Consumer expectations are rapidly shifting as technologies like mobile, geolocation, social media — and increasingly, Internet of Things devices and wearables — connect people to a world of easily accessible information and convenient services.
Wunderman Thompson recently conducted research, which shows that 88% of consumers said that service matters most to them
, compared to just 78% who said brand.
Consider the example of some of the world's leading on-demand brands such as Uber, Airbnb and Netflix. They have captured massive global customer bases — not by making large investments in branding and advertising but by delivering the product or service that their customers need at the right moment in time.
Their brands are powerful and this brand power flows from their ability to serve consumers at their point of need. To take another instance, one of the factors that make Amazon such a powerhouse is its ability to rapidly and conveniently fulfill orders for one of the world's largest selections of products.
Not only can consumers in most parts of North America and the United Kingdom get next-day or even same-day delivery of a wide range of goods, but they also have the option to schedule delivery at a time that suits them for a small cost premium.
Elsewhere, we are seeing clothes and even durable goods becoming on-demand services rather than treasured possessions. Many younger people in the United Kingdom are treating clothing as a disposable item, ordering new clothes nearly every week using services such as Asos.com's instant delivery.
What matters more than the label is having a new outfit to sport in every selfie — delivered to the doorstep at a time that is convenient to them. This is just the beginning. The next step for on-demand brands will be to not only deliver at the point that the consumer expresses a requirement but before the customer even knows he or she needs a product.
For example, the tyres on your car may soon have embedded sensors that detect when the tread is getting thin and it will send a message to order new ones. This is already becoming commonplace with internet-connected devices such as fridges and coffee machines that automatically order replenishments, according to your predefined preferences.
According to research by Wunderman Thompson, consumers are already warming up to these concepts in their personal capacity, which it calls 'programmatic commerce'
. In 2016, only 10% of consumers said they were ready to enter into auto-replenishment relationships with brands. But by the end of 2017, this number had already climbed to 46% and it now sits at 57% in 2018.
Steadily, consumers are looking past fears about privacy or companies billing them for products that they don't want or need because they love speed and convenience. The brands that want to remain relevant in the future will need to understand customer engagements and technology, which allows them access and insight into their customers' needs.
The technical architectures that allow them to meet the customer's needs are going to sit at the heart of their business to enable the right time and place of demand. Businesses will need to focus on creating fast-friction digital interfaces to serve an impatient consumer who will pick the service he or she can access quickest.
Having a prominent brand and getting the consumer's attention is not
enough — winning is about offering the best and fastest service.
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.*Image courtesy of Vecteezy