact on lifestyle, consumption patterns and economic well-being of individuals worldwide. The effects of these unprecedented technological developments come to expand human horizons to the new century, through opportunities in all areas of activity.
Another consequence of the phenomenon of globalization has been the spreading on a large scale of new concept, namely the metamarket. In economic literature, the meta-market is defined as "a market based on the new form of communication - World Wide Web, centered around an event or an industry and not on a single product''. These are the markets of complementary products, which are closely interrelated in the minds of consumers, belonging to different sectors.
2. THE CONCEPT OF METAMARKET
This new instrument of communication and distribution - World Wide Web enables producers to obtain the convergence between ,,their own desire for economies of scale'' and the desires of consumers, linked by profusion and by the variety of products and services designed to meet a specific set of needs ( Yoffie, D.B,1997). For example, we can talk about a metamarket when the consumers are interested to purchasing goods and services which are designated to organize an event such as marriage ceremony, which includes services from advice on honeymoon, providing rings to the reception organization. Equally, we can speak of a meta-market also to the level of an industry or sector, such as chemical industry, where the producers can sell the excess of the production and identify the sources of new suppliers and new sales forces.
These types of markets are more easily to be identified and applied in the web, being able to provide a high level for the work efficiency and effectiveness. The global concept of meta-market is the result of the convergence process of three industries that were created at an interval of 50 years, such as telephony industry (1890), the television industry (1930) and industrial computers (1980).
The convergence describes a process of change in industrial structures, which combines the economic and the technological dimensions of markets with the need to satisfy the consumer needs. This process of change appears as being generated by the trend of substitution the products trough the competition and by merging products and services, but also as a result of the interference of these two patterns.
In this case the process of Convergence is defined as ,,a phenomenon through which independent sectors of activities come to be part of a broader structure, called meta-market''(Greeanstein, S., Khanna, T), the last one generating the effect of fusion.
A terminological clarification of this concept is absolutely necessary: this concept is based on the economic theory, which goes from the definitions of its components - sector, industry and market - using, in its approach, the analysis of three dimensions (Pagani, 2003). Thus, in accordance with a such terminology, the concept of ,,the sector'' is a structure characterized by the presence of all groups of customers (the first dimension), the presence of all necessary functions (the second dimension) and the presence of the same technology (the third dimension) .
In the limits of such taxonomy, the concept of industry expresses the vertical relations which can be developed between the different sectors of activities. The industry defines the globalization of the industry sectors on vertical dimension, from the production of the raw materials, to the processing of products which are designed for the intermediate or final consumption. In this context, we must specify an important aspect: the changes of the different levels of sectors represent the most important change in the business practices, with important implications on the dynamics of both industries, and on market structure.
Thus, based on the assumption that the term of the sector is interrelated with the evident trend of the supply structure uniformity, the definition of industry concept will cover the vertical integration of the production process. In this vein, the definition of the meta-market concept or complex market is increasing to include ,,the all competitive areas in which, those products considered to be substitutable, in terms of technology or use in similar situations, are required for the functions and the benefits that they produces'' (Shawhney, M).
Besides the general concept of meta-market, the literature brings to front another concept, namely the multimedia metamarket, generated by the progressive convergence process, which involves television, the information systems and telecommunications industry. It's seems that this new concept comes to represent a strategic area for the action of many companies.
The telecommunications equipments, the office equipments, the media and the computers were part of separate and distinct industries until the 1990s, offering different services with different delivery methods. But, as the computer has become a true ,,information provider'', the companies operates important changes in the market views, to take advantage of the emerging digital technologies and virtual reality.
The action field of these elements can be described through three main areas:
· the potential strategic segments identification (the end of devices);
· the identification of the functions which are required by the consumers ;
· the use of the alternative technologies to perform these functions.
From a specific marketing approach, nearest to the customer vision of the business practices, the concept of meta market consists ,,in a proposal or a variety of proposals, defined by reference to all elements (activities and services) which are included in the cognitive space of the client'' (Lambin, J.J., Chumpitaz, R, Schuiling, 2007). In other words, a meta-market is created when the cognitive associations between various logic-related activities, are physical reproduced on the market, optimizing the actions perception for the customers and giving him a unique experience.
The concept of metamarket comes from a simple idea, but profound insight: customers think about products and markets in a very different manner from the way in which products and markets are physically combined and placed on the market. In other words, consumers think in terms of activities, while firms thinking through the products and/or services. Activities that are logically linked in the cognitive space can be extremely widespread, as belonging to the various suppliers in the market. Metamarkets are thus cognitive clusters of related activities, found at customers who are committed to meet a set of distinct needs. They are markets in the customer's minds, the boundaries of these outlets being derived from the activities which are closely related into the cognitive structure of individuals, and not derived for the fact that they are created or associated by the companies from related industries.
At the consumer marketing level, the meta-markets can be created around major life events or around high value products of capital. Such events are: birth, education, career changes, retirement. Also, a fertile ground for the meta-market emergence is the capital goods: housing, car, financial, etc.
Among the essential conditions for the construction of metamarkets are:
· a whole range of related activities in the cognitive space. These activities should be important in terms of customer, in terms of time and economic impact;
· to perform these tasks, customers must be "confronted" with a diverse set of products and service providers, including a number of industries;
· an openness of the consumer, in terms of time and financial resources.
3. THE EMERGENCE OF THE METAMEDIARS MODEL
The concept of metamarket led logically to a new concept, that of the metamediars. It appears that this concept is in fact a variant of the original concept, more conventional, the infomediars.
