The group hopes to push customer experience higher up the agenda of businesses, the media and government policies, by sharing best practice and innovation in consumer relations.
Simon Calver, chief executive of Lovefilm and one of the founders of the Consumer Forum, says that until now focus groups have been too reactive, pitting consumers against business. Instead the Consumer Forum hopes to encourage businesses to build around what the customer wants, and involve consumers in the process.
“It staggers me when businesses are seen as the enemy of consumers, not as a vehicle to help solve or improve their problems,” he says.
The forum will be influenced by an online consumer panel to give views on industry issues such as the reduced VAT rate. The panel will also debate the Forum’s ideas on how to improve customer relations.
Founding brands include Lovefilm, the online DVD rental service, Ella’s Kitchen an organic food brand for children, King of Shaves the shaving and skincare brand and PhotoBox, the online photo sharing and storage portal.
Calver claims part of the attraction of the Consumer Forum is that the founding companies come from disparate sectors and because the brands were all created to solve an existing consumer problem and have been built around what the customer wants.
“Businesses that are fulfilling unique customer needs and using innovative customer relations are surviving best in the recession. Partnering with other like minded business is good for business and for the consumer,” says Calver.