8 Consumer Trends Shaping Marketing Strategies
Traditional marketing terminology has focused upon ‘business to consumer’ and ‘business to business’, primarily with different approaches. However, isn’t it fair to say that many of these boundaries are blurring, with greater crossover in the tactics, techniques and toolkits used to communicate across different audiences? The old adage applies - people do business with people.
The word ‘consumer’ is used here therefore to apply to both individual consumption of products, as well as considering how we communicate with professional contacts within organisations.
Building trust is essential in all scenarios. Here are eight ideas to consider within your marketing.
1.‘Let’s Make It Personal’
Customisation is a key trend influencing both the online and offline world. It determines everything from the relevance of email headers and product suggestions, to the ability to design your own wall paper and art work, as well as your specific dietary choice - vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, organic etc. However, we have an innate tendency to categorise, not least since it provides clarification and direction – age groups, postcodes, product spend, financial behaviour, lifestyle trends. We try to make sense of it all. Nevertheless, we must not forget the individual’s need for a more personalised service.
Today’s consumers are becoming more demanding – they know what they want and when they want it and products are adapting accordingly. Great examples of customisation in action include Spotify, preparing playlists based on taste profiles, Coca Cola’s individually named bottles, Moonpig’s auto-creativity with cards and snack company Graze’s self-selection. Making it personal is a good thing for marketing. It provides opportunities to be invited in, to be remembered for all the right reasons and to engage in a meaningful conversation.
How can your marketing strategy ensure that you acknowledge, appeal and talk to individuals on their terms? Detail is everything. Consider how your data profiling can become even more relevant, create truly custom content and go the extra mile to offer a tailored and therefore unique customer journey. But always remember the need to obtain permission and opt-in.
2.‘The Experience Of A Lifetime!’
We have always been hard wired to tell stories – whether to educate about dangers and opportunities, to pass on skills, or to preserve traditions. Great brands also communicate great stories – take Apple, IBM, Amazon, Mercedes-Benz, all within the top global brands.
What can really get people talking about your brand however is offering totally immersive (and obviously positive) encounters, enabling consumers to savour, digest and feel what you have to offer. And this can cut across demographics.
The ‘experience economy’ is much more about emotional engagement and encourages stories to be shared time and time again – especially if the experience is on a bigger and better scale. Whether it’s offering a dream day out, or ensuring that you incorporate the latest technology to bring your brand to life (such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence or mobile gaming Apps), think about the holistic and sensory experience that you are providing. Great stories are re-told time and time again.
3. ‘I Want it Now….’
The term ‘instant gratification’ has been bandied about in the media, but basically means that absolute convenience and not having to wait for a reward strongly appeals in today’s fast moving world. Consumers are determining when they would like to ‘consume’ products, placing them very much in control.
This can be seen in everything from the widespread popularity of on-demand viewing, to food takeaway services such as Just Eat, 24/7 e-commerce ordering and even speedier, or better value delivery services, from Amazon and Argos to Asos - all resulting in greater opportunities in the service economy.
There is also evidence of loyalty programmes moving from purely points based mechanisms to those which offer immediate paybacks with a choice, in order to create an instant feel good factor. As this approach becomes increasingly expected by customers, what can your brand offer to make customers feel instantly more valued and to encourage them to keep coming back?
4. ‘I’ll Tell You …What I Really, Really Want. ’
The consumer is in control. Tightened data protection laws have helped, quite rightly, to ensure that consumer preferences are respected and that information is welcome, relevant and timely. And it’s not just private individuals, increasing numbers of commercial organisations are also opting out of unsolicited emails, phone calls and other direct approaches and actively opting in to areas that really interest them. Additionally, as work patterns continue to change with Gen Y and Gen Z, seemingly incorporating more flexi-working and portfolio careers, thinking about how we communicate with this fluidity in organisations becomes even more critical.
And yet this is still a good thing for marketeers. It means revisiting your USP and how you compare in a competitive context, so that your potential customers want you to be on their playlist and invite you into this space.
5. ‘Is It TOTALLY Authentic?’
The use of celebrities to endorse products, along with the rise in social media influencers and even fake news, has given rise to a desire to know that reviews are real and not simply paid for content aimed at driving purchase. Increasingly, consumers are interested in a brand’s values, the issues that it aligns itself with and how this is conveyed in everything that brand does - even before they decide to advocate it.
What are your brand values, how is this reflected in your corporate social responsibility and how does it consistently determine your communications?
6. ‘Doing Good And Feeling Good’
Once somewhat of a taboo subject, a focus on mental health, meditation and mindfulness are in vogue – both for individuals and in the workplace. Besides feeling better about oneself, there is also heightened awareness of our own impact on the world. This includes our environmental footprint, coupled with a desire to generally do good for the planet and its inhabitants. This might include volunteering, fund raising or by reducing our own consumption of resources.
Ethical supply chains, sustainable business models and minimising waste, such as plastic, are all key concerns. Consumers are now more likely to research the origin of goods, as well as the added value. This offers brands a chance to differentiate, as long as there is a strong and consistent commitment to these credentials.
7. ‘I‘m Part Of A Valued Community’
Being within a group of like-minded people can mean achieving goals which may seem unattainable to an individual on their own. This is reflected in the plethora of achievement Apps and tools, incorporating everything from health and dieting, to sports, with opportunities to share one’s progress.
Being part of a community can also be a means of self-expression and creativity, as well as co-creating products in conjunction with manufacturers. Success stories include the Lego Ideas community and furniture manufacturer Made.com, which provides crowd sourcing for new designers. Co-creation also plays a strong part in the automotive sector.
Is it worth considering how you can improve engagement by enabling your customers to participate in the development of your products and at the same time driving innovation?
8. ‘Please Do What I Say…’
Voice tech, along with digital audio assistance, is set to grow massively. Supporting the trend towards greater convenience and a better customer experience, we are seeing this in the uptake of smart speakers, such as Amazon’s Echo Dot and Google’s Home, as well as greater use of voice-enabled transcription and texting.
In a world of multi-tasking, this not only facilitates a hands-free experience but, coupled with use of AI, has the potential to position brands as an integrated and practical part of daily life and therefore also the first port of call to provide solutions.
This would also suggest that there is great potential to incorporate a wider range of sensory interactions into communication strategies – audio is becoming just as influential as visual cues in building customer relationships and no doubt other tech-enabled senses will become more prominent.
Since all businesses have specific requirements, this article should be used for background guidance only and should not be understood as one to one, personal business advice. For this reason, no liability can be accepted by Freelance Marketing Ltd