Redefining Consumer Economy — the Experience Way

by Sunder Madakshira

posted on 03-31-2019

Technology today is powering the next stage of growth across sectors and digital has fast emerged as the medium of this movement. Whether it is redefining the existing landscape by integrating offline and online experiences or modern businesses moving beyond the usual hubs to tier-two and tier-three cities, digital is increasingly contributing toward shaping the way India operates.

With accessibility, new-age consumers today are more aware of the various ways in which technology can empower them. This has contributed to a rise in expectations from the brands they interact with. Customers today expect experiences tailored specifically to their individual needs being served via channels that excite them the most. Therefore, the imminent need for businesses today is to develop strategies that not only focus on customer acquisition but on loyalty that lasts. To stand apart from the crowd, brands today need to develop an intrinsic connect with a digital-first customer.

It is safe to say that today’s customers have come to embrace and cherish experiences, but what are the important factors that brands need to be cognizant of and adopt as India gets ready to redefine the existing norms of a consumer economy?

Mobile and millennials — a potent combination

India has witnessed technological adoption at an unprecedented pace in the past two decades, a trend which started in the final few years of the 20th century. Riding on the liberalization wave, India saw the emergence of an aspirational middle class which contributed to rapid adoption and employment of technology by both state and private enterprises in order to meet the needs of this new class of “dreamers.” Today we are at a similar juncture, with millennials using the power of mobile to affect a faster deployment of accessible, impactful technology across sectors. Powered by improved connectivity and cost-efficient data models, mobile is playing a major role in revolutionizing the integration of experiences and driving accessibility of digital solutions for customers with increased expectations across sectors.

From roti (bread), kapda (clothing), makaan (house) to pizza, pajamas, and purpose

India’s new class of employees and customers, the Gen Z, unlike its predecessors, is more global in its outlook and more decisive of what it expects from all stakeholders they interact with. For them, an ideal workplace is one which values its employees, is flexible in its operations, accepting of its workforce, and, most importantly, one that serves a higher purpose than just revenue generation. Millennials today are looking to engage with employers and brands which align with a purpose that they (millennials) associate with (i.e., organizations that are looking beyond just the bottom line). According to a predictions report by Forrester titled, “Transformation Goes Pragmatic,” 50 percent of the CMOs in APAC region will bring the brand back as their top priority in 2019. This would involve increased attention to remaking or revitalizing the brand, reaffirming and honing purpose to re-establish (or, in some cases, merely establish) the connection among their firm’s purpose, brand, and experience, a move clearly reflective of the way brands are beginning to approach modern, aware customers.

Creative, effective communication

In a world which is connected more than ever, we also live in one that under communicates. An amalgamation of creativity with data, when aligned with the brand purpose, can contribute to an effective brand communication strategy. Modern-day technological advancements can supercharge the creative process by providing rich insights into highly targeted niche consumer groups. Utilizing this combination of data and creativity to tell engaging, compelling, and exciting stories is an important aspect in attracting a potential customer for brands today.

Responsible deployment of technology

While technology today is all pervasive and an indispensable part of powering experiences, there is a growing clamor for its responsible deployment. According to Adobe’s Experience Index Report 2018 (India), businesses fared second-lowest in the “making technology transparent” category (i.e., consumers today are more aware and want to be educated about the drawbacks and possible shortcomings of the technologies they are accessing). Moreover, with data privacy issues surfacing on a mass scale during the past few years, there’s a requirement today more than ever to balance the need for customer information (to craft exceptional experiences), and respect the customer’s privacy and hold it in utmost regard.

As we embark and operate in an experience economy, only the best of brands with a vision to harness disruption — the new normal — will succeed. “Frictionless experience,” as rightly mentioned by Ravi Santhanam, CMO of HDFC Bank during last year’s Adobe Symposium, will be the way forward for brands when tailoring solutions for their customers. This new experience economy will be one that is rooted in unpredictability in customer behavior and dominated by personalization of experiences by brands. It will be one wherein customer experiences across touchpoints won’t just be a supplement to products or services catered, but the deal maker or deal breaker for even the biggest of behemoths in their respective categories.

Topics: Digital Transformation, APAC