The Digital Consumer

The consumers today are more alarmed & informed. They are in charge of every decision they make and are more cautious than ever. With digitization and globalization, consumers have knowledge of every industry at their fingertips. Their share of money comes only when you get a share of their mind and heart.

Consumers today believe in experience rather than transactions. At every key touch-point, they want to immerse themselves in a story that tells them why they should invest their time and money in a brand. Consumers want everything personalized and want them in an instance. They are craving uniqueness, transparency, and want a brand to build a relationship with them.

Living in a digital world when consumers can have everything in an instant, their attention span and patience are reducing every passing day. A 21st-century consumer wants solutions by brands within no time and is ready to even pay a premium for things to happen as per his/her time and convenience. Consumers of the 21st century don’t settle for one channel and follow a multi-channel behavior. It is mostly a mix of e-tail and retail. They might browse in-store but go and purchase it online or vice versa, unlike the consumers in the 90’s. Consumers are indeed the heart of the business and brands must adapt to every behavioral change or perish. Customer experience determines the success of any company.

Coined in 1990, Clayton Christensen defined the Disruptive Innovation Theory. While it does simplify what disruption means, it brings along some challenges for the bigger organizations. Disruptive Technologies like cloud, IoT, Analytics, and Blockchain are changing the business globally. With the kind of environment that bigger companies thrive in, it doesn’t permit them to innovate freely as they are at a profit-making stage and coming up with disruptive innovations may not satisfy the needs of their current customers. They majorly focus on the expectations of their mainstream customers. If they shall demand a change, the business shall evolve its products. Disruptive innovations can also burn resources that are required to compete against the current competitors, which hardly leaves any space for proactive ideas. Lack of time and resources thereby lead to restricted growth and are a huge challenge for bigger companies. The lack of technical know-how on the part of the staff and robust internet infrastructure can be a big challenge.

Netflix came into the market by ’97 when consumers were still cherishing DVDs and would walk miles to find the DVD that they needed. During that time, Netflix disrupted physical stores by providing DVD-by-mail service. With the first-mover advantage, they further proceeded to video streaming. By 2007, Netflix started its video streaming service and became a major primetime entertainment on the web. Started with TV but it realized that screens are now not just limited to televisions and made a quick jump to computers, mobile phones, tablets, or smart TVs. Netflix can be accessed from anywhere and has now become synonymous with OTT platforms.

The lesson to learn from Netflix is thinking ahead of time by creating a vision plan as well as marking the customer expectations. You must always over-deliver on their expectations as a brand and that’s what Netflix did. It made perfect use of digitization and made the first move by realizing a future service gap.

Digging deeper into the major consumer expectation trends we notice that consumers expect connected journeys. Consumers want key touchpoints to be in a seamless connection with each other instead of trying to connect the dots by themselves. They want to effortlessly be able to make transitions from one channel to the other. Organizations must follow a consistent delivery and experience across web, mobile, brick and mortar, and social platforms.

Consumers expect to be treated like a human and not just a sales number. Humanity and a touch of emotion have to be there when doing a business. Organizations need to understand that consumers want to be able to interact on an individual level and want customized solutions. Every consumer’s need is unique and they want to be addressed uniquely, too. Personalized experiences are the keyway to influence consumer loyalty and the best way to make sure that their expectations are met.

Another consumer expectation is to receive responsive solutions. With ever-growing connectivity, consumers want to see results sooner than ever.  They want things to happen in real-time. Organizations need to create accurate channels to be able to deliver to this consumer expectation to get a fair share of heart and wallet. From AI-powered technology to VR, we’re indeed excited about technological innovations that will meet the new-age consumer’s expectations.

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