To ride the technology wave, companies must keep their ear to the ground and match innovation to their customers’ needs.
The venture capitalist Marc Andreessen once said that software is eating the world. You don’t have to look very far to see that in action. The emergence of COVID-19 paved the way for the virtual world to become our reality. Before, social media had merely impacted the way we connected with one another. Now, we are living and breathing these platforms.
The pace of change today is the slowest it’ll ever be. As a business executive, you need to keep your pulse on emerging trends to avoid disappointing customers and falling behind competitors.
Here are four ways technology is already shaping consumer behavior—and what they mean for your business.
1. Content bombing and shorter attentions spans
It’s no secret that content is the reigning king of digital marketing. You know it, I know it, brands know it. Technology has made content creation a very handy and accessible tool, resulting in an obscene amount of daily brand new content with different looks, creative feels, elements of surprise, and inspiring messages, all aimed to grab the customer’s attention and stand out. It’s no wonder this field has become highly saturated.
Because of this content overload, customers have reduced their attention spans. Today, viewers spend less than 15 seconds looking at your content. The popular 15 second Instagram stories, and the five second YouTube ads probably make much more sense now. With so many options and so much information to grasp on, customers are having trouble ingesting all of it, making their attention much more selective.
Alas, your digital marketing strategy must ensure that your content stands out, highlights your brand’s USP, and includes a call to action, all in a simple, straightforward, yet unique format that requires less than 15 seconds of attention.
2. Mobile first - Building an omnichannel experience
You’ve probably heard this before: mobile comes first. Always. In the age of information, people are more interconnected than ever. We no longer go online, we live online.
As previously mentioned, the rise of Covid-19 made us realize that almost everything could be done through the internet. The absence of in-person interactions didn’t keep us from getting things done. Soon enough we were studying, working, doing extracurriculars, exercising, having a drink with friends, and basically doing every single thing online.This also meant that daily usage of mobile devices increased dramatically and brands had to adjust to the format. Everything had to fit into a smartphone screen, and the potential to lose customers due to lack of adaptability became quite costly.
Now, as we shift back to “normal life”, the consumer expects nothing less than a personalized, seamless customer experience where they can jump through channels as smoothly as possible.
This experience may start with the consumer researching a product on Google, finding what they are looking for in an ad linked to the brand’s social media channels, evaluating the different alternatives by talking to sales representatives through these different platforms, and hopping onto the company’s website through a redirected link to make the transaction, all from the comfort of their smartphones. Afterwards, they can choose to have the product delivered or pick it up at the store. The transition between digital, e-commerce and brick and mortar now starts with a mobile device, so be sure to make your brand mobile-friendly at all touchpoints.
3. Higher consumer expectations
Technology has enabled consumers to have as many options as imagined. With an extensive array of choices, consumers are quick to look at the competitor brand when their experience isn’t going great.
A common example is when sales representatives take too long to answer online inquiries. This is also why customers are more likely to share negative reviews rather than positive ones, because they expect nothing less than for all their experiences with a brand to be satisfactory at the least. A brand able to fulfill customer’s needs effectively and on demand is now the norm, and customers are quick to publicly protest against the ones that have disappointed them.
As technology continues to shape consumer behavior, brands have to think about how they can go beyond the consumer’s expectations in order to meet needs they didn’t even know they had. Though technology increases consumer expectations, it also provides brands with the tools to meet them. For instance, customer service has now adapted to AI-powered chatbots, available to consumers at all times as an easier and quicker way to provide information, resolve questions, all whilst preventing consumers from walking away due to slow responses. Chatbots also enable a large gathering of customer data, which can later be used to identify pain points and further meet customer expectations.
4. Augmented Reality: Adding magic to the user experience
The modern user experience took a major turn when augmented reality apps were introduced. Customers are now happier than ever visualizing through holographic interactions how their potential purchases could look like in their day-to-day. From Sephora’s virtual try-on experience to Ikea’s furniture testing, consumers are able to play around and test products before purchase with a quick smartphone scan.
Augmented reality works wonders: It closes the gap between the customer’s lingering doubts and their purchase decision, by providing a sneak peak of their own personalized posesion of the product. This life-like, authentic, and customized experience has dramatically improved user satisfaction, and created a closer bond between the customer and the brand.
Without a doubt, technology in the digital age is constantly changing consumer behavior and brands need to enthusiastically adapt, even add a twist of their own, to keep their competitive advantage.
Technology at the service of the customer
Technology is a powerful tool that influences and shapes consumer behavior. As new technologies emerge to disrupt industries, companies of all sizes can’t afford to sit on the sidelines. They must put consumer needs first in order to emerge victorious.