Changes in consumer habit
The focus on customer experience is driven by growing consumer demand for convenience and personalized shopping experiences. The movement perpetuates itself, with each innovation in CX further elevating consumer expectations — sometimes to the point where it can even be considered “unreasonable” from a brand perspective.
Chris Barth, lead strategist, Contagious, used Uber as an example. Once a consumer uses Uber to hail a ride on-demand, their perception of the entire ride-hailing experience transforms, with new expectations.
Consumers then challenge the norm, and the cycle continues. To combat this, Barth recommends focusing on the customer journey as a whole, and building relationships rather than just a cadence of marketing touchpoints.
Technology accelerates at a rapid pace. Things are getting “smaller, faster, and cheaper,” Barth says, noting that the rate of tech innovation often outpaces the progression of more human endeavors.
Early adoption and experimentation can be a way to keep up, or outpace, competitors. AI can also be used to help automate complex tasks, Barth says, freeing up marketers to invest in more creative projects.
Building consumer trust
Building brand trust and creating more transparent communications with consumers is paramount at a time where doubt over data security dwindles in the wake of overarching scandal and privacy breaches.
“Brands that are using trust are the ones that are doing it well,” Barth said.
The key here is for brands to be open about informing customers about how they do business, and to be unafraid to admit their mistakes. This way, brands can get in front of the issue, ahead of third-party sites and AI-powered recommendations based off review data.
“Don’t be afraid of owning up to faults and admitting your weaknesses,” Barth said.
Data responsibility is also important. Consumers are now more aware of how brands use their data, and, Barth says, consumers are less likely to trust a brand if they believe they’re handling their information irresponsibly.
“Use your data wisely,” Barth said.
Emerging creative and cultural trends
Consumer culture is shifting to a more collaborative environment, powered by the accessibility of the Internet and social media. Content creation is no longer dictated solely by brands and their marketing or agency partners, Barth says. Instead, it’s a community of creators, making headway in an increasingly saturated market.
Breaking through the mold means embracing collaboration by creating customer experiences centered around community. Creative campaigns become a blend of user-generated content and marketing design, propelled by word-of-mouth, and inspiring ongoing conversations.
To do this effectively, brands need to choose their battles, and focus on authenticity.
‘What does your brand care about, what do your consumers care about, and does that line up?” Barth said.
Speed of innovation
Internally, brands and marketing teams need to be prepared for innovation. This means brands must assemble the right teams, and plan ahead effectively. Barth described it as “agile long-termism:” the ability to shift in-the-moment, while also keeping long-term goals in mind. To do this, Barth recommends taking a closer look at internal processes: Is there too much red tape to get things done? Where are there complexities, and how can we streamline them?
An agile mindset also allows teams to respond quickly to ongoing trends, or respond to potential scandals quickly.
What are the biggest trends and challenges you see impacting marketing today, and how are you preparing for the future? Let us know in the comments below.