The impact of the digital age on the marketing process has created a shift from a fixed process to something that is more fluid that is going to create challenges and opportunities for us in the future. In the era of fluid, digital has unhitched everything from the kind of fixed points that we have grown used to managing in the past.
- Points of Access
The location of shopping is no longer fixed to a brick or mortar location or even a website, and now moves with the customers as she carries mobile devices that guide her shopping and decision process, which means the context itself has even become more fluid. This shopper could be making the very same purchases from the comfort of her bed or while waiting in the parking lot. It's now the marketers job to identify the new cycle of buyer decision making and adjust channels of engagement accordingly.
We're all familiar with the likes of dynamic pricing in which we see personalized pricing, auction based pricing, occasion based pricing and even weather based pricing. Prices can change online thousands of times an offer depending of various internal and external demand factors, complimentary purchases, deals and site traffic. As we see the rise of virtual stores, mobile scanning of QR codes, home delivery and anywhere-anytime shopping access so now the 'e' in e-Commerce refers to 'everywhere' instead of just 'electronic'.
The biggest change perhaps is the process by which consumers make decisions, refer to the Purchase Fish, theorized by The Futures Company. We have tried to utilize social marketing techniques to improve and increase the engagement of brands with consumers. All in all, there's nothing wrong with that. But if we were to analyze the Purchase Fish it would be noted that consumers invest more time in themselves and each other (peers) than, so is it not time for brands to facilitate and foster those relationships on a platform of common values?
And indeed, that's how social media came into being, not as a means for brands to engage with customers, but as a means for people to connect or reconnect with friends, family and loved ones. If we are to focus on this insight and the presence of a new mindset, shouldn't the time come for brands to step up and be the force that binds? And it is through these intermediary interactions in the Purchase Fish that people will eventually find their way through the purchase process.
Brands need to be in the business of delivering social currency i.e. the currency that people spend to gain relationships with other people. The more social currency spent by people, the more financial currency they prefer to allot towards the brands that fulfills their goals. There are four ways of generating social currency:
- Contribution campaigns
- Join In
- Sign up
- Team Up
3. Push based marketing
4. Location based marketing
There are lots of different ways in which brands can give people the currency they need to thrive on a platform, collaborate to learn and engage with peers with similar interests. Brands then facilitate and foster the ability of people to have deeper and meaningful online and offline relationships. Fluidity is not just the new reality but it is a fundamental change to the business model. This in no way suggests escaping the model of 'brands engaging consumers' but what a marketer must do is be the bridge that brings people together.
Babar is an Entrepreneur in Residence, charged with building Ephlux Insights and a mentor at The Aman Foundation, teaching under the 'Junior Achievement' program funded by the US Government. Reach him at @babarkj