5 trends heralding the birth of retail-culture

2017 is thought to be the year customer experience will be the primary brand differentiator

While the role of experience in brand growth has been well validated, the rules of the game have changed – Forrester predicts “fast-moving customers might not be your customers for long. Use tech to win their trust, loyalty and spend”.
Through Tensational™ insight we are continually tracking how people’s lives are changing and what this means for brands to shape their innovation. To kick off 2017, Household has captured the buzzwords that will define how brands need to engage customers to be successful. We’re calling this the year of the supercharged customer and seeing the birth of ‘retail-culture’.
How do you win hearts in a post-truth world? Emotion is winning as the most important influencer in shaping customer opinion. As belief in ‘facts’ or objective ‘truth’ fades, disenfranchised customers are relying on gut instinct to decide what intuitively makes sense. Brands need to focus on ‘heart-appeal’ first, as decisions become increasingly impulsive and of-the-moment.
How can customers be incentivised into action through brand storytelling? Mixed reality, the new buzzword for combining virtual reality and augmented reality, will be the new storytelling tool, making brand truths real through experience. Amplified by mixed reality tools such as Intel’s Project Alloy, which blends real, virtual and augmented reality, storytelling can be more immersive and impactful than ever before in connecting with customers and driving talkability.
To maximise return on storytelling, customers must be able to ‘insta-buy’ in the moment of desire, wherever they are, without friction. Retail will be boundary-less, bringing products and services to wherever customers are, instantly available in the moment of need. As conversational commerce takes off and interacting via voice becomes mainstream, the importance of easy purchasing, activated either at the touch of a button or voice command will increase.
How will you connect with customers that are most influenced by their own ‘relationship groups’? Brands such as Adidas are taking to messaging apps to build hyper local communities, encouraging brand love through unique content and experiences. Targeting attitudinal rather than demographic profiles will allow brands to push forward in the race for relevance. There is widespread rejection of rigid classifications of identity, and brands should rethink their segmentation method to connect through shared attitudes and life goals.
As people continue to craft their social image with every click, EgoTech has raised its head, affirming identity based on choices. More people will welcome voice-activated personal assistants such as Emotech’s Olly into their homes, tech which moulds to its user’s personality, and is always on, always listening. Becoming ever smarter in predicting buying behaviour based on its user’s personal attitudes, its influence will far outweigh poorly targeted brand communications.
Tech innovation is continually infiltrating customers’ everyday lives and yet we are moving away from robotic-like interactions. We crave human stories, personal brand relationships, and are most convinced by what our peers and we experience as real. Offering unique, timely experiences to specific communities will keep customer-brand relationships fresh and interesting, as customers expect to be excited with something new in every engagement. Smart experiences will drive desire by engaging all the senses, using relevant tech to make the experience emotive and share-worthy. Appealing to the senses has the power to influence customers in the moment, as after all, selling a feeling matters more than the product or service itself. It will be emotionally-charged tools that make brands win with a supercharged customer in 2017.

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