Consumer Marketing in 2025
We can see a lot of ways commerce is changing today. Amazon and other e-commerce putting pressure on retail, customer experience trumping brand message, consumer interaction moving to the Web — and now moving to the mobile Web.
But where is this all going? How is marketing to consumers going to look in 2025 and beyond?
Today's Trends Played Forward
Britton is CEO of Crowdtap and considered to be an expert on marketing to Millennials and younger generations. His talk aimed to extrapolate out from the trends we're seeing in those cultures a model of how the class of 2025, who's roughly 10 years old today, will see the world.
From his point of view, the trends impacting marketing to young people in 2025 are closely tied to the socio-economic trends developing today:
- The key jobs will be deeply artistic or deeply scientific, and the rest will be automated. So you need to be able to do what machines can't (art) or be able to program and build the machines youself (science and engineering).
- Young people are moving more and more back into cities. “The creative class is now taking over cities, and because of that, the landscape of cities are changing,” said Britton.
- Because people are moving into cities, they're trading privacy and space for proximity and access. This means they need fewer things like cars. He see car buying and house buying both decreasing rapidly.
- People in the city without a car tend to prefer to have things delivered. "Amazon is destroying retail," he said, and a big reason why is that young people are in the cities and they no longer have the car to drive to stores and shop conveniently in-person. It’s just much easier to stay home and have it delivered.
That all will continue to put pressure on retail, according to Britton, but it will also feed into different consumption habits. Living in the city is more experience-based — collect less stuff, do more things. So he sees commerce moving further from buying things and toward buying services or experiences. Services like Ikea's newly acquired handyman gig company Task Rabbit, or sites like GTFO Flights that let you get as far as way as possible as cheaply as possible.
A Post-Text World? Stick It In Your Ear
So that's the mentality shift, but Britton also sees extreme changes coming to how people buy as well.
"Will we even need screens," asks Bitton? "Amazon says no."
This is because the interface tech of our devices is going to change over to voice technologies.
“Typing is going to go away,” said Britton. “In five years from now, 10 years from now, we won’t even type. We’ll talk into our phones, not type into our phones.”
His picture of the smartphone of the future is a pair of Apple AirPod bluetooth headphones. The kind of device that lets you interact with your phone without having it in your hands or in front of your eyes.
Britton thinks that 95 percent of what you do with your device in 2025 will be done in your ear.
This is a future all of the major device makers are moving toward. Personal assistants and voice-activated devices like the Alexa products are essentially working toward IOT without the screen, and therefore without the typing.
What does this mean for the consumer of the future?
You don't really pick from lists in voice search. You ask for a recommendation, get one, and either go with that or suggest a new one.
One example Britton gave was buying batteries: You ask Alexa to buy batteries, and it's likely to offer the Amazon house brand. Then the user may buy those, or suggest another: "Alexa, get me Duracell instead."
Even though extensive product choices exist, only a few are really in consideration: The one Alexa suggests, and other brands that my be top of mind for the user. In a post-text world, there is not the exhaustive of choices to flip through and compare that you have on a device with a screen.
Customer Experience Over Brand
Why would consumers want that? because, in this future where young professionals are renting and experiencing more than owning, deep product decisions are less important. Or those decisions are made based on word of mouth, not product listing.
And that's the core idea that came out of Britton's presentation, and quite a few others I've seen lately. It's one of the biggest trends of the fall 2017 events season: The opportunity to market through competing brand messages is going to become more limited as the delivery mechanisms optimize to create a more convenient user experience.
Convenience means streamlining choices. Which could put many lower tier brands in a bad spot.
In that world, your brand will be more impacted by experiences that stick in the user's minds than marketing. The experience may be even more important than the offer, since in this world, users may not care to compare many offers.Perhaps your owned audience, your house list, will keep your offers getting through. But if you want them to pay attention to those communications, again, you need to build an experience they want to continue to go out of their way to interact with.
If that future sounds a bit bleak to you, it's time to worry less about he message and offer, and care more about the experience you're providing.