Those familiar with Paris Hilton may know her trademark phrase, “That’s hot.” But that ‘trademark’ is more than just rhetorical: Hilton won a lawsuit against cardmaker Hallmark when they used the phrase in greeting cards. She is prudent when it comes to intellectual property; as she is with all her business interests, such as her cryptocurrency.
She is right to be so. Branding allows an organisation to tell their customers why they are unique as a company, what distinguishes them from their rivals, and how they should be remembered. In the past, successful branding has provided organisations with slogans, jingles, TV ads, and with them, the possibility of retaining and bringing in new customers. But traditional techniques, such as television and radio advertisements, may not be sufficient as consumer markets change.
Talking ‘bout iGeneration
By 2020, Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2010) is set to become the generation with the most buying power. Their preferences are shaped by the on-demand world that they were brought up in, characterised by increasing personalisation and accessibility.
One attendee gave the example of his 5-year-old’s visit to a hotel. They were watching a programme on television, but his son wanted to watch PAW Patrol, a children’s show about dogs. PAW Patrol wasn’t on - but he didn’t understand. The concept of linear television, and the inability to access whatever show he wanted whenever he wanted was absent from his worldview.
Future generations will expect their preferences to be at the forefront of a company’s decision-making, allowing the consumer to have more power in their interactions with companies than before. Preferences for superb customer service have not seemed to change. What is different now though, is the desire for this service to be “authentic” and transparent.
An example: data has become a bit of a dirty word in the aftermath of the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook marketed themselves as being an online community with the sole goal of connecting people, without informing users that data was so valuable to them that their main strategy and focus was on aggregating users’ data to sell them more and more precise ad messaging.
(Perhaps also, the front-end illusion of a seamless and personal user experience was momentarily shattered by sudden new knowledge: the vast, ugly, technical backend. It’s “inauthentic” because the curtain at the back of the stage broke and the mechanics of the brand interaction were exposed.)
Generation Z is said to be increasingly more cognisant of a company’s values when choosing a service, organisations need to ensure they are who they say they are.
Generation Z values
Netflix is a good example of a company falling in line with younger generation’s expectations. The streaming site uses our personal data constantly by looking at what we’ve watched in the past to suggest other programmes and films which we may enjoy. It’s more of an “open kitchen” approach. Data sharing in this way clearly offers value to the customer and highlights the notion that transparency in services allows the users to feel more comfortable sharing their personal data, as they feel they are still in control of it.
Netflix may have an easier time achieving authenticity and transparency in their services as they only operate in the virtual world. Companies with both physical and digital platforms have a greater challenge as they must ensure that they have an omni-channel approach.
This requires organisations to provide a seamless experience to their users in both the physical and digital space. Companies should not only provide their users with similar experiences on- and off-line, but also ensure that core values run through the entire fabric of the organisation.
2. A company with values
Values should be intrinsic and addressed everywhere; real and virtual. Starbucks was recently criticised when an employee called the police about two African-American men waiting for a colleague at one of their Philadelphia stores. Crucially, Starbucks’ response to the scandal was rapid, and unequivocal. Overnight, it closed multiple locations to provide staff with “unconscious bias” training; both to avoid a second scandal, and to conspicuously address the first.
The racial incident happened despite digitisation. Customers in Starbucks could order their coffee and pick it up without even speaking to an employee. Digital spaces also require that nuance is taken to places where a “mask” effect means that some people are more to be likely to be rude, or even to troll. Service training is still vitally important in 2018.
Generation Z is said to be more comfortable sharing their data for a more personalised experience. As they begin to enter the workforce and become a larger proportion within the consumer market, companies will be better able to capitalise on the full potential of personalisation, to the benefit of not only themselves, but also the consumer.
Sitecore is about customer experience; their mission is to help their clients provide the best possible customer experience through content management and personalisation.
POSSIBLE is a global digital agency that offers clients digital strategy, performance marketing, and creative design.