There is one ongoing, powerful shift in consumer expectation: “Why own a single product, when I can have access to the right product when (and only when) I need it?” Now more than ever, consumers thirst after the “new” and a constant stream of new products. One way inventive brands are reconciling ownership, access and fueling “newism” is by offering access when needed to an alternative or backup product which overcomes limitations in the original, puts right an emergency or addresses a common pain point. In 2015 and beyond, customer-centric brands will offer a Plan B.
Example: When BMW launched the electric i3 vehicle in October 2013, they announced that i3 owners would also get reduced rate, on-demand access to a gas-powered car, particularly for long distance trips. BMW partnered with car rental service Sixt to offer i3 owners a 20% discount when renting a BMW car.
Millions of consumers worldwide have had enough of ineffective virtual ‘assistance’ by web or phone. What’s more, they’ve been enjoying on-demand face time with their friends for years now. The tech exists – why can’t brands catch up? Now, forward-thinking brands are finally doing just that: by providing webcam-enabled face-to-face interaction with their customer service representatives – as and when consumers need it.
Example: In March 2014, online retailer ASOS and Nike co-hosted a shoppable Google + Hangout to celebrate 27 years of Nike’s Air Max trainer. The Hangout was hosted by MTV freelance stylist Natasha Wray and ASOS fashion editor Zeba Lowe, who offered styling tips. Meanwhile, viewers could buy Nike products via a specially generated ad within the Google Display Network.
Deliver (More than) the Goods.
In 2015, smart brands will see delivery as so much more than functional. Whether that means cramming additional services and added extras into their delivery, delivering to unusual (and mobile) locations, or turning a standard delivery service into a force for broader good in the world, they’ll DELIVER (MORE THAN) THE GOODS.
Example: In May 2014, Pizza Hut Panamá launched Oven Delivery: a delivery service that cooks pizzas whilst they are in transit. Electric ovens were installed on the back of motorcycles to reduce delivery time and improve the quality of the pizza. In 2013, Domino’s Pizza UK released a concept video for a drone capable of delivering pizzas called a “DomiCopter”. Although there are no concrete plans to make drone pizza delivery a reality, we may not be too far off.
Smart sensors, face and object recognition technologies and wearable devices mean it’s possible to gather and analyze information about consumers – their location, preferences, purchasing histories and much more – in real-time as never before. Now, consumers in physical spaces will increasingly expect the use of real-time data to shape and enhance the service they receive. In 2015, it’s time for brands to develop and use a SIXTH SENSE for information.
Example: In June 2013, Russian cosmetics retail chain Ulybka Radugi introduced cameras and emotion recognition software at checkout counters. The cameras can read consumers’ facial expressions and register emotions. Information is stored alongside the consumer’s loyalty card number and purchase details to create a personalized profile with targeted campaigns and promotions.
In 2015, smart brands will realize that it’s often other consumers who have the greatest impact on customer experience – good or bad. So they’ll encourage every consumer to do their bit when it comes to creating a positive atmosphere and ensuring processes run smoothly.
Example: In 2013 MTS India unveiled special trash cans at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender festivals in Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata. Designed to help minimize trash at the events, for each item deposited in the cans, people were rewarded with a code giving them free wifi access. When festival-goers entered their unique code, an automated message was sent across their social networks, telling their connections about the Indian telco’s special bins.
In conclusion, it’s not about the trends. Ultimately, trends are only a means to an end. The goal is simply to delight, surprise, and serve consumers in interesting and innovative ways. How will you show your customers you care this year?