1 year ago
What keeps us marketeers awake at night? Quite often it’s the constant pressure of meeting the KPIs next quarter or this fiscal. Or, best case scenario, we have a roadmap for a year or two ahead. But that’s not enough these days. The world is moving so fast and it’s getting quicker. To get a hint of what might happen in the future, let’s take a look 12 years back – it’s not really a fair comparison, but at least we’ll get an idea.
2006 was definitely the most important year for social media. Twitter was established. Facebook was finally launched to the public. YouTube was sold after a short 17 months of existence to Google (for $1.65B). Let’s admit it, for some of us this was the moment we began to acknowledge that there was such a thing as online video. Think about the present - not many successful campaigns in the western world would've succeeded without them.
Any time someone starts talking about innovations, what comes first to my mind is the iPhone. 12 years ago, it wasn’t even here. Jobs’ legendary keynote was in 2007 and he was mocking the the use of a stylus. (Go figure, ask an average teenager now what a stylus is). There are now around 20 models of iPhone across 14 generations and most of us have probably owned three or four at least. By the way, that whole thing about a smartphone having the same power as NASA back in the moon landing days is far from the truth. Even the four-year-old iPhone 6 has 120-million times bigger computational power than what NASA had back then.
The most important thing about this is it's all happening at exponential speed. Try to make 10 exponential 'steps' where the first one is one metre, the second is two metres etc. Just the first 10 steps will add up to more than one kilometre... but make it 26 and you have just gone around the globe. And that’s the point. The human brain can’t think exponentially. Yet most technology innovations happen exactly at this speed. Is there a way to predict anything? I'm not sure. But think sci-fi, and that might help.
How does this relate to brands then? Millennials and Gen Z have already grown up with this immense pace. It seems normal to them and they can easily adapt. Can your brand do the same? Let’s look at someone who’s 25, living in a big city. Spends hours a day on social media, listens to Spotify, takes pictures and chats with friends. When going to a party, they make the trip back home with Uber. Holidays (and even business trips) are strictly through Airbnb. And then, coming home, his/her financial institution asks for a branch visit. This leads to a very important thing – cross-category customer experience. It is not enough to be the best in your category. You need to be top-notch compared to everyone. Consumers are asking now: why isn’t it so easy and simple like Amazon? Why isn't customer care the same as Apple/KLM/you-name-it? Why can’t I do things online?
Day-to-day there’s new brands popping up that know how to work with these customers. The CX (and the tech) is just part of their DNA. Look at Dollar Shave Club (before being bought by Unilever) or at Lemonade insurance. Disrupting the hundred-year-old and super-stable categories from absolute scratch, within just a few years of existence. And there’s more. Google Assistant can now make restaurant bookings for you. Now just imagine it knows details from your credit card – and based on your previous visits automatically asks the restaurant for a discount. Now your business has just turned to B2AI!
Let’s wrap up – every day new technologies are launching (my favourite this year? Over the air wireless charging). New business models change behaviour (subscriptions for everything: razors, socks, cars, ties, vegetables… you name it). And then there's artificial intelligence. Once we find out where the best insurance deal can be negotiated by Alexa (and then revised each month), we’ll leave it to her.
So where does your brand stand in this? Some say that 50% of the brands currently in S&P500 won’t be there in 10 years. You can take it as a threat, or as a huge opportunity. The question isn’t if it comes, but when.
Jaroslav Malina is chief digital officer at McCann Prague