The Coming Inflection Point, Part 3: What Joe Consumer Wants

In part 2 of our Inflection Point series, we took a top-down perspective to review the broad-stroke changes unfolding in the On-Hold and In-Store music providers industry. We showed other industries where these kinds of changes have happened, how disruptive these changes are, and research that shows the inevitability of this kind of fundamental reshaping of our industry.

Now that we’ve established that major, disruptive changes are afoot, lets focus on how best you can set yourself up for future success.

In this part 3 post, we’ll thus take the bottom-up approach of reviewing the challenges and pain points from the consumer perspective. Why? As audio and marketing providers, your customers are business and retailers. Their customers are the Consumers. It follows that the Consumer is thus also your customer, once removed. So to understand where things are headed in the future, we must start by understanding the needs and desires of the Consumer.

In reviewing the needs of the consumer, we draw directly from three major sources. These research sources are quoted at the bottom of this blog post: all credits and data is directly from these sources. (We’ve added our own comments to put this research in context, and do not take any credit for the data that is provided).

The Broader Needs of the Consumer can be summarized as follows:

  1. To be Valued. This means:
  • open exchanges with brands or organizations
  • reciprocal relationships
  • being rewarded from the information that is shared
  1. “Always on” relationships - on the consumer’s terms
  2. Unique and personalized experiences
  3. Serendipidy: “Happy Coincidences” in their interactions with brands
  4. Self-Growth Opportunities: To improve themselves, make their lives better, and track their improvements
an image of statistics
61% of consumers are more likely to buy a product or service from a brand that delivers pleasantly surprising experiences.

Here is a revealing breakdown on what Consumers are telling business brands:

61% - more likely to buy a product or service from a brand that delivers pleasantly surprising experiences.

59% - are willing to trade their personal data if they feel that they get rewarded in return.

55% - expect technology to deliver surprising experiences that are uniquely tailored and “feel like coincidences”. This is the highest among younger groups 18-24 years in age.

54% - expect brands to know when the right moment to talk to them is.

53% - are more likely to buy from brands that reward us for our digital information.

53% - are more likely to interact with a brand if they make genuine connections with specific needs and interests.

49% - want technology that will allow them to experience things online and offline in the same way.

45% - are willing to sell ALL their data to the right brand at the right price (average asking $2,168).

41% - are using specialized social networks that are dedicated to their precise needs - choosing these over generalist services.

36% - expect brands to know them and offer something they didn’t even know they wanted.

20% - want to be provided with recommendations without actively seeking them out.

In other words, here are the things that Consumers say they desire:

  • Encounters with Brands should surprise and be relevant
  • Brands should know when to talk, and when to shut up (“Quiet is the new loud”)
  • Powerful connections to the things they love
  • Technology that surprises and delights, at the right place/time
  • As technology matures, consumers expect more humanity to interactions
  • Information pushed to them at the right time, without asking
  • Technology that lights up the senses, not numbs them
  • Technology that anticipates things the consumer is about to do, and might not even realize they want yet.
an image of two puzzle pieces to illustrate communication
Notice how a lot revolves around 2-way communications.

(When you are selling to your own customer, you are listening to them and generally having a 2-way dialog. Should the product you supply them, then not also allow them to have a 2-way dialog with their own customer, the Consumer?)

Consumers are saying to the Retailers: “I didn’t give you my data to make it your data. I gave you my data to make my experience better, and I expect a value exchange.” As a Provider, you are intimately involved in creating those experiences. This suggests you need to be figuring out how to apply the consumer’s data to make the consumer experience better.

By being able to create experiences based on data, you are also helping your customer to GET hold of that data (this gives you a whole extra dimension in your value proposition)

Lets look at some possibilities for how we could apply these insights in the In-Store / On-Hold context.

In-Store Example: Justin goes to the Gym

When Justin walks into the gym, we can know he’s there. This is called “Geofencing”; essentially it hooks to the fact that Justin is carrying a mobile phone in his pocket.

We could now do all kinds of things to pleasantly surprise Justin:

  • We can adapt the background music to factor in Justin’s musical tastes, for as long as he’s on site (in fact we can build an aggregate picture of the tastes of everyone present)
  • As Justin arrives, we could greet him by name in audio messaging or on signage. If it’s Justin’s birthday, we can even give him a special greeting.
  • If Justin has set some fitness goals, we can encourage him: “Hey Justin, just 2 more pounds to go, and you’re at the next level! Keep it up!” (remember how Consumers have said that its important that we help them manage and improve their lives?)

This is using technology to pleasantly surprise a customer. It leverages customer data, and in fact helps create the value exchange that motivates the consumer to share his data. It’s contextually relevant, personalized, and non-intrusive: and creates the ability for your customer to differentiate themselves.

an image of a bulls eye target
Create consumer-centric experiences

An On-Hold Example: Bryant calls the Cable Company

Let’s imagine Bryant, a customer of “The Cable Company” (TCC), who calls in and gets placed on hold.

Like most cable companies these days, TCC offers TV, Internet and Phone services.

Now something that’s always amazed us about cable companies, is why they would waste on-hold time to advertise to us services that we already have. So let’s imagine that in this scenario, 90% of the callers on-hold at the time Bryant calls in, already have phone services with TCC. By leveraging the customer data TCC already has on file, the on-hold messaging could auto-adjust NOT to try and sell new phone services.

Imagine TCC’s data shows that many of those on-hold at that moment are known to make long distance calls, but don’t yet have Long-Distance packages. The on-hold messaging could now automatically adjust to promote Long-Distance packages.

TCC’s data might further show that Bryant is a highly valued customer that has been using TCC phone services for 5 years already, pays his bills on time, and saves around $100 each month on his unlimited country-wide package. The system can thus determine Bryant’s testimonial to be very relevant to the other callers currently on hold, and could automatically acknowledge Bryant and communicate the benefits he’s enjoyed in the live on-hold program.

For example: “Tip of the hat to Bryant who’s just called in; Bryant, we appreciate your long term service and hope you are enjoying your long distance savings with our unlimited package.” And if the phone system allows, the cherry on top would be to placed him in a VIP queue with the message: “You have been placed in our priority queue and your personal representative will be with you shortly. ”

Does this sound like Science Fiction? It shouldn’t… All the building blocks are already in place to deliver services like these. In fact, it is already quite possible to do things like actual real-time blitz campaigns: “We’re running a blitz special on unlimited packages for the next 5 callers that ask.”

image of people on the subway
Effective use of customer data creates pleasant and engaging experiences for the always-on consumer

Key Take-Aways:

  1. Find ways to help your customer (the business retailer) to have 2-way conversations with his customer, the Consumer.
  2. You should no longer be thinking of yourself as a message mechanic, but as a producer of engagement experiences who leverages data feeds coming from the Consumer to create 2-way conversations and experiences.
  3. This requires that you work with customer data and technology partners that can help you collect and leverage the relevant data, to surprise and delight your indirect customer, the Consumer.

Reference sources used for this post:

  1. Microsoft, Future Lab, IPG Mediabrands Early Adopter Interviews Online consumers (9000+) USA, Sweden, Brazil, Russia, China, UK, Germany, Canada, Czech Republic: International Dataset
  2. Microsoft Advertising - Knowledge - Digital Trends: US and Canadian datasets
  3. CBC article on Canadians willing to dell their digital data: