VP, Research Director
Boston Convention and Exhibition Center
We’re experiencing one of the most innovative eras in consumer history. This boom is driving opportunity for brands and buyers alike. And yet, Forrester research shows that the very facets making companies successful today are also causing their greatest challenges. Join Brigitte Majewski, Forrester Research director, as she reveals these paradoxes and offers a toolkit to reconcile them.
It's never been a better time to be a consumer, according to Brigitte, because so many Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) disruptors have emerged to address pain points in hundreds of industries. (Eg, customized insurance for freelancers or lunch delivery for employees of commercial spaces caught in restaurant voids. represent pain points DTC is aggressively addressing.)
In 2015, Forrester correctly predicted hyper-adoption would ensue, which means it's also a great time to be a DTC disruptor -- consumers will try you! However, Forrester also correctly predicted hyper-abandonment. This is the first of three central paradoxes of the Age of the Customer, which follows the Age of Manufacturing, the Age of Distribution and the Age of Information:
Paradox 1: Hyper-adoption leads to hyper-abandonment.
However, a third Forrester prediction in the same study was incorrect: that consumers would have less emotional attachment in the midst of hyper-adoption and hyper-abandonment; the opposite is the case. Consumers are not just rapidly, but passionately adopting and rejecting brands, leading to two additional central paradoxes:
Paradox 2: Hyper-innovation leads to hyper-expectation.
Paradox 3: Hyper customer obsession leads to hyper consumer dissatisfaction.
How can you navigate these three paradoxes in the Age of the Consumer? The first step is to recognize that, while consumers still evaluate on price, quality, trust and convenience, the factors to evaluate quality and trust have now changed.
Because of this, it is more important than ever to balance short-term and long-term goals and resources. Collecting and using data is vital, but not at the expense of alienating customers who find you "creepy." Being available for customer queries is important at the top of the funnel, but not at the expense of follow-up after the purchase.
Brigitte closed by pointing out that many brands create an emotionally inconsistent experience by focusing all emotional delivery before the purchase, but not after. Instead, she recommends Chewy's approach which dedicates an entire "Wow Department" to customer correspondence. Another example is Delta Airlines, which provides all employees attached to a flight a customer manifest detailing loyalty and connection status of each passenger. If a passenger has a tight connection, all the employees can work together to make deplaning easier.
Tom McClintock is the owner and founder of Relationship Martech.