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The five key demands of the always-on consumer

6th Aug 2014
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Driven by a flood of information, the rise of social media and an explosion of connected mobile devices that provide people with access to the information they need when and where they want it, the consumer has taken the upper hand in the marketer/consumer relationship and there’s no turning back.

In the process, the always-on consumer has replaced the sales channel at the core of the relationship and decides when, where and how to interact with a brand. Complicating matters for the marketer are the ever-expanding media and channels through which their customers can engage; social media, brick and mortar stores, Websites, search, e-commerce, mobile apps, traditional advertising and more.

These modern, technologically savvy individuals are empowered, informed and connected. When it comes to interacting with a brand, they don’t operate in channels and get frustrated when a company’s internal silos prevent a seamless experience. In addition, because these people can access product and price information anywhere and any time — whether they are in the early planning stages of a purchase or about to make a transaction — it`s up to marketers to win or lose them up until the very last second.

So in today’s connected environment, what is really important for people, and how do brands ensure they address this across all channels?

Creating interactions that matter

At every interaction, people are evaluating brands against their key demands and constantly deciding if they want to continue the relationship. If a brand doesn’t deliver, they won’t think twice about moving on. In order to survive and thrive in this new era, marketers not only need to deliver on the consumer demands, they need to reorient their mindset to see these demands as the core of a larger set of consumer rights.

Five key demands of the always-on consumer:

  1. RECOGNISE ME. Individuals today want to be recognised. At every touch point, marketers must demonstrate that they know who they are as well as what they want.
  2. TREAT ME AS AN INDIVIDUAL. Personalised content, messaging and offers are a must. To prove that brands know their customers, marketers need to focus on the things they care about and speak in a voice with which they can relate.
  3. MAKE IT EASY FOR ME. The always-on consumer should have a seamless cross-channel brand experience. Marketers need to empower them to interact with brands and transact through the channel of their choice.
  4. ANTICIPATE MY NEEDS. The always-on consumer demands convenience. Marketers must be helpful and informative along every step of the way and be able to move mountains without being noticed.
  5. GIVE ME A VOICE. Opinions matter. Marketers must value the always-on consumer’s honest opinions and give them the tools they need to share their thoughts when and where they want.

Addressing the challenge

Most brands understand the need for a seamless experience across channels yet many are still struggling to achieve it. In the era of the always-on consumer, the purchase funnel is gone and is replaced by surround sound purchase opportunities where individuals get to pick. That makes the job of maintaining relevant and effective communications with people exponentially difficult, yet many marketers still run campaigns channel-by-channel as if nothing has changed. As a result, marketers increasingly find themselves either speaking when no one is listening or speaking in a disjointed manner. In order to have an authentic conversation with people, marketers need an integrated cross-channel communication strategy designed to let the conversation flow and follow consumers wherever they are.

Experian research shows that 74% of customers would respond positively to companies who ‘understand them’ and 54% would even actively recommend these organisations to their peers.

Marketers need to take heed of these stats and ensure that they quickly remove barriers that might keep their customers from having a seamless cross-channel experience and reorient to meet the expectations and demands of today’s always-on consumer.

Seizing opportunities

Reorienting to adapt in the era of the always-on consumer is hard work, but brands who want to successfully position their business for the future must keep the customer at the core of their marketing strategy. They need to embrace the challenge of engaging their customers across channels and start moving from just relevant messaging to more holistic customer experience management, including service messaging (e.g. delayed flight, arrived parcel, password re-set, etc) as well as marketing messages in the conversations. Keeping the above five points on top of mind will ensure that people feel like brands understand them and they interact with them in an intelligent way no matter what the channel is – every time.

Simon Martin is managing director of digital at Experian Marketing Services.

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