This is the third post in a series where we discuss Modern Consumers, what it means for today’s brands and the role of customer data in creating a people-based marketing strategy.

The advent and availability of the Internet forever altered who held the power in a purchase decision between brands and consumers. It’s through consumers’ online research and behavior that can decide sales success. This is to any brand’s benefit, now, though, as consumers choose to engage with brands and provide many data points in the process allowing brands to become even more successful. But, how did this happen? What changed?

Hubris Changed Hands
For decades, branding/marketing was fueled by hubris. Careful campaigns and messages told consumers what to buy and, because consumers were trained to trust these brands and their messages (in part because brands were one of the only sources of information available), consumers listened.

The internet connected consumers with information and, perhaps more importantly, with each other, forcing brands to follow the conversations they once led. As brands are no longer the main source of information for consumers, they don’t own the primary relationship and must transition from telling consumers what to buy to asking them what they need. Fortunately, consumers are answering that question with every piece of data they provide.

The value of a consumer remains significant, but the larger question for brands is “What value do we provide to the customer?” What’s most interesting about this position is that it’s no longer the product itself that holds the greatest value. What these consumers want is an experience from every product/service, transaction, and piece of media they encounter. They want brands who are selling a story while simultaneously helping consumers tell their own story and enhance their life.

modern consumersUnderstanding the flow of information is central to learning how to interact with the modern consumer. These consumers have unlimited access to information, and they often seek as much information as possible before making a purchase or visiting a store. This offers brands the opportunity to understand the information landscape and how they can effectively add their voice. Though the modern consumers’ appetite for information is practically bottomless because they are often constantly connected, brands must find ways to become a source of accurate, reliable information that helps these consumers navigate the decision making process. This accuracy also extends to the products themselves.  A benefit for a brand in doing this is learning more about who their customers are.  The more they listen to customers, the more information customers are willing to give on themselves to satisfy their quest for experience.

When this wealth of information combines with immediacy of communication and the ubiquitous nature of social media, consumers have little tolerance for misinformation. Brands must say what they’re going to do and then deliver on that promise. This is easier said than done as products change throughout development, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to manage all information touch points. Social media becomes a valuable resource here because it can help you identify instances of missed expectations with consumers. This offers the rare opportunity to quickly correct issues and potentially create a good experience from a bad one. And if there’s one thing customers crave, it’s an experience. If they can share it, that only sweetens the deal.

What do we mean by all of this? Modern consumers are more informed than ever and, seemingly, are always looking for the ‘next’ thing or experience that will satisfy them. This opportunity to use data they provide not only from their purchase decisions, but on their lifestyle, behaviors, and habits allows brands to better target to those consumers who are most open to their brand and message. Now, brands can spend smarter by using their own customer data to increase sales and reach even more customers furthering brand reach and increasing sales.

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