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This digital world gives branding a far more important role to play as consumers step away from the strictly brick-and-mortar aisle and into a truly integrated shopping experience. However, digital trends don’t only generate new opportunities through disruption, they open up new challenges in terms of building brand loyalty, cultivating perception, and making authentic connections.
Trend 1: Sixth Sense
Beacons, interactive signage, kiosks, app-enabled notifications…more and more technology is being implemented by retailers in an attempt to interact with and learn about their customers, and to customize in-store experiences for their constantly changing preferences. With an endless supply of information at their fingertips, consumer attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. This increased competition for attention means that brands need to consider the impact of mobile and digital technology on consumer habits. But it’s not all a fight to grab attention; this new technology gives retailers and brands the ability to collect data and understand the consumer on a subconscious level. This presents a great opportunity to utilize connected technology and help brands make business decisions.
Trends in digital will soon change the way consumers shop for everything, including everyday CPG goods such as food and personal care items. More consumers are going online for basic necessities through services like Amazon Prime Pantry. Shoppers can benefit from tailored content, product suggestions, and easily accessible information that will assist in making purchase decisions to best fit their busy lifestyles. As devices and apps keep consumers constantly connected, the information gathered with every interaction can enable greater efficiency and curated content, which will serve to further increase sales and loyalty. The more brands can learn about their audiences, the more targeted they can become, thus allowing big brands to connect to individuals like close friends.
Trend 2: Internet Everywhere
Digital and physical points of sale can no longer be viewed as separate. Digital connectivity presents the opportunity to create seamless shopping experiences across channels. There may be worry about potential cannibalization, and about brick-and-mortar ultimately becoming obsolete. However, the vast majority of transactions still occur in-store, with digital having an increasingly prevalent role within that shopping experience. 77 percent of all shoppers who utilize their smartphones during their paths to purchase still complete those purchases offline. This includes those who connect in-aisle to research brands, check reviews, and compare prices, engendering endless opportunities to connect products and consumers in new, seamless ways.
While many retailers view digital and physical touchpoints in different silos, today’s customers don’t see the difference. The Internet is an integral part of daily life: according to research, 68 percent of smartphone users check their phones within 15 minutes of waking up, and most will check their phones 150 times throughout day. CPG brands that recognize this as an opportunity and find innovative means of partnership, both online and in-store, will remain top-of-mind for the tech-savvy consumer. Tech-enhanced packaging is a tool for integrating digital and physical touchpoints, connecting shoppers with a wealth of digitally enabled information throughout their journeys. This technology seamlessly bridges the on-shelf retail experience and the at-home online engagement. This brings the brand to life in a way that relates to connected consumers, meeting their expectations for instant access to information with a swipe of a finger.
Trend 3: Personalized & Customized
Technology has enabled individuals to personalize their apparel, music, feeds of content, and everything in between. Couple this love—and expectation—of control with the buying power of millennials (and subsequently their Gen Z children) and there is a huge opportunity for CPG companies to align with this large target market. The hunt for the unique and the customized has millions of shoppers clicking through Etsy, browsing niche boutiques, and visiting the bulk aisles of the local organic markets. Delivering on this trend by enabling people to meet their particular goals, values, and desires through the products they buy will allow first-moving brands to stay ahead of the competition.
There’s a clear opportunity to invite individuals to become part of the development process or, at the very least, to involve them on a level that makes them feel understood and special. Consider, for example, eCreamery, which allows people to create and ship their own completely customized pints of ice cream. Research shows that consumer interaction with customizable brands increases engagement and brand loyalty. It’s not enough, however, to simply engage these consumers; they want to share everything and generate their own content. The opportunity lies, then, not only in co-creation, but also in allowing individuals to showcase their talents and products to others within their social circles.
Technology has enhanced people’s ability to exchange information, while also reducing time spent on interpersonal communications. Less time devoted to each individual connection paired with greater access to communication means social circles have become larger, but less intimate. This also opens up social experiences as part of the purchase decision, as evidenced by a greater reliance on bloggers and social media creators as “experts.” This reliance on technology, especially mobile and social media, also creates an expectation for the integration of technology into all stages of the shopping experience. “Smart” has become the new norm, which means consumers expect constant connection with their brands. Savvy brands are figuring out ways to adapt to these changing demands. The expansion of online ordering, specialized pickup windows, and subscription services throughout the US—which personalize and simplify experiences—are prime examples of this adaptation.
Omnichannel shopping also means that the face of brand loyalty is changing and adapting to new consumer lifestyles. Consumers crave deeper human connections from their brands, as their personal relationships become shallower—so brands must connect with individuals wherever they are, not make them come looking.
For more on how these prevailing trends apply across industries, check out Ready Set Rocket’s insightful report, Defining Tomorrow: What’s Next in Financial Services.