Seven Trends for a Winning Customer Experience

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There are several relevant trends to be aware of — and to consider — as one thinks about merchandising and marketing in today’s digital environment, and before planning the next campaign. Point of View By Andrew Macey Vice President, Strategy

Text of Seven Trends for a Winning Customer Experience

  • 1. POINT OFview viewSeven Trends for a WinningCustomer ExperienceBy Andrew Macey, Vice President, Strategy, SapientNitroA couple decades ago, the brand experience was much different than it is today and much moresimple. The consumer experience was historically controlled and managed primarily by the brand,and the consumer played a somewhat passive role. Moreover, the stages of awareness, perception,involvement, and loyalty were orchestrated by the brand to proceed in a linear fashion.Since then, however, the world is a very different place, and todays consumer bears few similaritiesto the consumer of the past. Smart phones, ubiquitous internet access, and social networks arepervasive. And yet, while current technology has made connecting and interacting with a brand eveneasier, it has also stirred up some challenges.So where will this shift take us next? There are several relevant trends to be aware of and to consider as one thinks about merchandising and marketing in todays digital environment, and beforeplanning the next campaign.1. The pace of adoption and consumer acceptance has increased significantly.Adoption of new ideas and technologies is moving faster than typically has been true historically.Consider that Internet and cell phones have seen a 70% consumer adoption in just 15 years.In contrast, cars, phones, electricity, stoves, dishwashers and similar technologies of the past eachtook more than 60 years to reach the same 70% acceptance. Todays inventions are latching on andtaking off with unprecedented speed a speed which makes it all the more interesting a question as towhether one should be a first-mover or a fast-follower.2. eCommerce and mCommerce markets are large, and continue to grow more quickly thantraditional channels.In 2009, eCommerce sales worldwide were $8 trillion in revenue. But by 2013, that number is expected Sapient Corporation, 2011
  • 2. POINT OF viewto have doubled in size. The mCommerce (mobile) market in 2010 was $42 billion and is expected to be$68 billion by the end of 2013.Whereas offline commerce only shows a 1.8% projected CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate),digital, in comparison, is expected to have 15% CAGR over the next five years.Web-influenced sales will grow at an estimated 21% CAGR, and already influence approximately two-thirds of all commerce in some way.3. Cross-channel customers spend more.Cross-channel customers spend about 50% more spend on average, making them more valuable thanthose who spend in only a single channel. While most retail revenue still comes from stores by far, itsimportant to understand how greatly online affects traditional channels. A Sapient Consumer Survey,conducted in December 2010 revealed some interesting data about cross-channel customers: 53%purchasedin-storeafterconductingonlineresearch 44%boughtonlineafterlookingin-store 40%comparedpricesbeforemakingapurchase 35%lookedfordiscounts,deals,coupons,ordiscountcodes 33%emailedortextedsomeonetotellthemaboutastoreexperience 30%usedtheirsmartphonewhileshoppingtotrytofindabetterdeal 27%boughtanadditionalitemwhenpickingupanonlineorderatastore 22%boughtanadditionalitemwhenreturninganonlinepurchasetoastoreIt is in every brands best interest to find ways to cater to these highly profitable, cross-channelconsumers and to make the movement between channels easy and seamless.4. Social media creates mass personalization.By adding a few lines of code with tools like Facebook Open Graph, sites can provide incrediblecontextual relevance and give users Pandora-like experiences easily. Brands can now tailorexperiences to social-affinity based behaviors, and deliver experiences that are highly personalized.While consistency throughout a brands messaging and content are still paramount, it no longer meansthat each customer needs to experience it in the same way in a static format. Shopping histories andreal-time data means that each interaction with the brand can now be personalized to the user, and theconsumer decides what, when, and how to experience the brand it could be via online, via mobile, orin-store. The consumer gets to decide how to interact.5. The path to purchase is now non-linear.For many years, the path to purchase revolved around a linear progression of events, as consumersmoved from awareness to store interactions, to purchase, support, and loyalty. Today, however,consumers can research online and buy in store, or walk in-store and compare reviews and offers viamobile, or buy online and pick up in-store.With todays pervasive access, constant mobility, and high-speed bandwidth for rich media, there arenearly infinite options to reach the same end goals. Consumers demand a digital experience thatreflects needs throughout the customer lifecycle, across channels, that builds loyalty over time Sapient Corporation, 2011
