Great Expectations: The Changing Expectations Of The Connected Customer

By Aqilliz  

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The Changing Expectations of the Connected Customer

Not all customers are created equal, but often, organisations find themselves trying to be all things to all people. However, the fact is that each customer takes a different path on their route to purchasing a brand’s products or services. This is especially true in our new reality, when consumers are more likely to shop across a wider array of physical, digital, and mobile platforms than ever before.

Technology has made customers more empowered than ever — they have more ways to research options and more avenues to share their experiences with your brand. At the same time, the digital advertising industry has been in flux, given the groundswell in demands for greater data privacy signaling the end for the traditional means of targeting with third-party cookies. For marketers, learning how to understand customer expectations in this complex landscape is key to driving brand loyalty and long-term business growth.

Next to normal

In a nutshell, consumer expectations are what customers hope to experience and how they want to feel when interacting with a brand at each point on their path to purchasing an item. In order to fulfill customer needs, marketers must understand the physical and psychological factors that motivate customers to seek out and purchase a type of product or service. For many consumers today, a return to normalcy feels so close yet so far away. In some parts of the world, consumers would have resumed their pre-pandemic habits and lifestyles — however, it’s important to keep in mind that a return to “normal” won’t look the same for everyone. As we slowly emerge from the pandemic restrictions, what’s almost certain is that consumers won’t simply revert to doing exactly what they did in 2019.

With more people structuring their spending around online platforms, digital-centric consumption looks increasingly likely to stay. In Southeast Asia, 80 percent of channels that consumers use before arriving at a purchase decision are online. Digital is now the primary way that shoppers discover brands and products; for today’s consumer, the mobile phone is now the shop in the pocket, the device that connects and bridges the online and offline worlds. As this digital transformation accelerates, brands and marketers will need to innovate in order to sustain engagement with these mobile-first consumers. With the overwhelming amount of new channels and technologies in the ecosystem, data-driven strategies will prove essential to creating more relevant customer experiences in the ever-crowded digital marketplace.

Data: Your source of insight

When determining how to create great experiences for your audience, marketers often turn to personalisation — using data and artificial intelligence to understand customer wants, needs and behaviours, even before customers know they want something themselves. Brands can mine online data to get a quick pulse on the way consumers are thinking or feeling; they can look at ratings and reviews using advanced analytics to understand and identify emerging trends that they can tap on to influence advertising decisions. With such data as a source of insight, marketers can create meaningful, actionable strategies to meet the changing expectations of today’s digital consumers.

The challenge, however, is that linear purchasing journeys are often few and far between. With shoppers across a varied range of channels and platforms, marketers must turn to cross-media measurement strategies to reconcile their data sources and fill the gaps between offline and online media. Yet, in an increasingly privacy-first marketing ecosystem, data privacy concerns are among the biggest hurdles faced by marketers when it comes to collecting data from their consumers. However, when done in the right way, data-driven marketing can respect people’s data choices while delivering value to brands and customers.

Change breeds opportunity

The shift in attitudes towards data privacy has forced brands to find new ways to deliver impactful marketing outcomes within a new privacy-first landscape. In order to build customer confidence and trust, brands should be focused on exceeding expectations rather than just meeting the “minimum requirements” for compliance. The brands that surpass expectations will likely gain a competitive advantage; on the other hand, those that consider privacy an afterthought risk losing their customers’ trust and confidence.

For marketing to be considered ethical, people need to be conscious about sharing their information with brands — they need to do it actively and voluntarily. Responsible brands can cater to these demands by ensuring they use non-technical language, provide information in the right context, and avoid lengthy privacy policies. In addition, marketers should take this opportunity to restructure and improve their data management processes, investing in tools and technologies that enable greater transparency and portability of consumer data. With data privacy higher on the agenda than ever before, now is the chance for brands to find new approaches to create a respectful, engaging customer experience in ways that were impossible just a few years ago.

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