The start of the New Year is a time for reflection and making new plans, so it is a perfect time for business leaders to look at trends that are changing the way brands interact with customers around the world.
Regardless of the service or product you provide or the industry you’re in, customer behaviour and expectations change rapidly, and failing to keep up with customer expectations can result in you being left behind.
So, we spoke to a team of experts to find out what trends they believe are the ones to watch in 2019.
Brands embrace behavioural science
Just five years ago, very few companies had heard of behavioural science and even fewer companies were making use of it, said Helena Rubinstein, a behavioural scientist at Innovia Technology and author of new book, Applying Behavioural Science to the Private Sector
“Today, more and more companies are taking advantage of the science of human behaviour and this trend shows no sign of slowing,” Rubinstein explained.
“Organisations are using behavioural science to improve the way they ask questions in market research, to design new products and services that really meet peoples’ needs, to design innovative consumer experiences, to develop communications that connect with peoples’ motivations, and to engage employees and change behaviour in the workplace.
“In the past year alone, global corporations such as Heineken, Procter & Gamble, AIG, Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson and Southwest Airlines have all been working with behavioural scientists to gain a deeper and more systematic understanding of consumers, employees and customers, and with good results.
“This is a new discipline that you can’t afford to ignore. Expect this trend to accelerate in 2019.”
Brands marketing to machines
“Algorithmic prediction has become an increasingly common part of customer experience for almost 20 years now, but this is about to be taken to the next level, as our day-to-day purchases are automated,” according to Steven van Belleghem, author of Customers The Day After Tomorrow.
For example, the moment you buy a smart washing machine connected to your Amazon Prime account, detergent can be ordered and delivered to your door before you even realise you’re running low.
Of course, for the makers and marketers of washing machine detergent, this provides something new to think about, he suggested.
“While they previously focused on B2C or B2B marketing, we’re about to get into B2M, or business-to-machine marketing. This will necessitate companies starting to figure out how to market not just to you the customer, but to the algorithms that ‘represent’ you in the digital world.
“Which brand will your smart washing machine buy? How much? Once it learns your preferences, it will sort through the ‘digital coupons’ and B2M marketing to figure it out.
“Marketing to machines will become a whole new discipline in the world of customer experience.”
Ubiquitous connectivity, pervasive interfaces and autonomous computing
“The emerging tech reshaping consumer interactions through 2019 is being determined by three main technological drivers of change: ubiquitous connectivity, pervasive interfaces and autonomous computing,” explained Miya Knights, co-author of Amazon: How the World’s Most Relentless Retailer will Continue to Revolutionize Commerce.
“The first is exemplified by the fact that more than half of the world’s population is using the internet today.
“So we will see mobile continue to exert a powerful influence on every stage of the shopping journey – from research, browsing and discovery, right through to payment and scan-and-go at checkout.
“The second, where touch is now the most popular computing interface, will also capitalise on growing mobile penetration to eliminate further friction from the shopping journey.
“Applications, such as voice and visual search, as well as augmented reality (AR), are well placed to bridge the online-to-offline gap.
“The third driver is predicated on AI-based systems development that moves on from automating manually-intensive, repetitive tasks to orchestrating complex decision-making processes at scale. This spans personalised recommendations and offers, to robotics in the warehouse and drone deliveries.
“Amazon, the US giant, has capitalised on these drivers to gain an unprecedented competitive advantage. Expect to see more retailers follow its example and deliver greater speed, convenience, choice and transparency to customers via digital, AI-based innovation.”
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