There’s a big difference between listening and hearing.

Post-digital, the imperative for ambitious brands is not to listen to, but to hear and act on what matters to customers.

A new norm.
It took customers less than a decade to master the triple whammy of smartphones, social media and 24/7 connectivity, and to weave these into their routines. Having done so, they now take all this for granted and have moved on. Yet digital has both empowered and changed customers. It has:

  • put unprecedented power in their hands, and taught customers how to leverage this;
  • driven a permanent rupture in their behaviours, expectations, attitudes, and loyalties;
  • raised the bar for brands online: customers are less forgiving, and more susceptible to tech-based competition.

The new norm of post-digital customers has emerged.

What this means for brands.
Once upon a time brands could get away with talking about, rather than actually being customer-focused. That’s no longer sustainable.

The risk for brands is that tech-based competitors build direct relationships with their customers, and hollow out previously-viable business models.

This grows ever more important as tech players establish themselves in the space between brands and their customers, and the digital agenda evolves from disruption to displacement.

The risk for brands is that tech-based competitors build direct relationships with their customers, and hollow out previously-viable business models.

Three challenges.
Three challenges for brand decision makers fall out of this:

  1. to leverage digital’s strengths, without allowing tech-based competition to erode the brand’s essential connection with customers.
  2. to cut through the endless flow of customer info into the brand, to focus on what matters (‘the signal’), and ignore all else (‘the noise’).
  3. to shape brand strategy around this, so all investments, resources and activities align with, and play into what matters to customers.

Which is what we help ambitious brands do.

Understanding post-digital customers: a major new study
We wanted to understand more about post-digital customers – to bring to life who they are and how they view being ‘customers’.

We have now completed a ground-breaking new study, combining ethnography, journalism, film and photography, in-home interviews and a large-scale research study. Our work on ‘Post-digital Customers’ will be published in 2018 as a major report in 2018*.

For now, view our Customer portraits on our website, or download our presentation from the 2017 Customer Summit.

*To request an advance copy…

Post-digital customers

  1. Have been empowered by digital and taught how to use this power (think of the smartphone as ‘a seminar in your pocket’). They love the direct, 24/7 access to brands, networks and platforms that digital has given them; but are increasingly aware this has not come without cost.
  2. Want to be respected by the brands they do business with, and treated as equals, not patronised. They don’t want to be taken for granted or ‘label-ed’, but expect to be dealt with ‘on my terms’ (which includes being left alone). They know their custom gives them power (‘It’s my money they’re after’), so they expect brands to hear, not ‘listen’.
  3. Are more assertive about what is – and is not – acceptable. This is most evident online though the increased expectations that digital has driven are carried over offline. Customers are less tolerant of poor service, errors or incompetence, and expect ‘experiences’ to be good.
  4. Are marketing-savvy and know the value of the information that digital gives brands. They expect this to be well used and, increasingly, get riled when this is not the case: for example, customers are at risk of being turned off by ‘advanced’ digital marketing. GDPR could be the game-changer.

Source: ‘Post-digital customers’ research, a definitive study of modern customers to be published in January 2018.