Digital marketing has changed so much, often the best path forward it is best to step back and look at the broad landscape… the demographics of digital marketing if you will. To do this, I often look at summary reports from the best in the business. Below I lay out some of the biggest findings from a Razorfish report I love entitled “Digital Dopamine: 2015 Global Digital Marketing Report”.
According to Razorfish, “Ideas that were once dominant now face irrelevance, as new digital developments displace them. This transformation occurs rapidly, and marketers are constantly struggling to keep up. Therefore, in preparation for tomorrow, Razorfish took a deep dive into the qualitative and quantitative data of four international markets (the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Brazil) to examine the ways in which digital technology is shifting traditional brand-consumer relationships. From uncovering global commerce expectations to identifying the effect of digital on our subconscious, this research set out to expose the key trends shaping marketing.”
What did Razorfish find in terms of how digital marketing was used in 2015? Here are a few of their key findings.
1. GENERATIONAL CHASM
Mobile dominates the Millennial shopping experience. A Millennial’s smartphone is their key to the world. As mobile payment technology grows, mobile is going to become an even more important part of the overall brand and retail experience. Millennials draw no practical distinction between online and offline.
Millennials’ constantly connected smartphones mean they no longer see a difference between “online” and “offline.” Technology has become an integral part of their lives, and it is how they interact with and experience brands, even when in traditionally “offline” environments. They don’t use media in silos. Rather, they use all of the tools at their fingertips at any given time, regardless of the device or platform.
Millennials are redefining privacy expectations. When compared to Gen X, Millennials are more likely to trust brands to protect their privacy-and less likely to think that mobile targeting is an invasion of privacy.
Plan for the Gen X / Gen Y digital divide. Millennials lead the pack when it comes to the adoption of technology, outpacing their Gen X counterparts in nearly every digital activity on a daily basis. Gen X-led organizations need to ensure that their brand experiences align with Millennials’ tech-led lives and that digital isn’t simply an afterthought in the brand planning process. Target carefully and with purpose.
2. THE DIGITAL EXPERIENCE ECONOMY:
Consumers are actively avoiding advertising. Consumers in all four markets (United States, United Kingdom, Brazil, China) report doing anything they can to avoid seeing advertising, and many are utilizing tools like DVRs to help them succeed.
Advertising is most effective when it is part of a value exchange. Consumers are now aware of how much their attention is worth to marketers, and they expect to be rewarded for it. They look to be compensated with loyalty programs, free content or useful tools that solve problems.
Brazil still has a cultural affinity to traditional advertising. Interestingly, Brazil remains more receptive to advertising than any of the other markets. Fifty-seven percent of Brazilian consumers endorse TV, radio and print ads as the most influential source of advertising. Therefore, it is important to understand that adding value means different things to different cultures.
Make yourself useful. Brands need to offer their customers services beyond core products and add some real value to peoples’ lives, if they are not already. Consumers are more likely to stick with a brand if they feel it makes their lives easier.
3. SEAMLESS COMMERCE
Digital is the new storefront. A good e-commerce site is not just a nice-to-have; it has a major impact on your brand. The numbers speak for themselves: 84% of people in Brazil and 92% of people in China say that a bad brand website negatively impacts their opinion of the brand. Seventy-three percent and 79% of people in the U.S. and U.K., respectively, agree.
Current e-commerce experiences fall short of expectations. Even with the massive accomplishments made in the evolution of commerce, consumers are still not impressed. Current e-commerce experiences, return policies and shipping options are falling flat in cultivating satisfied customers.
Consumer journeys are peppered with dead ends. Although consumers no longer view a distinction between online and offline brand channels, brands are not yet structured to support this outlook. This creates a tension between what consumers want and what brands are providing, forcing consumers to jury-rig solutions.
Empower your customer. Inflexible returns policies, in particular, are a major point of friction in both the online and offline retail experiences. A good return policy is an easy way to differentiate your brand from the competition, build loyalty and earn trust.
4. DIGITAL CONDITIONING
Consumers admit to technology dependence. Over three-quarters of consumers in all four of the markets surveyed admitted to often feeling dependent on technology. Many elements are cited for the development of this dependence, including utility, connectivity and the positive emotions they associate with it.
We’ve been exposed to digital classical conditioning. As proven by Pavlov, repeatedly pairing two cues can elicit a classically conditioned response. This is equally true for many consumers who use smartphones-the light or sound emitted from the device triggers a response of immediate attention.
Instant gratification is not always preferred. Remarkably, consumers in all four markets reported more excitement when receiving a purchase in the mail than when buying in the store. This illuminates an interesting aspect of shopping that is specific to e-commerce- the power of pleasurable anticipation and delayed gratification.
Use “surprises and delights” to your advantage. Without turning brand communications into a carnival of push notifications and flashing buttons, you can still create pleasurable moments of anticipation around routine events for a brand. Smart marketers will play around with game mechanics in the shopping and purchasing process, while ensuring it doesn’t get in the way of simplicity and service.
5. EMERGING MARKETS IN THE FAST LANE
Consumers in Brazil and China are tech-hungry early adopters. This data shows that Internet users in these markets rely on technology for every part of their lives and continually look for more ways to integrate it.
Consumers in countries with lower Internet penetration may be the most demanding online. There are unexpectedly high expectations for digital services and websites in countries with lower Internet penetration. In particular, there is a very strong desire in Brazil and China for e-commerce to improve.
Tech savvy spans all generations. While there is an important digital divide between Millennials and Gen Xers in the United States and United Kingdom, these demographic differences aren’t so pronounced in Brazil and China.
Consider Brazil and China as early adopters. Emerging markets like these are exciting places to test new technology. These consumers are not afraid of technology and are actively looking for new ways to use it in their daily lives.