  • 3. POINT OF view6. Consumer can participate with brands in a way not previously possible anddisproportionately influence brand perception.Consumers have always had the opportunity to be proponents of a brand, but postings, onlinefeedback, blogs, ratings and more make the ability to influence brand perception more visible.Individuals can write and comment 24/7. There is significant evidence that negative reviews andpostings carry a lot of weight relative to positive postings, and that readers often value individualpostings more than information from brands and third-party organizations. Because of this shift,manufacturers and retailers must deliver content and promotions that customers will find relevant andtrustworthy. The best customers should be engaged and rewarded, and brands must build a network ofadvocates.7. Marketing needs have changed.Historically, 1:1 marketing was the goal, i.e.: the ability to push relevant offers, information, andpromotions to an individual based on a deep understanding of who that individual was and on whats/he had previously purchased. The customer would be targeted based on pre-defined criteriaand preferences. Those personal experiences were based on past behavior patterns and historicalpurchase patterns.But thats not good enough anymore. Now, the aspiration is real-time, experience-based marketing.Loyalty card data combined with techniques like location-based services via GPS make it possible tooffer consumers different promotions on a real-time, location-sensitive basis as they walk down a storeaisle. Customers respond to different messages based on how they interact with a brand at a givenpoint in time, and new CRM and campaign tools are needed to support those varying experiences.Examples:Lets look at two examples of brands that are taking advantage of these trends and creating seamlessexperiences across multiple channels.MetLife Central | Interactive Stadium ExperienceMetLife wanted to reposition its brand, and to reach new audiences, at the new Meadowlands stadium,home of the New York Giants and New York Jets. To do this, they sponsored online and in-venue digitalengagements centered on a custom membership club, which was supported by social media and localarea marketing.MetLifes goal was to do something interactive that got people talking and engaging with the brand ina fun and interactive way. The new concept was a program that used both digital signage and a loyaltycard application. When a customer applied for a loyalty card, not only did MetLife develop a lead, butthat particular person was also entered into a weekly contest. The adoption exceeded expectations andcreated a seamless, cross-channel MetLife experience that built awareness with a consistent messageand feel for the fans in an engaging way, whether on the television screen, a digital sign, a smart phone,or a computer.MetLife successfully created an integrated experience for the consumer that brought together twothings: the fusion of social, mobile, and digital elements, as well as the foresight to make it easy tomove across channels. Sapient Corporation, 2011
  • 4. POINT OF viewAutoTrader UK | The Snap-It iPhone ApplicationAutoTrader created a cross-channel plan between commercial transactions and mobile phone use,enabling a relationship between the consumer and the seller than hadnt been possible in the past.The Snap-It iPhone mobile app gave consumers in the UK the ability to shop for a vehicle any time, anyplace. Instead of limiting the shopper to traditional means of vehicle purchase, potential consumerslooking to purchase a vehicle can now take a picture of a license plate on any car they see and like.The new mobile application then does a reverse lookup of the license plate, and cross-references thatparticular car with similar cars available on AutoTrader in a given geographic area.Looking to the futureTodays consumer has changed. And so has todays marketer. As these trends unfold, itll be interestingto watch the progression and implications of these changes in this non-linear, cross-channel, fast-moving world. Are you prepared for it? Andrew Macey is Vice President, Digital Strategy at SapientNitro (www., where he is primarily focused on helping companies think through the challenges and benefits of future business models, organizational capabilities, and new ways to create meaningful and rewarding experiences across channels for business and consumer customers. Sapient Corporation, 2011