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Dealing with connected consumers in an information age

Dealing with connected consumers in an information age

Khaled Ismail offers 10 ways to help navigate the era of the connected consumer

Consumers today are no longer satisfied with what they are reading on the packages they are buying. Instead, we are seeing a shift across the world from consumers looking to gain more information about where the product has come from, what its environmental footprint is and how they can enjoy a richer experience with the brand itself.

Technology is at the heart of this change as unlimited information now rests in the palm of our hands through smartphones and connected devices.

Through research we carried out across 57 markets with 70,000 consumers, we have begun to understand the purchasing habits of modern consumers and the key stages during their decision process.

Central to this was a group of people – around 7 per cent of the online population that are seen as ‘super leaders’ and are the most active and social people online.

More than half (57 per cent) of them write brand reviews and product overviews every week and nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) say they are more likely to do so after a positive experience. In addition, more than three-quarters (78 per cent) expect brands to reply to their reviews and ratings, saying that interacting with brands on social media improves their opinion of that brand.

According to Statista, on average 95 per cent of consumers now place some importance on online reviews when making a purchasing decision. For brands now having to accommodate multiple touch points with their customers, new influencers that are shaping habits and the need to be entirely transparent about the product that is being sold, it can be a daunting task.

However, we have identified 10 key methods that will help brands to navigate the age of the connected consumer.

Think mobile: Connected consumers are using their smart device to seek out information about brands. They are expecting brands to have a presence online and want to be able to interact with them.

Be social, do not broadcast: While many brands have now established their social channels, few have succeeded in being sociable. The key is to provide content that people will want to share; they enjoy consuming and find a genuine benefit in using.

Work with influencers: Traditionally, brands have had to operate under regulations within the market they operate. However, the development of ‘super leaders’, online influencers that are shaping public opinion, means they too need to be engaged. Going above and beyond to satisfy this group of consumers will have a positive ripple effect.

Transparency: With the power of the internet, there are few things that brands are now about to hide from their customers. Instilled into each brand must be a desire to want to provide the consumer with as much information as possible.

Know your journey: Increasingly we are seeing connected consumers demand their brands act in an environmentally friendly way. It is no good if the brand itself feels it is acting responsibly, it needs to know the entire supply chain is operating to the same high standards.

Innovative technology: With the power of connected devices and the cameras that are in-built, there is no end to the experiences that can be provided. From augmented reality to online portals, packaging should now be seen as a gateway to creating an experience for the consumer.

Personalisation: Connected consumers are expecting a very personal experience when they shop. With their online shopping experience now so fundamentally shaped by the data they provide, it becomes a personalised event. Brands need to work out how to mirror that in the real world by augmenting smart device technology.

Content is king: In the age of micro videos and tweets, attention spans are decreasing. Connected consumers do not just want richer content; they want a variety of content. Brands should be thinking about ways of wringing every piece of content they can from marketing to diversify what they are putting out to the market.

Video, video, video: Sharing and using video content is one of the surest ways of reaching connected consumers. Not only is it a media that lends itself to every social platform out there, it provides brands with an SEO boost far and above written content, making it easier for consumers to find.

Make it fun: This is a new age that brands are entering. Going into it with a positive and open mind-set will make the process much easier as there will inevitably a degree of trial and error. However, once in the groove, brands will quickly see the benefit of walking in the connected consumer’s shoes.

While this is not an exhaustive list of tips and hints for brands, it is a solid foundation upon which to start. Each market is different, for example Saudi Arabia has one of the highest Twitter rates in the world and the ‘super leaders’ in the country rely on YouTube to help inform their decisions. Brands in that market should be looking at this and trying to work out how they can insert themselves into the appropriate conversations.

What appears on store shelves will almost be the most important part of what goes into making a brand successful. It would be wrong to think otherwise. However, brands that succeed in the coming years will be those that find a way to tie what is in-store with what is created digitally and create whole new shopping experiences for a generation brought up on connected devices.

Khaled Ismail is vice president of communications, greater Middle East and Africa region, at Tetra Pak

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