6 Ways To Ensure Your Brand Stays Relevant To The Customer Of The Future
Dan Clay, Lippincott Senior Innovation Associate, identified six shifts that will shape the customer of the future
It’s a time of unparalleled disruption. In 10 years, 7 billion people will be seamlessly connected to each other and the world’s knowledge base. The concept of “going online” will cease to exist, as the internet will be an ever-present fabric in our lives that we’ll be permanently and invisibly connected to. We’ll be surrounded by a cloud of data that can know our every preference, habit and behavior, enabling AI to make smarter decisions on our behalf. Our bodies will become our passwords. Virtual and augmented reality will create digital experiences that our brains can’t distinguish from real ones.
These advancements in technology are creating unprecedented opportunities for marketers. In our survey of 2,000 U.S. leading-edge consumers (customers that have a high level of alignment with these tech-driven trends), we found that 64 percent are happy to trade private data for personalized products and services. Over the past five years, almost 70 percent have seen a rise in their personal demands for instant access and customization.
In just a few years, the way consumers shop, connect and think about brands will be completely different. So how can brands ensure they stay relevant to the customer of the future?
To answer this question, Lippincott carried out a breadth of work across industries, looking over the horizon to predict the changes ahead. We identified six shifts that will shape the customer of the future; the companies that understand and act on these shifts will stay relevant for years to come.
A life in flow
In the future, customers will gain freedom through mobility. Fixed acquisitions such as jobs or leases will no longer tie us down, as new technology allows us to flow more than ever. According to our research, leading-edge consumers are six times more likely than today’s average consumer to rent versus own, demonstrating their innate desire for flexibility.
Companies that are able to meet this need and move with their customers in a de-located, independent fashion will undoubtedly do well in the future. Convenience and flexibility will become crucial selling points. Already, the act of hailing a cab, visiting the grocery store or stopping at the bank are becoming increasingly less necessary with new technology and apps. Even the most minor interruptions will stand out once the world is dramatically streamlined by technology.
We’ll live amidst continual monitoring in the future, but we’ll reap greater benefits of social connection and personalized recommendations. Our wearables will know if we are adequately hydrated, our washing machine will know if we need to order more detergent and our cars will know the cheapest place to get gas. Social experiences will dominate; sharing on social platforms will be easier than ever, and benefits like lower premiums and product discounts will flow to those who are willing to share their data.
This increasingly tracked life presents brands with enormous opportunity. When we all can be tracked, we will demand transparency. This heightened visibility will lead to a rise of ratings, and every brand we consider will have a score. Be transparent; open up your customer experience for full accountability because if you are hiding anything, your customers will find out.
Technology already provides us with new opportunities to wield power in line with our personal preferences. In the future, “standard” will no longer be enough—modularity, mixing and customization will become the new norm. Customers will have high expectations – they know they’re being tracked, so they’ll expect their products and services to understand and even anticipate them.
Give your customers the power to unbundle, customize, make, modulate and mix. Go beyond “one size fits all” and grant customers the power to control their own unique experiences. They’ll reward you for it.
We all enjoy instant gratification. We want what we want, when we want it. As the concept of “waiting” becomes further and further obsolete, “right now” might even be too late .
Everything from entertainment to groceries will be available in an instant. Repetitive tasks will be automated, freeing up more of our precious time. With 85 percent of leading-edge consumers feeling more efficient thanks to today’s technologically-driven world, the growing desire for on-demand everything has opened up doors for disrupters everywhere. For brands, it’s incredibly important to keep up with customers’ ever-increasing expectations for immediacy and efficiency throughout every aspect of the customer experience.
With the growing prevalence of artificial intelligence and constant access to the world’s knowledge base, not knowing anything will become virtually impossible. As a result, individual expertise will shift to wisdom of the crowd and we will begin to trust diverse opinions as opposed to the seasoned experts.
In our survey, we found that 62 percent of consumers would rather make decisions based on intelligent apps and crowdsourced information than on the advice of family and friends. The days of “word of mouth” brand-building are numbered, as more and more customers depend on algorithms tallying relevant reviews. Provide your customers with as much knowledge about your band as possible, and see the positive reviews come piling in.
Down the line, the boundaries between the digital and the real world will start to blur. With the onset of augmented reality, virtual reality and digital identities, we’ll live in immersive environments that drive collaboration, connection and empathy. And our identity will grant us access to new possibilities—as any teenager with a Snapchat Story already knows, we’ll carefully craft personal brands as one of our few remaining owned assets. For brands, new possibilities in gamification, beautification, information and communication will open up new channels to connect with customers.
When we look at the uncertainty surrounding the customer of the future, one thing is certain: technology isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Will you?
Dan Clay is a senior associate in innovation based in Lippincott’s New York office. Blending his background in consumer psychology and business innovation, Dan advises leading businesses on how the world is changing while identifying the innovation spaces and business approaches that will matter most to the customer of the future. Dan has worked as an advertising strategy MBA intern at Google and spent four years as a sales, marketing and communication consultant at the Corporate Executive Board, advising Fortune 500 customer service executives on best practices in customer loyalty, customer segmentation and customer experience mapping.