Savvy marketers have seen the winds blowing toward personalization as more a necessity than a “nice to have” over the past decade, as various technological advances have made it more possible than ever before to send marketing campaigns that make your customers feel like you understand their particular needs.
And the more enterprise brands that take advantage of that technology, the more expectations rise for you to do the same.
But have the events of the first half of 2020 accelerated what was already a steady increase in those consumer expectations of brands? Mintel revisited some 2030 predictions they made in light of current consumer attitude and trends, and found that the effect of widespread quarantines, layoffs, and business challenges has brought us far closer to where they expected us to be in 2030, and some of these trends will impact your cross-channel messaging strategy.
How consumers feel matters, and driving emotion in your customers can be a powerful effect with your marketing — for good or bad. Here’s what Mintel sees consumers looking for from brands right now, and how it could affect the messages you send:
People are seeking authenticity in their brand experiences
Experiential marketing was already becoming a trend before everything went sideways a few months ago, and there’s good reason to think that’s only going to pick up speed as people tighten their budgets and look for ways to feel connected to the world while staying at home.
“Heading into 2020, convenience and 24/7 on-demand services reigned supreme. We predicted in 2030 a greater importance placed on ‘shutting down’ for pleasure and an emphasis on the benefits of the ‘nothing experience,’” Mintel wrote. “COVID-19 has only accelerated those predictions to be realities of today and we’ve seen a notable shift from extroversion to introversion. While there’s value in the experience of shutting down, the drive for experiences remains and Mintel predicts that consumers will seek new ways to find fulfillment, placing an even greater emphasis on experiences over things, and the value of the human connection.”
That human connection has perhaps never been more important than it is today, when everyone is in the middle of the same disorienting experience, but it’s affecting everyone in their own individual way. You can’t know each customer’s personal situation, but you can use what you do know about them to deliver campaigns that are tailored based upon their demographics and behavior. Going forward, the most human company wins.
It will take more to get people to engage
Consumers are going to be seeking out those experiences, and brands are going to know that. So, as you may have noticed from looking at your inbox, everyone’s trying to entice you to join in on whatever experience they’re offering. Maybe they’ve converted their previously in-person conference into an “immersive digital experience” that they hope will be able to somewhat replicate the in-person one.
But because everyone’s doing it, people are going to be picky about which ones they attend and which ones they merely sign up for and then keep watching Netflix when the time actually comes. It’s going to take something noteworthy, exciting, and informative to get consumers to join you for that experience you’re setting up.
Put yourself in their shoes. Is this something you’d attend if you had nothing to do with it? Is it on brand for your company, or are you going too far to get attention? And what will consumers get out of this in the end? These are always good questions to ask yourself for any marketing campaign, but they carry extra importance in the near future.
People want to be comforted, not to get generic pitches
This is also where a certain amount of empathy — and humanity — goes a long way, and personalization is key to hitting the right notes. You know the challenges so many have faced in recent months. Maybe you’ve experienced some of them yourself. How have you felt about generic marketing pitches or the carbon-copy messages from every brand in the world telling you how they were with you in these “uncertain times”?
“With consumers increasingly looking for comfort and reassurance, brands have an opportunity to be a source of comfort,” Mintel wrote. “There’s also a need to provide a bit of fun and playfulness in an effort to help people move beyond the effects of the pandemic and the looming economic impacts to follow.”
Some of this goes back to being on brand. What level of fun and playfulness fits your brand voice and messaging? As with the digital experiences, consumers are looking for escapes, for little slices of normalcy in their brand interactions. Not everything you send has to be dire and serious. Consumer fatigue is real with COVID-19 content. To what extent you can provide a bit of levity in your marketing, do so.
And continue to make it personalized whenever you can. Maybe it’s not time for that “Where have you been?” message you usually send when someone hasn’t visited your store in six weeks, but is there a fun way you can acknowledge that, perhaps sending them a digital coupon for delivery instead?
Get creative, and show there’s a human behind your brand. But, more importantly, show you know there’s a human on the other side of your messages in order to generate more brand loyalty for the second half of 2020.