Marketing in a post-digital age

In recent years, technological advances have massively changed how we live and work. Smartphones, online shopping, smart speakers, and social media have become part of our daily lives at home. Meanwhile, digital transformations in the workplace have left many of us hurrying to fill new knowledge gaps.

Digital is the new normal. As Accenture put it in their Technology vision for 2019, just as people no longer say they live in the ‘age of electricity’, the days of calling something digital to insinuate that it’s new and innovative are numbered. Digital is still a useful adjective, it describes what a lot of us do for a living. However, it’s no longer as strong a signifier of innovation.

Where does that leave us? In a post-digital age, according to Accenture. Many of us will recall “Digital transformation” projects that took over the remits of Marketers of recent time. As far as Ritson is concerned, this work is about to dry up. “Either the company in question has digitally transformed itself or it is so behind the times that it will go about that transformation within a cone of silence because it is so embarrassed to have not got its digital ducks lined up by now”.

So, with our digital ducks all lined up, what does marketing look like in 2019?

Convenience is key

Consumers weren’t crying out for an app that replaces your wallet and lets you pay with your thumbprint. But when Apple Pay arrived and made phone payments as easy as that, the need for it became apparent – 24% of UK adults now use Apple Wallet to pay for transactions under £30.

Amid digital adaption and change, what we buy isn’t changing too drastically. Meet the Digital Native Vertical Brands (DNVBs). They’re small scale start-ups that have demonstrated how digital disruption can have an impact on sectors in specific ways, even in categories such as packaged goods. Perhaps the biggest success story amongst them is Dollar Shave Club. Who, following an exemplary ad campaign, rose to become so successful in the disposable razor category that Unilever bought them out in 2016. You will be more familiar with DNVBs than you think. In the UK, companies like Hello Fresh, Who Gives a Crap, and our very own client Bloom and Wild are changing how we buy groceries, loo roll and flowers.

So, in 2019 anything that makes life simpler, easier and more enjoyable for consumers is going to resonate. Think about your communication channels and your pipelines. What can you be doing to bring convenience back to your customers?

Using the full marketing mix

In the post-digital age, don’t leave offline marketing channels behind. Do the opposite, because today’s consumer sees many touchpoints before purchasing. Online channels can influence offline purchases, and vice versa. In fact, omnichannel strategies have been proven to increase incremental store visits by 80% . That means multi-channel marketing is now common best practice.

Companies will need to get their data in check in order to have that Single Customer View in place, and to execute meaningful touchpoints wherever their customers may be stumbling across them. And in terms of messaging, the bigger picture always needs to be front of mind. As Nicolas Rope, Creative Director at Poke puts it: “We need one brand idea that glues everything together, not a bunch of different ideas for every channel, service and situation.”

Finding new ways to meet customer needs

83% of businesses executives agree that digital demographics give their organisations a new way to identify unmet customer needs, and some companies are finding unusual, but effective, ways to do this.

Take SlicePay for example, a lending platform that has found a way to serve unbanked students in India. SlicePay runs “credit checks” through untraditional means, building up a profile of new customers based on their Social Media accounts and college IDs. This innovation means that students can now qualify for loans and start building their financial footprints.

The automotive sector has also used unusual tactics to meet customer’s needs. Keen to boost sales of the Model 3 in the US, Tesla took the bold move of closing showrooms and moving to an online sales model. This cost-saving initiative was reflected in the Model 3’s price, which dropped from $50,000 to $35,000. Although the automotive industry is largely constrained to offline marketing channels, with just 2% of car sales made online, recent research by Bain suggests that 50% of today’s consumers would be willing to buy their next car online. This makes Tesla’s move particularly shrewd.

The beauty industry is also moving beyond products and make-up counters. As L’Oréal extend their offering in the service sector, Stéphane Bérubé, CMO of Western Europe has declared a new status quo: “companies that just sell products will not be successful”.

Sephora, for example, are ramping up their in-store makeover bookings. And their doing so is thanks to AI – their new Chatbot onsite has increased in-store makeover bookings by 11%.

DNVBs are surfacing in the beauty industry too. Take the make up brand Glossier – it started out as a blog but went on to deliver $100m in revenue in just 8 years. And it did so with just one offline store. How? Engaging a captive audience of millennials on Instagram. Glossier’s “See it IRL” feature shows their products on different skin tones and in different lights, with User Generated Content from brand advocates around the world. This community is something Glossier can really leverage. It takes away the need for customers to want to “try before you buy”, meaning there’s no need for a physical store. It’s no wonder that Founder Emily Weiss estimates that 90% of the company’s growth can be attributed to their Social Media followers.

As innovation becomes more important, companies must look inwardly to see what they can learn from their customers in order to spark new ideas. What can you learn from your database and how can you devise new strategies to meet customer needs and drive ROI?

Excellent customer experience is vital

If you’re not delivering excellent customer experience, be prepared to innovate or die in 2019, warns Steffan Aquarone, CEO of Paygora. Many big firms agree – Asda, News UK, and Johnson&Johnson have all recently made high profile Chief Customer Officer hires. This sends an important message. Companies are changing their strategic focus: customer led, rather than product led. The post-digital world leaves the customer more empowered and more flexible. It also pushes companies harder to deliver an excellent experience. CCO hires are expected to rise in volume. These new stakeholders are tasked with tying all functions of the business into the customer experience and delivering on post-digital expectations.

If you’d like to explore any of these themes further or to talk about how your business can best equip itself to shine in a post-digital landscape, get in touch with Edit. The Planning team would love to find out more.

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