I love Pandora. Pandora rules. I wish everything was like Pandora. I don’t really have to think or do much, and an incredibly accurate stream of stuff I want to hear just appears like magic. I can tweak it to get it dialed in to my tastes. And I now buy MUCH more music than I used to, discovering new music and buying on Amazon so Pandora gets a little affiliate revenue.
The closest we see to this ideal today is Amazon and a few other online retailers. Borders appears to be using my purchases (finally!) to tweak the email they send me, which is great.
This is the next frontier for retailers and manufacturers. A whole generation has had their priorities reoriented, much as the Great Depression did 70 years ago. Consumers will think a bit more before buying and will be much less willing to use credit to finance their lifestyle. So selling will need to move to a more relevant, customer-specific mindset if a retailer wants to succeed over the long term.
There are already many companies focusing on this space, but it will be a long time before clear winners emerge. I think the winners will likely be those who can distribute the experience wherever customers want to consume it – which means we still have a ways to go.