My blog this week sees us delving deeper into the New Normal we’re all trying to do business in is, how it affects brands and the problems it presents.
DVO is actively solving the problems brands face in the New Normal. But what exactly do we mean when we refer to the ‘New Normal’. Here at DVO, we’re not massive fans of the latest, meaningless industry buzz words and phrases, so before you tar us with that brush, hear us out.
In its simplest form, the New Normal refers to ‘the current state of being after some dramatic change has transpired’. This could be many things; socio-economic, environmental, technical or political. Think how things have changed forever after the Berlin Wall came down, or since the Internet came into our lives, or more recently, post-Brexit. There’s been a shift and the world is different now and can’t go back to how it was before. In most cases, this is a great thing. These sometimes dramatic, sometimes small-scale shifts, whether local, national or international, change our lives and help us to grow, change and evolve. Essentially, they are what creates our modern society, the world we see and experience. And we have to each find our own place in that.
The New Normal we are facing today, in terms of the technical revolution that has happened in the last 10 years, is slightly different in that it is a constantly shifting beast rather than a singular event. Technology is moving very quickly, more quickly than we’ve seen previously and its accessibility is unlike ever before. The majority of people, from as young as 7 or 8, up to 70 or 80, have access to high speed Internet, tablets and smartphones. This in itself is pretty mind-blowing to me, considering when I first started working, we didn’t have email. And I swear, I’m not that old!
The combination of such sophisticated, accessible technology has irreversibly changed the way consumers go about their daily lives. We now use our phones in every aspect of our life; communication, shopping, interaction, research, listening to music, planning, gaming, life administration, watching TV and so much more, it is all done through our phones. Seriously, what did we do without them? Mobile phones have consolidated so many things (I mean, think about it, it wasn’t that long ago we all got excited and went out and bought an iPod. Who uses them now???) that they have become an essential tool to modern day life. It also means that consumers expectations have changed dramatically. Everything is accessible, all the time (3G/4G willing) and this has changed what was once a linear customer journey into a series of interactions across multiple touch points. And unsurprisingly, brands have struggled to keep up.
Buying behaviour has become much more complex, with myriad stages that can fill marketers with dread as they try to unpick where research, desire, intent, commitment and emotion fit into their mix. So, for example, do left items in a basket count as intent to buy, research or merely an exercise in price comparison? If someone clicks through on your Facebook offer but doesn’t complete the process is that an emotional interaction with your brand or just someone wanting something for free who actually couldn’t give a monkeys about you or your products? And how do you tell the difference?
This complex web of interaction has essentially put the power back into the hands of the consumer. They choose when, they choose how, they choose what and really, they choose how much. If they find you even slightly lacking, then they will drop you like a stone. Harsh I know, but that’s where we are. And we need to find a way to deal with it.
Brands’ reaction to this New Normal consumer is often to turn to more and more technology, like they might be able to earn customers respect that way. We at DVO believe that doesn’t work. Consumers aren’t stupid, they will sooner or later get wise to the fact that you still don’t know, understand or care about them or their needs. We think mistakes are being made at a much more basic level. And essentially, this is the reason that DVO was created. A digitally connected creative agency with big agency planning and strategy. We fight the problems of a digitally connected world with the core principles of marketing. We work with brands at a strategic level to help them understand how their brand is perceived, who their customers are, how these customers want to interact with them, how to emotionally and rationally connect to them and how to optimise the whole journey. Tactical output comes much, much further down the line. Having a strong strategy, with clear objectives and metrics are the basis of any great work. Channel shouldn’t influence this, strategy should influence channel. As we’ve always said, particularly when it comes to technology, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should”. Don’t waste money on ineffective technology that’s not right for your brand, instead invest in quality customer research and brand development. We promise you, you’ll reap the benefits down the line, because we all know, the technology will keep changing. Are you going to keep throwing money at it, or make it work for you in a way that’s best for your brand?