All you think you knew about customers may be wrong. Yes, you should know it. There have been a kind of revolution the last decades and consumption (both purchasing and information consumption) has changed a lot. Who are consumers today ? What do they want ? How to make them buy your products?
Consumers love technology
I am not saying every consumer are totally connected and buy every technology you can show to them. But the fact is that most of people use technologies otherwise than years ago. Of course, it is a normal thing as technology is everywhere surrounding us. And we use it from the second we open our eyes in the morning to the last one before we sleep at night.
The main thing is to always remember people don’t use one technology at a time. Now, they use several devices at the same time and they switch technologies nearly 27 times an hour. Yes, you read well ! This means it is really hard to catch their attention by one device. Most of them listen to music while surfing on the internet with the TV’s on at the background and then turn on the radio !
Brands just have to rethink their strategy. That’s why they now talk about multicanal strategy and even omnicanal strategy : they now try to invest every technology and media possible to be sure to reach their target. I am not sure it is working, anyway, this is how things are now.
Social media and consumers
As it came with technology, internet created social media platforms and communities. At first, you could reach your target by aiming the most used social media platforms which were Facebook or Twitter. They still are the most famous ones but something has changed now. You can’t only be present on these platforms to create a link or a conversation with your clients because people use a lot of different media and their profiles can’t be drawn easily. Lots of hobbies and interests mean lots of different medias. Brands have to work differently and most of all, forget about choosing one or two ways to get in touch with their audience.
We have to keep in mind about social media that Facebook is loosing its young audience. It’s understandable if you consider that people using it at first are going old and that young ones aren’t interested in Facebook. What young people are interested in are visual platforms. As I often say, visual and images play a very important part in people’s life. It’s been so easy now to take a picture that this going to be our way to interact with others. That’s why pinterest or instagram have so many users !
Internet and buying process
Another huge feature to notice is the part of the internet search in the buying process. You cn read it everywhere. People now trust internet users opinion. They search a lot of information before buying something with some commitment. First they look for recommendations on the internet. Once their choice is made, they look for the best price. I resumed it but the process can take weeks. The new consumer is cautions and want the best for himself !
Individuals want to be one and only
From this technological world appeared a new trend : the willing to be unique. Indeed, technologies and more again internet bring everything for everyone. So anyone can get the same things as anyone else. This can lead to a global world where everybody have the same things, outwear, furnitures, shoes, cars…. But humans are individuals first. They need to exist to be considered as one, as a personality in its own right. That’s why they’re looking for products which give them that possibility. As a consequent, brands have invested into systems allowing personalization.
This is what people want : to have their own product. Nutella puts messages on its chocolate pots, Converse helps you designing your baskets, M&Ms allows you to put your face on the peanuts… You see what I mean 😉
Consumers Fall in love with brands
The individualisation of the society invites people to look for other kind of relationships with brands. Now, they don’t only look for efficient products but they want a one to one relationship with the brand who made them. Most of the customer like a brand they don’t usually buy. This hasn’t to be linked. You can have sympathy for something you didn’t experiment. Consumers can be positive about a brand, loving it but still not buying the products. It is not a problem. Because, as I usually say, a brand nowadays can’t only work hard to sell its products. Everything counts, even building an ambassadors community. Even if they don’t buy the products, the lovers / fans of a brand can talk about it and convince others to do it !
That’s why it is so important to tell them stories. Storytelling strategies are booming lately. People need to dream, to have more than facts. They want to feel something and emotions are the key to make them purchase or, at least, make them fall in love with your brand. And we all know, once emotions are involved, everything can happen. Just make sure you won’t disappoint your audience. As they love your brand and talk about it positively, they can also change their mind very fast. As a consequent, I keep on repeating : treat your brand ambassadors gently and take care of them !
But Consumers are also rational and cautious
This statement meets all the new trends we border on nowadays : communities, sharing platform, crowdfunding, crowdraising, renting between private individuals, swap… People are willing to give meaning to their purchase. This is not about convenience now (even if it remains for essential products). Consumers want now to share values of the brands they buy and be loyal to their true-selves. They want to be proud of the brands they buy. Buying this or this represents their social status for some of them. To buy a product from a brand they don’t support the action or the message is not possible anymore. Consumers want a certain coherence in their purchasing choices.
I will resume all this by one quotation from Simon Sinek you should learn by heart : « people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it«
Possession is old-fashioned
One of these trends I would like to focus on is the sharing / renting trend. You might have sensed it. More and more platforms are emerging to help people to share, swap or rent things they own. We can think of houses renting but also services renting between neighbours. Indeed, some organisations help neighbours to give themselves a hand. One knows how to do home improvements and want to learn how to play guitar, another need help to home work and is a musician, so a platform would put them in contact. That’s how it works and lots of that kind of website are seeing the day.
People aren’t interested in possession anymore. They just want the practical side of things. This is a way to rebuild a society more united. Living in cities bigger and bigger lead people to feel alone and see the society as selfish individuals trying to live side by side. Creating contact between people by all meanings and for all reasons possible is helping feeling a bit better.That’s why all that new concepts built around communities are so trendy.
This is the consequence of the feeling I was talking about. Collaborative consumption is the way to gather people and make profit about it : have more for less by sticking together. And this trend can lead us very far. In some architect or visionary imagination, the city of the future will be totally collaborative. We will go back to the essence of our lives by sharing our talents. Some will cultivate vegetables and give it in exchange for some ironing or baby sitting services. Everyone would swap its talent for something else, will lend its stuff for something in return, will rent its competencies outside the workplace with its neighbours…
In brief, consumption is now turning to a new era, leaving the ancient system, the mass consumption, behind. Of course, it is only the beginning but we can already see the start of something new. The word we should all have in mind : ADAPTATION.