February 5, 2018

Top Connected Consumer Experience Trends That’ll Dominate 2018

With a few weeks to reflect since returning from CES 2018, one thing is abundantly clear: The vision for a truly connected consumer experience is not just coming into focus -- it's here. Brands are getting better at communicating with consumers. Devices are becoming increasingly smarter and integrating themselves into our lives at home, at work or anywhere we wish to interact. And, perhaps most importantly, consumers are not only expecting a seamless, two-way experience, but they are demanding it. In fact, according to Salesforce, 64 percent of consumers expect brands to respond and interact with them in real time. From a straight transaction to a loyalty program, a truly connected consumer experience inspires users to engage and fall in love with brands. This experience doesn't end with a "buy" or "submit" button; it looks to insert a brand into your life in timely, relevant ways. Brands that don't jump on board are going to be left behind.

Brands have an enormous opportunity to connect with consumers via user-based experiences, augmented and virtual realities, and voice assistants. Let's dive deeper into several key facets of the connected consumer experience.

Location-based User Experiences

Owning timely virtual real estate on connected devices is everything: It's all about LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! Consumers crave timely, relevant communication and offers. Brands that crack this code by sifting through the vast amount of data at their disposal to refine what really matters to consumers will win and remain relevant. Companies now know you, the consumer. They know where you are and what you need, and they can creatively incentivize your purchase to meet that need. Stressed out, late for a meeting and running low on fuel? Your nearest preferred gas station offers you its new line of healthy snacks at a deep discount, along with additional loyalty points for a fill-up. The station is connected to your vehicle and knows you are a loyalty card holder. That station is invested in you -- it is messaging you based on very segmented data that includes time, location, vehicle data, user preferences and other self-reported data from numerous sources. Everyone wins.

Augmented and Virtual Realities

AR/VR is changing how brands will communicate with, engage with and educate us. Our ability to decide when and where we consume content will get increasingly dynamic. These new experiences, enabled by volumetric video, will change the perspective in which we experience sports and entertainment. The ability to overlay data and supplemental content will continue to evolve, and brands will have exciting new opportunities to engage with passionate consumers. As AR/VR experiences expand, paid media will evolve in a new way. New models will emerge as a value exchange of content and access for brand interaction. Those interactions must be strong, engaging and add value to the consumer if they expect to remain relevant in this emerging space.

Voice Assistants

Consumers want to engage via voice for many reasons. Convenience, automating routine tasks and a more personalized experience are some of the top reasons, according to a recent Capgemini Digital Transformation Institute study on conversation commerce. From securing a ride-hailing service to buying home and health care products, ecommerce through a connected, voice-enabled device is on the rise and becoming common place in our daily lives. Connected device integration will continue to improve. As your smart devices become more intelligent, messaging will become more targeted. Customized, highly relevant deals will be presented to consumers, and the ability to instantly accept and save offers will surface. For example, you hear an ad or interact with a piece of content that has an integrated sponsor message. You then respond to your virtual assistant, "I want that." Your device responds, "Would you like to purchase now or save this offer?" With a simple command, you can either transact that experience or chose to download the information to a virtual wallet for a future transaction, on your terms.

The data cycle continues to spin.

Admittedly, this is both an exciting and unnerving time to be a brand. The brands that focus on what is valuable to their consumers and thoughtfully insert themselves into that journey will succeed in the connected age. Sensitivity to consumers' time, location and preferences (stated or learned through AI) will be rewarded with increased engagement and sales.

Brands can fit into this complex, connected consumer experience by being smarter than the competitor, leveraging data wisely and delivering amazing experiences naturally in the flow of consumers' complicated lives.