Metamediars are neutral third-parties, which operates in the market in order to realignment it with cognitive space of the clients. Thus, metamediars make possible the existence of metamarket, integrating products and services into a coherent whole. They serve as a single point of contact between buyers and sellers, improving effectiveness and efficiency of trade. Metamediars are trusted advisors of the clients who need support to make better decisions for a heterogeneous group of activities. Unlike intermediaries metamediars represent suppliers of products and services, facilitates trade, but not participating in the actual transactions rates.
Metamediars allow distribution flows to be disaggregated, distributed through a number of specialist suppliers to the market, and then reassembled perfectly, taking the form of an integrated offer. These measures involve issues such as processes disintermediation and re-intermediation. Metamediars create and capture value by facilitating exchanges between customers and suppliers.
Fertile ground for the emergence of metamediars is linked to the existence of products with the following characteristics:
· complexity in the decision making process;
· a high informational content;
· requires a degree of effort for the customers as a result of the need to collect information from a variety of sources, usually fragmented;
· a combined form;
· characterized by inefficiency of the classical distribution channels and implying a disappointing experience in the retail purchase.
In the new digital era, market-oriented companies define their goal as creating a partnership with their clients to become "solutions providers", which involves the building of combinations of products and services. Internet technology makes this solution to become feasible.
Among the important benefits to the concept of meta-market are included:
· the concept is perfectly aligned to customer vision and thus can facilitate communication;
· income that is generated by a meta-market, is always higher than that generated by a discrete product-market.
· allows the company to provide a total solution for customers, building thus exclusiveness, loyalty and trust.
· helps to identify opportunities for growth in activities directly or indirectly related to basic services.
· helps identify indirect or potential competitors
Whatever the object of activity, the modern organization has multiple ways to approach the market and to achieve the objectives set, whether they are qualitative in nature (the reputation of the brand, the targets attachment to the brand) or that are quantitative (the increase of market share, sales, etc.).
Business models are implemented in order to support these efforts, but they require an adjustment in terms of sector of activity, the context in which they operate, and the specific internal objectives.
Such a model was proposed in 2000, by famous site NetZero, as a solution to the professionalizing of the market information's in based knowledge economy. The model, known as the model of the metamediars or informediars has, as a basic principle, the capture of market information and the dissemination to interested parties; this model propose, in a first phase, a simple registration of the firms in a portal, in order to obtain data that can be subsequently used to implement direct marketing approaches. In this way, the same site, NetZero, has succeeded to gather information from more than more than 8 million consumers, offering in return a 40 hours free Internet access.
By using the elements from the practice, the literature has tried to define this new concept. Thus, in a work entitled ,,The Network is the Infomediary. Shaping Markets When Customers Make the Rules'', two American authors, John Hagel and Mark Singer, defined the informediars as being ,,those companies that manage the information obtained from customers in the benefit of the customers'''. Unlike the knowledge level offered by the practice, the two authors bring an extremely important difference between infomediars and the direct marketing companies - the infomediars are protective agents of consumer privacy.
In the same direction, Audrey Knauf, in a suggestive article called ,,The Role of Infomediary in an economic intelligence process''' defined the infomediars trough the terminology of the concept. According to this author, the term of infomediars represent a concept formed by the merger of two elements - information and intermediary. (Knauf, A., David, A). The term indicates, according to the author, ,,the source of information which, starting from the information given by customers, generate links in a system consisting from organizations which are interested in such data''.
Despite the fact that the concept definition is not stabilized, as approach, in the scientific community there are many critical opinion by the nature of infomedairs - person, organization or portal; but, we can talk about the development assumptions of this concept, namely the consumer behavior in relation to current marketing activities.
As we can see from the figure the services that informediars provides can be grouped in four categories, such as: filtering and selection services for the products offered by vendors, type agent services, selling services and management services and data analysis.
Selection and filtering services refers to the identification and selection of marketing intrusive or unwanted products and services messages that are addressed to the customers. In this case, the infomediars developed a filter which evaluates commercial e-mails, and exclude automatically that spam that does not tally with the needs or the preferences of consumers. This service supposes that the customers specify, initially, what categories of products or vendors wishes to be included or excluded in the filtering services.
If filtering services are addressed to the need for privacy of consumer, the agent type service addresses to the need to overcome the difficulties arising from exposure to a consistent and varied offer, especially formed from complex products. As found in practice, consumers tend to bear increasingly costs generated by the search for the appropriate product. Those services have the scope of reducing the costs of such interactions, helping consumers to optimize the identification and selection of products.
The infomediars may also provide sales service; in other words, they can sell to customers the availability to receive marketing messages from the suppliers. The infomediars send to clients those marketing messages that match the format profile.
The last category of services offered by infomediars is that of creating and delivery different reports, which summarize the consumer's transactions and other activities in the network. Such analysis will help consumers to improve efficiency and effectiveness in areas like: financial budget, time management and expense accounts management. The condition for providing such services is to create profound and complex suppliers profiles.
From the perspective of all these aspects, the infomediars trigger a fruitful cycle: the more sellers are willing to provide value to consumers, the bigger will be the availability to provide access to personal information. The infomediars addresses to an unsatisfied needs of consumers, providing also value for the various categories of suppliers.
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· Hagel, J., Singer, M., (1999): Net Worth: Shaping Markets when Customers Make the Rules, Harvard Business Press, 1999, 313 pg.
· Knauf, A., David, A., (2007): The Role of infomediary in an economic intelligence process, http://hal.inria.fr/docs/00/05/22/13/DOC/SCI04-1.doc.
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