People like underdogs because they represent their own views of themselves: not quite there, but with loads of potential to reach the place they want to go.
This is why so many people, from experience, get truly impressed when a brand makes efforts to reach out when they had no formal obligation to do so.
Sure, consumers have power. The thing is that many don't quite know that (yet), and it's actually up to brands to show that to them.
No wonder people love to see others like themselves highlighted by their brands of choice (picture "fan of the week" stuff, for example). Everyone feels like an underdog every once in a while. If brands help consumers achieve higher ground and actually get their voice heard, they will thank you.
The good part is that very few brands are doing this properly. My advice: get to work before it goes mainstream, because by then you won't be unique for doing this. You'll be part of the status quo yet again.