Matthew Ferrara, Philosopher
 

Six Trends of Modern Consumers

The modern consumer is more demanding, elusive and tech-savvy than ever, so keep these six trends in mind when trying to catch them!

Catching modern is tougher than ever. While core marketing principles still apply, your marketing strategy must reach an increasingly fragmented and attention-deficited consumer. So here are six important trends we think smart organizations should plan for today:

  1. Mobile, mobile, mobile. And the iPad. New data indicates consumers love using mobiles and tablets to research products, check reviews and purchase online. The days of browsing on the PC are dwindling. Yet too many web experiences remain formatted for large-screens, mice and keyboards. According to Local Corporation (via Emarketer.com), some 80% of consumers who own tablets use them to research and shop. This means  companies must specifically format messaging for the finger-tapping formats of tablets. Companies will benefit from tablet-toting consumers, too, by integrating better “information take-aways” via augmented reality and  QR codes. Remember: consumers use tablets before they visit in person, but also expect to use them in person, too.
  2. The Look-Say Generation Starts Spending. Many Millennials learned to read using the “look-say” or whole-word method (not phonics). Pedantics aside, the implications are visible in society, especially in ubiquitous “pictorial” communications. Chicken or egg: Smartphones have cameras or people prefer sending pictures to each other?  Well, it worked for the ancient Egyptians, didn’t it? Visual sharing is now so trendy, niche social networks like Pinterest are creating new markets of customers. A new study shows that almost one-third of photo-sharing network users clicked-through and made a purchase after seeing a product picture. Images and videos on Facebook and Twitter have long garnered the most feedback (see George Takei). Retool your communications to be photo-and-video-centric; it’s the key to communicating with the Next Generation of consumers.
  3. Social Networks are for socializing. Contrary to certain pre-IPO beliefs, consumers using Facebook rarely click on the ads. Apparently people like to socialize without ads on their cocktail napkins. Who knew? No surprise, then, that a survey from Greenlight says nearly 44% of people never clicked an ad or sponsored story in Facebook; another 31% rarely did. It’s obvious that content drives engagement socially. Since the majority of a brand’s social fans (84%) are existing customers (Nielsen, 2011), driving loyalty and referrals doesn’t need ads so much as conversation.
  4. Video created for on-the-go. Even with cellular data becoming more costly, consumers consume more mobile data annually. Cisco’s latest report shows wild numbers: Mobile data usage more than doubled for the fourth year in a row to nearly eight-times the size of the entire internet in 2000. Mobile video traffic reached 52% of all traffic for the first time ever. Cisco expects more than 100 million smartphone users to consume more than 1 GB of data per month by the end of 2012. Nearly two-thirds of all mobile traffic will be video by 2016. You get the picture: video consumption is exploding. But it’s on the “third-screen.” Even allowing for tablet growth, smartphones dominate mobile video. Marketers must rethink the visual canvas – for size – if they want video to be effective tomorrow.
  5. Bye Bye Waiting; Hello Customer Satisfaction. Leaving a voice mail is like asking someone for a stamp. Where have you been sleeping? Same for wading through auto-attendants and waiting on hold for customer support these days. Enter text messaging and Twitter. Customers get a live person faster than phone, email, and self-serve web, for a quick question like: is cable internet out, is my plane delayed, and is my dentist appointment confirmed? Saying you offer an 800-number for customer service is like asking customers to wait 2-4 weeks for delivery. Tweet it, or lose customers.
  6. The Rental Price Model. Look around: You’ll be surprised at what you rent, not own, these days. Your cable box, home phone, copy machine, car, even major appliances are increasingly leased, rented or otherwise “paid per month.” It’s the result of “upgrade Syndrome” that burned out all the VCR and PC users in the 1980s. Modern consumers want the newest features without the full price. So they rent movies, rather than buy BlueRay, lease software, rent cars by the hour, even get legal advice on monthly subscription from LegalZoom. This trend will challenge anyone who has traditionally charged all or nothing; Yet creating a partial-ownership pricing models will open up vast new segments of customers who otherwise would have remained out of reach.
As the modern consumer takes full advantage of the ever-expanding universe of alternatives in the modern global economy, fighting for your share of the market will depend upon how well you account for these six trends – and possibly more.
Are you seeing other trends, too? Tell us your trends in comments below.