THE BLOG

20 Incredible, Extraordinary and Unbelievable Things You Never Knew About The Queen

05/02/2014 11:19 GMT | Updated 06/04/2014 10:59 BST

Spoiler Alert. I know as much, or as little, about Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as you do.

Sorry guys.

But your interest was piqued, wasn't it? Maybe just a little?

That's how it works now. We are fed lists to keep us informed as quickly as possible.

We take our information in byte-sized chunks because it would be impossible to edit and consume everything that is available to know on the Internet.

Once lists were useful digests of the year, or a sales barometer of what people were reading or buying.

Now they are a ubiquitous form of information, cataloging our interests into neat inventories.

Business Insider's 10 Things You Need To Know Before The Opening Bell is a standard, regular digest. It sounds business-like. It's the answer to a question you might expect a Wall St. CEO to put to an Ivy League intern: "Quickly, 10 things I need to know before the Opening Bell".

Such lists bedevil LinkedIn. Even as I write, Harvard's Chief Digital Officer gives her "10 Digital Best Practices".

These are supplemented by myriad lists appearing hourly across the Internet. "20 Things You Didn't Know About Pope Frances" and "15 Things You Didn't Know About Megan Fox". Nothing is sacred. Any one and any thing can be codified.

Lists suggest that information comes neatly packaged in bunches of nicely rounded numbers. They don't allow for "exceptions to the rule"; (OK, there will be a "10 Exceptions To The Rule That Lists Don't Allow For Exceptions" list any day now).

They also don't immediately assume we care about the authenticity of the list. Who is doing the compiling? And why do we believe them?

If Her Majesty wrote a public letter proclaiming the "The 8 World Leaders I Hate Most And Why", that would be interesting. It would be an experienced view and a considered list.

This "listmania" exposes a wider and more important issue for marketers.

Socially we are creating our own worlds and in so doing are creating an "atomocracy" (see: Implosion), a personalised government of one. A company of one shareholder; a movement of one; an indivisible, individualistic culture, with its own views on matters of law, liberties, state and religion, fed by, amongst other things, "the lists".

Economically we are creating the "me-conomy". This is not another glib name for a consumer-centric market place. The Age of the Customer has been slowly, but surely, forming over many years and now, with the advent of sophisticated online tools, it is ready to take a dominant role.

In this emerging me-conomy, lists are business memos to customers who increasingly behave more like business people, than "consumers". The lists fulfill an important role. They are reviews from fellow-purchasers, they are easily accessed expert opinions, and they are simple to read maps in a convoluted, evolving and growing network of purchasing opportunities.

Consumers are expert purchasers, taking what they need from where they like. They serve themselves first, before brand loyalty and convenience. (For more on this see the work, over the years, of Reinartz and Kumar; and, more recently, Simonson and Rosen.)

We used to talk of "the promiscuous consumer", jumping around from one store to another as prices and offers change. Now I feel that is inappropriate.

Customers are jumping around for two main reasons.

First, with the Internet, there are more outlets to choose from than ever before. Its not promiscuity when Choice lines up at your door.

Secondly, there are more places to go to seek advice and approval. Analysing your options feels less like promiscuity and more like professionalism.

Lists are a harbinger of the merging of B2B and B2C terminology and strategy.

Marketers who talk to their customers as if they were professionals and not unwitting lovers of brands will do well.