ONE – A Consumer Revolution for Business

Sylvia Keyes (Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater, Massachusetts, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 27 June 2008




Keyes, S. (2008), "ONE – A Consumer Revolution for Business", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 25 No. 4, pp. 264-265.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Of the many books I have reviewed over the past years, this turned out to be the easiest reading. At the same time, it took me an extraordinarily long time to read ONE because I had to ponder every creative idea that Mr Engeseth suggested. I immediately had arguments against everything he wrote and yet, by reading and rereading, I remained both flexible and, in many cases accepting.

Mr Engeseth really redefines the marketing concept as I have been defining it to students over the past many years. The definition I put forth, originating from most of the experts says, “We meet the needs of the consumer, given the goals of the organization, with a systems, or systematic, approach.” So, for the first couple of parts of the book, I believed the author was going along with the routine concept that the customer is the focal point.

Then he began to proliferate ideas that went far beyond the marketing concept. I believe he might now posit the marketing concept thus: “We meet the needs of the consumer, given the goals of the consumer, by systematically bringing the consumer into our organization.” To implement Engeseth's many ideas, the customer continues not only to be “king,” but he/she also becomes a part of the organization, with that organization welcoming the customers' internal presence, implementing his/her ideas, and providing the customer with brand power. There is no “we/they” structure any longer; instead, the walls come down and all are ONE. On page 98, his model shows that he really recommends tearing down walls between the company and consumers.

With every creative solution Engeseth offers, I inwardly wrestled, wondering how it is possible, for example, to permit the customer into the company. I personally worked for at least three corporations, each in different industries, which required me to sign papers when I joined them that said anything I invented became their property. Moreover, these companies did not even permit employees to accept calls and/or respond to consumer correspondence. All such communication went immediately to the corporate attorneys. But, as I wrestled and began to argue the concepts, the author immediately realized readers would have such concerns and answered the concern before I turned more than two pages. This alleviation of my issues continued right through to the end of the book as the creativity accelerated and proliferated! I was becoming almost “angry” with the author, when he wrote on pages 141‐143 that travel could become much more commonplace through house swapping at a high level, making it less costly than using hotels. My thoughts were whether this man trying to kill the hotel industry when he states, on page 142, “Hotels are expensive and impersonal.” My upset lasted only to the point where the author states, “When this concept takes off, there will be a lot of competition from established hotels … ” (p. 144).

The book has five parts rather than chapters. The first part tells what ONE is; how ONE works; ONE to the corporate DNA; start using ONE (which I plan to do!); and spreading ONE. Within these five parts, the author brings to light ideas and sayings that seem right on target.

Throughout the book, Engeseth inserts thought‐provoking questions, as though the reader is studying a text. He writes: “Question: What visible symbols can your customers carry and develop for your company? The Harley front wheel fork is a classic case of how customers have helped to develop a product. What is the corresponding product for your company?” (p. 5). He asks, “What is your favorite convertible? Are there other markets in need of a signal flare for singles? Travel, real estate, career?” (p. 154).

There are many adages with examples of good and bad practices. There is threat of punishment to major internet companies that do not accept and give accolades to consumers for ideas. He warns that “Moving the boundary between company and customer is a first step to dissolving it completely” (p. 86).

“Becoming ONE is part of maturing as a company … ” He goes on about Coca Cola and the strong brand image that saved it. “…who actually owns the brand – the customers or the company? A brand cannot exist without customers, yet a brand can live indefinitely without a company” (p. 129). Engeseth agrees there might be a smattering of truth when marketing people say customers do not know what they want. He backfires by saying “one thing is for certain – consumers certainly know what they don't want” (p. 131).

A litany of ideas multiplies through the many pages. In part 4, “ONE to the corporate DNA,” Engeseth says, “So many companies have gone from wild men cultures to ‘by the book.’ The only problem with ‘by the book’ is that so few new books get written” (p. 116). Here I conclude that I am certainly appreciative of having read and reviewed this new book!

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