Finally, in first place
They are alert, (very) well informed, less loyal, do not like “more or less” and believe more in what others say than what brands say. These are the new generation of consumers, and they are forcing brands to reinvent themselves in how they think, act and, above all, relate.
Unlimited access to information and people has caused a rapid change in the dynamics of the consumer journey. Communications, once one-sided and basically reliant on advertisers saying what they wanted through the media (paid or not), now has no owner. What was linear is now a network, and that network is huge.
But what does communications have to do with the dynamics of consumption? A lot. It all starts with the fact that today’s consumers know too much! It is not news to anyone that knowledge is power. One of the main effects of this volume of available information is that our current and future customers do not need (or like) our vendors or stores. Going to a point of sale is a “necessary evil” for anyone who has the whole world within a click of their fingers—unless the experience is worth it. Good experiences, inclusively, must be an obsession for brands at all points of contact, from the website to the customer service. Here, we arrive at two important challenges for brands today: to be present and available online, and to be able to offer memorable experiences.
“Good experiences, inclusively, must be an obsession for brands at all points of contact, from the website to the customer service”
Is it obvious that being online is important? Yes. Is it straightforward? No. Do brands do it right? Definitely not! Advertising that interrupts and/or reaches consumers irrelevant to your brand, news or negative comments from influential individuals present on search engines, social networking profiles that only advertise rather than generate content or talk… None of this builds relationships with consumers, but it is what we see most brands out there doing. The good news is, the tools needed to prevent this from happening already exist.
What about experience? Here is where the great corporate empires of the past have much to learn from startups, not only in terms of business model (innovative and agile) but also regarding their products and services. Quickly name 5 startups that come to mind, and I can guarantee that most (probably all) have simplifying people’s lives as a main goal. Simplifying life is, without a doubt, an example of experience at its core. Banks without bureaucracy, immediate purchases without needing cash, the delivery of anything to anywhere, online buys with same day delivery. Does this mean all industries that do not sell service, mobility, etc., will end? No, but it does mean these industries must learn to be more relevant by placing the consumer at the center and making their relationships with them a memorable experience at every step and point of contact.
Another feature of new consumers is that they are increasingly less in the “middle.” A biscuit that is neither the healthiest nor the tastiest has no reason to exist. This also stems from the current communication dynamics, which has a polarizing effect that ends up forcing people to take a public position. Consequently, brands that stay in the middle of the road will find it increasingly difficult to attract customers. This holds true for both their products and their purposes. Therefore, position yourself. Be bold in both conversation and attitude. Pleasing everyone has become both impossible and unnecessary.
“Brands that stay in the middle of the road will find it increasingly difficult to attract customers”
But does every conversation or position, as long as it is bold, work? Of course not. And here is another point (and one of my favorites) regarding the new consumer: they are increasingly concerned about values. Of course, they will seek to relate to brands with compatible values. So, for brands, there are some questions and challenges. Are you part of an organization with values? Are they clear to you and to potential consumers? Are they relevant? Is there a coherent conversation surrounding these attitudes?
I repeat: they are alert, (very) well informed, less loyal, do not like “more or less” and believe more in what others say than what brands say. But they are much more open, concerned about the world and available for dialogue. They only expect us to place them where their place should always have been: first.