A few thought-provoking questions to help jump-start your year.
Most of the marketers I know tend to attack a new year with gusto and a renewed sense of purpose. This fresh start provides us with a great opportunity to reassess the health of our brands and our marketing initiatives.
After reading a recent consumer trends piece in Forbes by author Micah Solomon, I wondered what marketers are doing right now to sync their plans with the ever-changing wants and needs of consumers. So I was inspired to put together a checklist for 2015 – a handful of questions to ask yourself about your current efforts.
One critical trend among consumers – particularly at the affluent end – is the waning desire to invest time and energy in actively researching information. Instead, as Solomon points out, consumers now expect personalized, aggregated information – delivered to them instantly.
My mobile phone predicts what I type, suggests products based on what I’ve already purchased, and recommends a highly rated restaurant because it knows it’s lunchtime and I’m nearby. I don’t have to seek any of this information – it is automatically delivered to me. Now, think about applying that technology along the path to purchase in a high-end home retailer.
Solomon quotes a study by Accenture: “Customers in a retail situation often prefer to look to a smartphone for answers to simple product questions rather than working with a human clerk. The smartphone answers just seem to be faster and more accurate and sometimes, sad to say, come with a little less attitude.”
Which brings me to the first questions on the checklist for your consideration:
- What are we doing right now to ensure that our customer’s digital experience anticipates his or her needs and delivers personalized solutions to them instantly?
- If our customers prefer getting information from their mobile devices instead of our sales team, how can we both improve our mobile interface, while also improve the relevancy and efficacy of our team on the sales floor?
Another trend pointed out by Solomon is the consumer’s desire to align with brands that share his or her values.
“The attitude on conspicuous consumption has shifted, perhaps due to recent and continuing economic uncertainty, from being proud to show off how much we can afford to spend to being ashamed at consuming too conspicuously,” says Solomon. “Think of the people you know who willingly pay five bucks for a cup of coffee, provided the coffee shop says that part of that fiver goes to help the rainforest.”
- Are the values of our brand aligned with those of our most loyal customers and our most promising prospects? If not, what are we going to do to get there?
- If we don’t know the values of our customers, what kind of quick, down-and-dirty sentiment monitoring can we do during the next week to give us a sense of what’s on their minds?
Finally, given all of the economic turbulence of the past five or so years, consumers are drawn towards old-fashioned virtues and timelessness – albeit delivered in a modern way. Think of it as The-Good-Old-Days-Meets-Right-Now. They celebrate brands that have stood the test of time, yet still meet their needs at this moment.
“Don’t be fooled into thinking your customers will accept timelessness without timeliness. They want the twenty-first-century version of timelessness—on a timetable that matches the impatient standards of the digital generation,” says Solomon.
- What story can we tell about our brand that will connect with this desire for authenticity? How do we demonstrate timelessness?
- And equally important, how are we ensuring that we demonstrate timeliness too?
I hope that you’ll set aside some intentional time to reflect on these questions. And better yet, that you may be inspired to tackle a few of these initiatives and seize the new year with gusto.
May the year bring great things to you and your brand.
If you’d like to read Micah Solomon’s article about these and other trends for 2015, please click here.