Since the dawn of consumerism, filters have been influencing buyers' purchasing decisions by narrowing buyer options to simplify the process of choosing a product or a service from a pool of choices.
Because choices were limited back in the day, filters occurred rather naturally. For instance, if you wanted a candy bar, you simply had to walk to the corner store and pay a nickel for a Mars or a Hershey bar because those were the only options available. Sufficed to say, industries were novel, competition was scarce, and consumer preferences were defined by sparse variety, technological and geographic boundaries.
The Rise of Filters
As the market gradually evolved, filters became necessary because too many choices saturated the consumer radar, making it difficult for decision-makers to make a selection and brands to stand out in the market. Take the radio, for example, which became a filter for the infinite number of artists, bands, and songs available to listeners. In the process of managing which songs audiences were exposed to listen to, radio shaped the music industry and continues to do so by influencing audience preference.
Today, consumers thrive in the world's largest global economy, fueled by an endless variety of products and services, international trade, and eCommerce via the World Wide Web. Choices are infinite and unrestricted; product manufacturers and service providers are ubiquitous, and buyers have grown dependent on filters to make timely, and sensible acquisitions of products and services.
The Future of Filters
As the market gets more and more saturated, and consumers are constantly bombarded by a multitude of choices, it is safe to assume that you can only expect more filtering to come soon. The steady rise of demand for filters can be attributed to a cascade of trends, like mobile technology -- adopted by the vast majority of Americans, and has entirely altered the pace action, reaction, and correspondence of consumers worldwide. From checking emails to calling cabs, accessing weather reports or locating the nearest five-star restaurant; today's consumer expects fast and reliable answers to narrow selections and simplify decision-making.
Likewise, eCommerce has completely eradicated the geographical boundaries that once limited choice. Now, purchases can be made from anywhere in the world. Consumers require some type of organization for limitless availability of options and as a direct reaction, industry filters continue to climb.
Search engines act as the ultimate filter, providing online consumers with a ranking system for the products and services they seek. But as a neutral party to all industries, there still exists a demand for more hyper-specific filters. With this in mind I encourage you to ask yourself:
Who's telling your customers what they need, or when they need it?
If the answer is unclear, perhaps your industry does not yet have an effective filter. Maybe the filters don't exist yet. This is your opportunity to be at the forefront and create it.
Simply put: He who controls the filter, controls the future of their industry.
Image Credit: riekhavoc