Yes Consumer Engagement is all the rage these days. But its 15 minutes of fame is about to end. The painful truth is, consumers don't want engagement. I love Apple. But I don't want to engage with Apple. I want Apple to continue to produce wonderful, useful and cool tools/services for me to use. And I want them to keep the brand cool so I feel cool for using it. That's not engagement, that's good ole fashion smart business.
Consumers buy things today for the same reason they have always bought things -- to solve problems or make them feel better. Companies today need to spend a heck of a lot more time trying to understand what problems they can solve for consumers and less time trying to figure out new ways to interrupt them with irrelevant messages. And that extends to their marketing. Yes, marketing approaches can solve consumer problems too. We in the business just don't spend enough time thinking along those lines. We're too busy dreaming up ways to entertain them or interrupt them.
Success in the future will be based on deep, deep understanding of the consumer using traditional and non-traditional research techniques and then using that insight to create new products/services and yes, marketing approaches that all (product and marketing combined) contribute to the creation of a solution to a consumer problem.