By: CMO Australia for ADMA
THE DAWN OF A NEW MARKETING ERA
Depending on whose definition you prefer, we’ve entered the age of the customer, the experience economy, a new era of engagement. Brands now soar or plummet based on their ability to not only know and meet consumer expectations, but anticipate those needs and desires before consumers even realise they have them.
This trend has been coming for a while. In 1998, B Joseph Pine II and James H Gilmore summed it up nicely in their Harvard Business Review article, ‘Welcome to the Experience Economy’:
“An experience occurs when a company intentionally uses services as the stage, and goods as props, to engage individual customers in a way that creates a memorable event. Commodities are fungible, goods tangible, services intangible, and experiences memorable.
“While prior economic offerings – commodities, goods, and services – are external to the buyer, experiences are inherently personal, existing only in the mind of an individual who has been engaged on an emotional, physical, intellectual, or even spiritual level. Thus, no two people can have the same experience, because each experience derives from the interaction between the staged event (like a theatrical play) and the individual’s state of mind.”
How have we ended up here? You can thank technological innovation for that. Connected devices, digital disruption, social media and advanced analytics have combined into a perfect storm of technological force, leading to a situation where consumers now control the conversation. It’s technology and algorithms that increasingly dictate the way we interact and understand each other, and put data and real-time relevance centre stage in the modern marketing approach.
Off the back of such significant technological advancement, digital upstarts such as Uber, Netflix, Airbnb and Amazon have rewritten what it means to offer frictionless, pre-emptive services to customers. These, in turn, have lifted expectations of experience in every industry to dizzying heights using a combination of data, customer insight, service-led culture and product excellence.
In response, marketing has become less about selling products or services, and more about providing ever-more impressive, seamless experiences. Mass, broadcast styles of marketing are being thrown out the window in favour of increasingly personalised, digitised and data-informed engagement.
It’s not just about getting a customer to make a purchase either. Marketers are compelled to take the entire lifecycle of a consumer into account, plotting out the highly complex, non-linear and often irrational customer journey across channels, devices, contexts and more. All while facing increased pressure to prove marketing’s worth.
As expectations around engagement have risen, so too have expectations about marketing’s remit. If the nature of marketing is being redefined in the experience economy, so too must the skillsets within the marketing function.
It’s no longer enough to have creative and communication aptitude. Marketing teams must incorporate digital and technology nous, data-driven and analytical decision making, and revolve around a more holistic view of the customer that adapts and changes. Iterative thinking is prized, strategic thinking is a must, and resilience is paramount.
In the words of American marketing author, Phil Kotler: Welcome to the new age of marketing 3.0.