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Why regional firms must focus on delivering value or risk losing consumers’ confidence

Why regional firms must focus on delivering value or risk losing consumers’ confidence

Consumers now place more importance on lifestyles and mindsets

Year after year, technology experts attempt to decipher which technology will impact our lives in the coming years.

In the past, we’ve seen predictions that have promised new applications of AI and machine learning, emerging realities, and advancements in social media and smart mobile devices. However, unlike previous years, we’re reaching what experts have dubbed an “innovation plateau” in 2019 – whereby the development of new technology has hit a flat point.

To thrive in this current climate, organisations and brand marketers must find ways to deliver real value, adaptability and personalisation with user interactions, but also provide a clear contribution to the circular economy and support emerging cultural norms around data, identity and wellbeing.

Whether brands can meet these new standards will ultimately be the deciding factor for the size of their market share. The latest Fjord Trends report identifies the biggest shifts in the digital realm. By staying informed of what lies ahead, organisations can make the right decisions and prepare a roadmap that will enable them to face this changing landscape.

Designing for disconnected users

Our digital lives are becoming a growing source of fear and distrust. While we struggle to navigate the stream of content funneled at us from all angles, the constant barrage of news relating to data breach scandals and manipulative data practices can paint an unwelcome picture of this electronic world.

The last two decades of technological change have led us to a point of over-saturation, where digital clutter is leaving consumers feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and less excited about the shiny new object. And as consumers, we’ve come to realise that it’s no longer simply a lifestyle choice, but a serious mental health issue. Now, after years of clutter, we are being propelled towards a necessary ‘digital spring clean’ – where we’re embracing brands and services that add value and are relevant to our lives, and discarding the rest.

Today’s organisations must look toward mindful design in light of the increasing correlation between the serious health consequences that can arise when dealing with brands that fail to offer the right balance. Decreased notifications, less invasive UIs, and even simplified feedback surveys will paradoxically make quieter brands stand out from the noise.

Turning to minimal data

2018 was a year of increased tension and rightfully earned criticism toward how organisations use – and misuse – user data. Social media platforms and established enterprise brands alike landed negative headlines throughout the year as their data security was repeatedly compromised.

We saw the long-held assumption that customers will happily share data with the organisations they deal with so long as they get better and more personalised products and services in return be proved wrong. Consumers are increasingly turning away from companies if they can’t trust that company to protect their data.

Therefore, companies must look to combine transparency and thoughtful use of data to support the user, to restore balance in gaining – and retaining– their trust.

There is a clear need for organisations to design for transparency, and for users to have peace of mind knowing that their data is being used responsibly for reasons explicitly stated. Personalised feeds and product recommendations can only hold so much value if users fail to choose brands because of their nebulous relationship with data.

Moving forward, organisations looking to gain trust among potential customers need to demonstrate their value when dealing with user data, and reach a state of ‘data minimalism’ – using only the data they need to deliver better experiences, products, and recommendations.

Driving value for all

The shifts this year are momentous, and the rewards for those that drive them reach beyond bottom line growth to improving the world we live in and developing trust. It sounds like a tall order, but there are clear philosophies from which to start.

For many years, companies looked to traditional demographic segments like age, gender, location, income or family status to help them understand their audience. However, in recent years, big institutions have finally started to acknowledge a variety of voices. We’re now witnessing a shift to ‘post-demographic consumerism’, where importance is being placed on lifestyles and mindsets.

As consumers increasingly crave products and services that feel tailored to their wants and needs, they will become less tolerant of those that only partly fulfil their needs and don’t solve an issue. More organisations will realise that statistical modelling has limitations and will switch to models that actively help them to achieve inclusivity. We’ll see new frameworks emerging, blending big data (quantitative), thick data (qualitative) and wide data (liquid expectations, trends, contextual insights and industry insights).

But providing value to diverse people, over and above merely recognising them in marketing material requires transparent and mindful design – addressing new standards and nuanced personal preferences at scale while being forthcoming with users. In time, AI will enable us to do this algorithmically, but first we need to draw on qualitative research and data to understand user needs and mindsets, to look beyond labels of customers, consumers, commuters and citizens.

Seizing the opportunity

We are well aware that we are at a crossroads. The past 20 years has brought along immense changes with the rapid technology growth and innovation generating both physical and digital clutter.

With increasing competition for our time and attention, success in 2019 will lie in providing value relevant not only to individuals, but also to the world. The goal should be not be to simply do more, but rather do better. The innovation plateau is an opportunity for organisations that offer value, not scale or legacy. With our lives getting busier ever day, there’s no room for irrelevance.

David Fregonas is head of Accenture Interactive for Middle East and Turkey

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