The Paradoxes Of Marketing To Connected Consumers

Last week we finished looking at the elements of the connected consumer in moving from individual to social branding Today we are going to introduce the second part of Marketing 4.0 being Marketing Paradoxes

There is a train of thought that marketing should be written as market-ing. Writing it that way reminds us that marketing is about dealing with the ever-changing market, and that to understand cutting-edge marketing, we should understand how the market has been evolving in recent years.

Connectivity is arguably the most important game changer in the history of marketing. Granted, it can no longer be considered a new buzzword, but it has been changing many facets of marketing and is not showing signs of slowing down.

Connectivity has made us question many mainstream theories and major assumptions that we have learned about consumer, product, and brand management. Connectivity significantly reduces the costs of interaction among companies, employees, channel partners, customers, and other relevant parties. This in turn lowers the barriers to entering new markets, enables concurrent product development, and shortens the time frame for brand building.

There have been various cases of how connectivity quickly disrupted long-established industries with seemingly high entry barriers. Amazon has disrupted the brick-and-mortar bookstores and later the publishing industry. Likewise, Netflix has disturbed the brick-and-mortar video rental stores and, along with the likes of Hulu, has shaken up the satellite and cable TV services. In a similar fashion, Spotify and Apple Music have changed the way music distribution works.

Connectivity also changes the way we see the competition and consumers. Today, collaboration with the competitors and co-creation with consumers are central. Competition is no longer a zero-sum game. Consumers are no longer the passive receivers of a company’s segmentation, targeting, and positioning moves. Connectivity accelerates market dynamics to the point where it is virtually impossible for a company to stand-alone and rely on internal resources to win. A company must face the reality that to win it must collaborate with external parties and even involve consumer participation.

The success of Procter and Gamble’s (P&G’s) Connect + Develop program exemplifies this. Instead of protecting the brand equity of Febreze as its own competitive advantage, P&G licenses the trademark for new categories. Partner companies such as Kaz and Bissell launched Honeywell scented fans and odor-removing vacuum bag filters that carry the Febreze brand.

Despite the obvious influence, connectivity is often underrated as a mere application of technology that marketers need to deal with. Seeing connectivity from a technological viewpoint alone would often be misleading. In the context of strategy, many marketers view connectivity simply as an enabling platform and infrastructure that support the overall direction. A bigger-picture view of connectivity allows marketers to avoid this trap. While it is true that connectivity has been driven by technology— namely “screen technology and the internet”—its importance is far more strategic.

A survey by Google reveals that 90 percent of our interactions with media are now facilitated by screens: smartphone, tablet, laptop, and television screens.

Screens are becoming so important in our lives that we spend more than four hours of our leisure time daily to use multiple screens sequentially and simultaneously. And behind these screen-based interactions, the internet has been the backbone. Global internet traffic has grown by a factor of 30 from 2000 to 2016, connecting four out of ten people in the world. According to a Cisco forecast, we will see another ten-fold jump of global internet traffic by 2020, powered by more than 11 billion connected mobile devices.

With such a massive reach, connectivity transforms the way consumers behave. When shopping in-store, most consumers would search for price comparison and product reviews. Google research shows that eight out of ten smartphone users in the United States do mobile research in-store. Even when watching television advertising, more than half of the TV audience in Indonesia conducts mobile search. This is a trend-affecting customers globally.

Derivative products of the internet also enable transparency. Social media such as Twitter and Instagram enable consumers to show and share their experience, which further inspires other consumers from the same or a lower class to emulate and pursue a similar experience. Communal rating sites such as Trip Advisor and Yelp empower consumers to make informed choices based on the wisdom of the crowd.

Thus, to fully embrace connectivity we need to view it holistically. While mobile connectivity —through mobile devices—is important, it is the most basic level of connectivity, in which the internet serves only as a communications infrastructure. The next level is experiential connectivity, in which the internet is used to deliver a superior consumer experience in touchpoints between consumers and brands. In this stage, we are no longer concerned only about the width but also about the depth of the connectivity.

The ultimate level is social connectivity, which is about the strength of connection in communities of consumers.

Since connectivity is closely related to the youth segment, it is also often considered relevant only for the younger generation of consumers. As a result, many marketers implement “connected” marketing as a separate youth strategy without fully understanding how it fits with the overall marketing strategy. It is true that being digital natives, younger consumers are the first to adopt connectivity, but they inspire their seniors to adopt connectivity as well. I am amazed how much I am learning from my 11 year-old ‘You Tuber’ son! Or my 17 year-old daughter who is an aspiring podcaster!!

Moreover, as the world population ages over time, digital natives will become the majority and connectivity eventually will become the new normal.

The importance of connectivity will transcend technology and demographic segment. Connectivity changes the key foundation of marketing: the market itself.

CMO Perspective – Tom Buday: Nestle

A big challenge with Kit Kat was about contemporizing it for the new reality of digital and social media while staying absolutely glued to its historical fundamentals. The Kit Kat iconic product design, the four-finger bar of wafer and chocolate, has remained the same for I don’t know how many years. The iconic packaging and logo has also remained essentially the same. The core fundamental selling proposition of Kit Kat, which is about bringing a smile to your break – the slogan is “Have a smile, have a Kit Kat” – have remained consistent as well for a long time. What has rapidly changed is the way the brand engages with consumers to bring the proposition to life when and where they’re receptive based on a deep understanding of how the target consumers are living their lives.

To give you a couple of concrete examples, we partnered with Google in allowing them to brand the Android operating system upgrade as Kit Kat. We developed a joint promotion with them that was highly successful worldwide. Until then, Google was using generic dessert type names for naming their operating system releases, and a big fan working at Google had the idea ‘Why not use Kit Kat?”

They contacted us through our advertising agency, JWT (J.Walter Thompson), and one thing led to another. No money changed hands between the partners but we arrived at an activation that was great for both of us. There was logic to it all even though the opportunity came to us with a little bit of luck. The team understood that, while people have been taking breaks from work or the daily grind forever, the way they are taking breaks today is very different. More often than not, when they take a break, they have a mobile phone with them. Why not exploit that breaking moment, exploit the branding partnership with Android, and see if we can bring a smile to people’s breaks in a Web 2.0 way?

It was very successful. Since that time, we’ve continued our partnership with Google. Kit Kat has among our best presences in social media across platforms and we continue to do well there. It’s not really a turnaround. It’s more a contemporization, staying true to fundamentals and adapting them to new realities.

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