If Thursday morning’s controversial tweet from McDonald’s is any indication, brands are no longer safe. I’m not just talking about the threat of a data breach or hack — I’m talking about the threat of consumers who force brands to expose their ethics and beliefs or remain at the mercy of consumer perception and interpretation in a polarized environment. As we’ve seen with other examples of ubiquitous and once universally loved brands like Kellogg’s and L.L. Bean, consumers increasingly judge companies on the basis of their values — and while customers are skeptical of firms that stay silent, they open their wallets for those that champion appealing causes.
Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data reveals that this is hardly a passing cloud; customers are becoming more aware of — and sensitive to — social issues overall. For instance, more consumers regularly follow politics, read about science, and identify as being environmentally conscious today than in 2014:
As a music lover, this has been a year of goodbyes for me, with many of my teenage heroes like David Bowie, Prince, and earlier this week, George Michael, passing away. It makes you realize how fast time moves on, and nothing lasts forever. As I’ve shared before, I love this time of year: Thinking about what has been, and having a world of opportunities in front of us. And I can’t wait to see what next year will bring.
This year, there were a number of surprises and new developments that nobody predicted. And 2016 was the year of Pokémon. As my colleague Anjali Lai shared in an earlier blog post about this phenomenon: “The Pokémon Go phenomenon is not only about adopting technology or using new, cutting-edge features; it is also about designing a sticky experience that is enabled by the ways customers are changing.”
The fact that human beings make affinity and spend decisions based in large part on emotion is not new news. It is the underlying logic of advertising – heartstrings are the early sparks of revenue. But there is a reason that most companies have not baked emotion into experience design and into the day-to-day engagement with customers. It's hard to do.
Emotions are situational, dynamic, and hard to read. Yet the gulf between the science of emotion and the business of emotion is closing, creating a set of new tools to convert great experiences into sustained growth.
Last week during an online event, I brought together thought leaders, Anjali Lai, Harley Manning, and Roxie Strohmenger, to translate the science of emotion to the pragmatic business application of emotion. If you were unable to watch it live, here is the replay – and for good measure, here are key takeaways from our discussion:
Emotion is the next step in getting to know your customer.
The customer is now the center of the universe, and to win in this market, companies need to know – really know – their customer. Beyond satisfaction, advocacy, and journeys, companies must understand what makes customers tick and how to influence affinity and spend. Emotion is not the next thing "just because"; it gets to the heart and soul of operating in a customer-led market.
Consumers in Asia Pacific are in the midst of a digital transformation. Within the past decade, online penetration in China grew from 8% to 54%, while mobile internet access grew more than sevenfold. Today, the rate of customer evolution is gaining speed, as consumers are increasingly willing to experiment with new products, rely on devices, demand seamless digital experiences, consume large volumes of information, and are committed to seeking out the best experiences for themselves.
Forrester’s Empowered Customer Segmentation measures these key shifts in customer behaviors and attitudes and anticipates how consumers both respond to digital innovation and demand it. An analysis of our Consumer Technographics® data for Asia Pacific shows that the most rapidly evolving customers dominate in metropolitan China and metropolitan India:
Charles Dickens once wrote that: “Change begets change. Nothing propagates so fast.” In today’s evolving marketplace, where innovators are setting new customer expectations and companies are racing to meet rising demands, Dickens’ words ring true. The first step on a company’s path to thriving in this environment is understanding customers accurately – specifically, identifying how consumer expectations are changing and how fast.
Our Empowered Customer Segmentation measures critical shifts in customer behaviors and attitudes to gauge how consumers are both responding to innovation and demanding it. While the segments are globally consistent, we see insightful differences when applying the framework to unique markets. For example, Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data shows how the segments differ between Spain and France:
These country differences reveal unique opportunities and challenges for companies aiming to win or retain customers in Europe. For example, forward-looking brands such as Banco Sabadell and BBVA can engage Progressive Pioneers in Spain to test innovative concepts before planning a broader rollout. On the other hand, brands with large proportions of French Settled Survivors or Reserved Resisters can retain customers by convincing them of the effectiveness of an experience.
Within 24 hours of its launch, Pokémon Go broke app download records and user numbers began multiplying by the minute. It wasn’t long before mysterious names like “Jigglypuff” and “Squirtle” peppered daily conversation, stampedes of mobile-obsessed gamers became commonplace, and augmented reality approached a tipping point.