Four trends to watch in marketing, technology and changing customer behavior

Four trends to watch in marketing, technology and changing customer behavior

30-second summary:

  • Prove what their brand stands for and respond to growing demand for action over words.
  • Understand how things like voice experiences, augmented intelligence and inclusive design are creating new paradigms for brands to consider in in 2020 and beyond.
  • Consider new strategies for managing data, engaging employees with emerging technology, and unlocking new capabilities through modernized platforms, products and processes.
  • In 2020, creating campaigns from design through engagement with empathy—taking into account gender, race, class, ability, and other forms of diversity—means more than box-ticking for legal, moral, or ethical reasons.

Customer Experience has dominated digital strategy and product design for years. But as our understanding of people’s relationship to digital technology changes, the devotion to Customer Experience will evolve. Driven by technology like conversational UX, a demand for transparency, and a more holistic customer perspective, leaders will have to recalibrate where their brands have to compete for engagement. But what are the new customer expectations, technologies, and the experiences that are creating real value?

Brands will find their voice, but will users?

With nearly half of searches coming via voice technology, content and SEO strategies must continue to evolve not just in the language that is used but in creating new ways of getting consumers to go to your brand before searching at all. Unilever’s Best Recipes Alexa-skill app, Tide’s stain removal skill, Purina’s “Ask Purina,” and others have all demonstrated creative ways to keep customers engaged through voice.

While conversational UX continues to be seen as a key next frontier of customer and brand experience, voice has a discovery problem. Despite the usage of voice-based devices reaching record highs—2019 marked an estimated 3.25 billion devices worldwide, projected to reach over 4 billion in 2020—consumers are still using a fraction of the 60,000+ Alexa Skills or roughly 5,000 Google Actions available. Studies from found that in 2018, 61 percent of Alexa Skills still had no user ratings and that in 2019, half of Alexa users said “they simply don’t bother” to discover new apps. 

With voice-based shopping expected to account for $40 billion by 2022, the challenge for brands will be not just to innovate and deliver better experiences but to bridge the gap of awareness for customers.

Real value exchange

By February of 2019, social media app TikTok had reached 1 billion downloads. Eight months later it added another 500 million. In November, Pitchbook valued TikTok’s parent company at $75 billion, making it the most valuable privately held company in the world. 

Centered around short bite-sized videos, synchronized music and seamless content editing, the explosive success of TikTok has largely been attributed to the personalization of its user experience, specifically a fundamental departure from the typical social media playbook: ignoring what users’ “friends” are doing in favor of content based on predictive analytics of what they actually want to see, regardless of who created it.

Although the company has begun fielding concerns about data usage and censorship, the success of TikTok reinforces a truth that brands need to note: Delivering truly user-driven experiences means constantly rethinking the value being exchanged.

In TikTok’s case, this is reaching 1.5 billion downloads and 500 million active users with a streamlined, simple offering: one format, one platform, driven by content it already knows they’ll love. Nothing more, nothing less.

Designing with empathy / Inclusive design

In July 2019, Domino’s Pizza was sued by a man named Guillermo Robles, who is blind and was unable to order food on the company’s website or mobile app despite using screen-reading software. After a lower court ruled in favor of Robles, Domino’s petitioned the US Supreme Court, claiming accessibility standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act didn’t apply to websites. The Supreme Court denied the petition.

The decision was a major victory for disability advocates and a landmark moment in the clear standards of inclusivity and accessibility for digital products of all kinds. While they have always been important considerations, inclusive design and accessibility have become a significant movement in the digital space, presenting both a new mandate and new opportunity for brands.

In 2020, designing with empathy—taking into account gender, race, class, ability, and other forms of diversity—means more than box-ticking for legal, moral, or ethical reasons. Particularly when considering people with disabilities have a global spending reach of $1.2T, expect brands to design more inclusive experiences that better welcome people who may have previously been left behind.

The pursuit of frictionless

Real-time computing continues to gain new ground in reshaping customer experiences with new levels of convenience, responsiveness, and sheer lightning-fast speed.

In 2019, Apple’s partnership with Goldman Sachs finally delivered the Apple Card. In addition to delivering users daily cashback, it offers better ways to track spending and real-time application processing.

The approval process governing the card marked a new milestone in real-time computing being brought to fruition. Users can open their Apple Wallet, apply for the card in seconds, and be approved in less time then it took you to read this paragraph.

According to reports, Amazon is even rumored to be developing a payment processing system requiring users simply to scan their palm, rather than needing a card or device at all.

Moving from batch to real-time processing isn’t just about a faster, more efficient version of existing operations. Customer experiences rooted in real time have proven to unlock new revenue streams, capabilities, and areas of growth for brands in a range of industries.

Touting benefits like greater transparency, instantly available transaction data, and easier ways to manage spending, Fintech challenger brands like Chime, Qapital, Varo, and new-to-the-US Monzo continue to put real time at the heart of their promises to consumers.

Dan Ptak is VP of Global Marketing for Kin + Carta, which recently published the 2020 Change Report. He joined the company in 2016 where he has overseen the growth of the brand and the launch of three new practice areas in the last three years: Conversational User Experiences, Cloud-Native Development, and Augmented Intelligence. He brings to the role 12 years of full-stack marketing including stints in quantitative marketing research, a mobile startup, and a full-service marketing agency.

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