The Paradox Of Informed vs Distracted

Last week we looked at the paradox of online vs offline Today we are going to introduce the second paradox that being Informed Consumer vs. Distracted Consumer.

We all think that today’s consumers are the most powerful. It is valid to say that most of them actively search for information on brands. They make more informed purchase decisions. But despite their higher level of curiosity and knowledge, they are not in control of what they want to buy.

In today’s world, digital media is so pervasive that it’s no longer considered unique. It’s a way of life. Virtually everyone has a smartphone, and most individuals and households have multiple smart devices, including tablets, phones and computers. This prevalence, coupled with the rise of Big Data, digital marketing tools and social media, has given marketers the power to pinpoint specific audiences with advertising messages.

To connect with consumers today, marketers need to re-think their strategy and focus on creating quality brand experiences, rather than on high-volume ad exposure. It’s time to take a second look at your approach and put people first.

In making purchase decisions, consumers are essentially influenced by three factors. First, they are influenced by marketing communications in various media such as television ads, print ads, and public relations. Second, they are persuaded by the opinions of their friends and family. Third, they also have personal knowledge and an attitude about certain brands based on past experiences.

The truth is that today’s consumers have become highly dependent on the opinions of others. In many cases, others’ words have even outweighed both personal preference and marketing communications. The reason for this is none other than the connectivity itself.

On the bright side, connectivity brings a lot of protection and confidence. In the consumers’ minds, their inner circle of friends and family provides protection against bad brands and companies. But connectivity, along with the presence of multiple devices and screens, also brings distractions. It hampers the consumers’ ability to focus and often limits their ability to decide.

Thus, many consumers make their decisions by following the wisdom of the crowd. This is further fueled by the low level of trust that consumers put in advertising and the limited time they have to compare qualities and prices.

Further, because it is very convenient to receive advice from others, the importance of word of mouth is growing in the final purchase decision.

This is the portrait of the future consumers—connected yet distracted. A survey by the National Center for Biotechnological Information shows that the average human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2016. This can be attributed to the massive and overwhelming volume of messages that constantly bombard our connected mobile devices and demand instant attention.

People today are more distracted than ever with multiple screens and devices being used at all time high rates, often at the same time. Have you ever searched something on your phone or tablet while also working on a laptop or watching TV? Then you know what marketers are up against. The 8 seconds means advertisers have a better chance of keeping a goldfish’s attention than the average person.

The challenge for marketers going forward is twofold. First, marketers need to win consumer attention. It would be hard for a brand manager to get a consumer to sit through a 30-second advertisement and for a salesperson to engage a consumer using a 30-second elevator pitch. In the future, it will be more difficult to get a brand message across. Consumer attention will be scarce; thus, only brands with WOW! factors will be worthwhile for them listen to and to advocate.

Second, marketers need to create brand conversations in consumer communities despite not having much control over the outcome. Marketers need to make sure that when consumers ask others about a brand, there will be loyal advocates who sway the decision in the brand’s favor.

According to McKinsey, personalization can reduce acquisition costs by as much as 50%, lift revenues by 5 to 15% and increase marketing spend efficiency by 10 to 30%.

In a world where digital is so ubiquitous that it becomes a way of life, consumers are so saturated with digital ads that they often ignore or actively avoid them. Instead, it’s time to focus on quality. Delivering the right message, to the right person, at the right time will enable marketers to create quality brand experiences, increase consumer lifetime value and acquire new consumers more efficiently.

Putting people first is the way of the future.

CMO Perspective: Linda Boff – GE

Digital and customer experience is the big one. In a world that is increasingly on-demand and real time, our customers are just people. They’re human beings. The good experience they’re having on Uber, Amazon or Airbnb is on-demand, customized, and fast. Increasingly, customers are expecting that from whomever they do business with. For all of us, speed is the new intellectual property. We need to be fast. We need to be transparent. As people are able to see that, they expect that from everybody they do business with.

For sure, we see it in customer experience, and that is laced in digital. Digital has enabled all the things we’re talking about. It’s enabled speed. It’s enabled transparency. We as marketers have to be really facile when it comes to digital tools. We have to be pushing what’s new and what’s next, including the use of platforms and that could be Fleck or Instagram. It’s understanding how tools can make life easier for us and for our customers.

A great story, well told, is timeless. In this age when there’s so much content and technology, everybody hangs their head and says, “What’s going to stand out? How do you get heard?” Great stories that are creatively brought to life get heard. There’s more. Therefore, you need to be that much better but that’s timeless. Fighting for the user is timeless. With all the technology we can use and all of the platforms that are out there, I try hard to always come back to the experience for the user.

You still have to fight for the user all the time and have a great value proposition. The best marketing in the world doesn’t disguise a product or suggest a value that isn’t there. That still has to be fundamentally what’s there – great experience. The experience the customer has with your customer, your product, your service, that’s timeless.

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