Marketing paradigm has undergone a sea change over the past decade. The internet has a profound impact on various industries but very few industries have witnessed a metamorphosis like marketing. Gone are the days when knocking on doors or cold calling was considered the easiest and most effective way of reaching out to consumers. Marketing professional back in 90’s and 00’s would have scoffed at the very idea that a decade or two decades later, companies would be able to run real time marketing campaigns. No one would have harbored such thoughts.
Ubiquitous online presence
A research done by IAMAI-IMRB reports that nearly 60% of urban India has an online presence in some form. The number of internet users in the country is set to reach 450-465 million users by mid-2017. Further propelled by the Government’s consistent focus through ‘Make In India’ and ‘Digital India’ initiatives, the online revolution has made a remarkable change in the way brands market their products online. As per a recent study by IMRB, India currently spends 12% on digital marketing. Today, Digital plays a critical role in every aspect of marketing – whether it is about creating awareness, customer engagement, customer acquisition, and product development. The mobile screen became the first screen of India in 2016 and it is rapidly changing the way we consume media, interact with others (including brands). Even rural India is not left behind. They have leapfrogged to mobile technology with lower penetration of computers, as a medium to access the Internet. Reaching to the customers through these channels helps to gain traction, resulting in higher ROI’s, and building a recall in the consumer’s mind.
Today’s consumers are more enlightened and empowered. They are constantly being flooded with more digital content than ever before. A huge number of brands are available at consumer’s fingertips. Consumers have become more demanding. They know more than ever about what they want, how they want it and from whom they want. Consumers are becoming adapted to immediate accessibility and expect their brand experiences to be personalized and easy to navigate. With so many options just a click away, customers won’t wait around if the brand experience is not a satisfying. While selecting product and services, consumers rely more on advocacy of people they know and trust. Recommendations from known people are now five times more trusted than brand marketing according to the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. Consumers nowadays are spending more time surfing social media sites and the decisions about the purchase, often reflect interactions with friends and other influencers. The digital world has made consumers quite impatient, impulsive and they seek immediate gratification. They want immediate services and real-time virtual dialogue with their brands. Next-day delivery is being overtaken by ever-faster delivery possibilities for the shopper.
Evolving consumer behavior in Digital Age
The biggest change in consumer behavior is that consumers expect a consistent and personalized experience. Consumers desire and expect personalized messaging from brands. Marketers should connect with them at the right places at right times, which involves increased real-time localization. Modern consumers are not loyal customers, they are more variety seekers. This has left previously logo-heavy companies scrambling to assimilate their product to suit modern tastes. Patanjali Baba Ramdev’s initiative is a good example. Patanjali is giving tough time to the MNCs. FMCG major Colgate-Palmolive has acknowledged competition from Patanjali products.
These days consumer put more emphasis on post purchase experience. To satisfy and retain customers, products and services are coming with a type of built-in offer of post-purchase assistance. Emerging definition of convenience is moving from fulfilling customer needs to actually predict them – including the post transaction period. Tools like customer analytics, social intelligence, and machine translation are all crucial components which assist brands in the delivery of the experiences that customers want.
The prime change in consumer behavior is that consumers, increasingly turn away from anything they perceive as marketing. As consumers are becoming tech savvy they are becoming impatient towards intrusive or irrelevant content and messages. More than 25% smartphone users have installed ad blockers and this number is increasing rapidly. Instead, they look towards small groups of people who have a high level of credibility in their specific industry or category to influence their buying decisions. As consumers spend more time on these social media platforms, decisions about what to purchase often reflect interactions with friends and other influencers. In response, leading marketers are adapting their strategies to reach increasingly networked consumers and placing more stress on tactics such as word-of-mouth marketing and storytelling.
Marketers need to start capturing customer intent data so that marketing and experience can become contextually relevant to individual consumers, perhaps for the first time. As a marketer, we can expect marketing to be less about a quick sell and more about building a long-term relationship. Consumers want authenticity in their purchase of products and expect some level of personalisation in mass produced as well in upscale items. These demanding customers have become more outspoken about their choices and preferences. If they are not happy about any product and services they are very upfront about their opinions on various social media platforms. Every purchase decision is researched, evaluated, ranked and even crowd-sourced to ensure that it’s the best decision.
Consumer behavior in the digital age is an ever-changing and ever-expanding. Staying in tune with consumer behaviors, tastes, and impending trends can help brand stay relevant, visible and engaging for customers.