Digitisation has forever changed the consumer buying experience. The internet, once a simple tool to browse options and compare prices before consumers experienced and bought the product in a store, has now become the platform on which brands compete for share of mind and pocket.
In the past consumers had limited choices – they didn’t have access to the multitude of product options and purchasing opportunities we face every day via our mobile devices or while surfing the web. It was also difficult to engage with them individually, or deliver personalised products and services.
However, the digitisation of everything has changed the game. While the digital marketplace has created clutter, it also offers opportunities for digitally-empowered brands to engage with consumers on a granular and contextually relevant level, across location, time and device.
More importantly, brands today hold greater influence over a consumer’s purchase decision-making process. Through the application of data-driven intelligent digital solutions, brands are now able to curate consumer experiences to influence their thinking and their ultimate buying decisions.
This is vital in the modern digital age, because consumers no longer simply buy products or services. Today they live through experiences and buy according to these encounters, the majority of which now happen in the digital realm.
By leveraging data-driven insights, brands are able to better understand consumers – where they spend their time, how they like to communicate, their preferred digital engagement platforms, what information they search for, what they look at, and what they currently like or potentially could like.
By constructing this rich, fused view of the consumer – what we call the customer genome – brands can uncover digital behaviours and preferences that will help them engage with customers in a more relevant context. These insights also help to elucidate the role brands currently play in a customer’s life, which empowers them to carve out the role they want to play in the future.
This is the starting point for the creation of a data-driven architecture of engagement that enables marketing and selling to a segment of one. By understanding the consumer – what their typical day constitutes – brands can begin to build relationships and engage with a customer via various digital channels.
More importantly, brands, irrespective of industry, can then craft meaningful and relevant digital experiences in real time that create demand for their products and services, and they can more easily convert into sales.
Of course, this also means that brands that aren’t digitised aren’t there, influencing consumer decisions at the zero moment of truth (ZMOT). This refers to the point in the buying cycle when the consumer researches a product or service and makes a purchase decision. The ZMOT no longer happens at the point of purchase, though. It is now being influenced online by those brands that are building and holding digitally-empowered relationships with consumers.
And the brands that are succeeding in this new era of hyper-relevance are those that apply human-centric design thinking to create living digital services, instead of just static products. These services combine data about where consumers are with what they like or need, to deliver a relevant product or service to them at the most relevant point in time.
To win in this modern phygital consumer marketplace – where the physical and digital worlds intersect – brands need to use data and insights to build new and relevant living digital services that excite consumers and add value to their lives.
However, if brands hope to maintain their relevance and succeed in the modern digital market, they need to act now to meet the prevailing consumer demand for digital experiences. The time for talk is officially over.
By Carmen Whateley, Managing Director within the Accenture Digital practice in Africa