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Consumer-Led Marketing: How to Future-Proof your Approach to Marketing
February 2, 2018
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Consumer-led Marketing: what is it? It’s the name we give the new principles of consumer connection, which are often categorised under “digital marketing” or “digital engagement”. However, as the name implies, the focus is placed firmly on the consumer.  And it’s a game changer. Now it’s their turn to decide if, when, where, how and for how long they will engage with your brand. And, as a brand, it’s your turn to earn your consumers’ attention. In this article, discover how this consumer-centric approach, is fundamental for successful, future-proof marketing in the digital age.

Inherently, the principle of consumer-led marketing captures the art and science behind connecting your product with the consumers who need or desire it. Making them aware of the product, allowing them to decide whether it’s right for them, and ultimately convincing them to purchase. This approach drives sustainable revenue and customer relationships for the business and utility for the consumer.

A changing consumer.

Consumer behaviour, needs and wants have changed dramatically. And they will continue to change and evolve faster than ever before. This trend reaches further than purchasing patterns and reference groups. It touches every aspect of the classic marketing funnel, transforming the way consumers interact with brands, advertising and marketing.

Marketing fatigue:

The effect on marketing and overall business performance.

The impact that this consumer change has had on overall business performance (whether for better or worse) is dependent on a multitude of factors. However, it’s clear that for businesses that are yet to acknowledge and embrace changing consumer behaviours, the classic marketing playbook is showing strong signs of fatigue:

  • TV reach has become less effective and more fragmented.
  • Magazine readership and associated ad impressions (as well as their impact) have plummeted.
  • New social and video channels have become increasing prevalent.
  • Bloggers and influencers have become a key point of reference for consumers.
  • Peer-to-peer and user-generated content is seen as the most trusted point of reference for consumers before purchase.

Welcome to the digital age.

This behavioural change is fuelled by the dawn of the ‘digital age’ – the fourth industrial revolution.  An age where technology touches every part of our digital and physical lives. Where more people have access to mobile phones than clean water. An age where internet connectivity and social media penetration have become so pervasive as to be considered utilities just like electricity.

And the challenges this shift is posing are only just beginning.

The rise of the Millennials, the consumers of the future, who display political, social and purchasing behaviour distinct from their socio-economic counter-parts, will surely present a varied set of challenges and opportunities for businesses over the coming years.

How are businesses addressing this change?

Businesses are reacting to change in one of four ways: The good, the bad, the ugly and the terrified.

The good.

The rise of consumer-centric innovation and business models has created new markets, new opportunities and heaps of value and utility for the consumer (think Amazon, Google, Facebook, Uber, Netflix and AirBnB).

The success of such businesses is somewhat driven by putting what really counts at the heart: people. Interestingly, they also recognise the value of data, as well as revenue, as a fuel for the economies of tomorrow.

Such businesses where born learning – optimising and redefining themselves to better serve their customers to sustain commercial success and relevance today and tomorrow.

The bad.

The complexity of marketing in the digital age and the knowledge gaps it creates, opens opportunities for objectionable behaviours which see the consumer or user as a means-to-an-end rather than an end in themselves.

In the restless pursuit for ad impressions (a metric often used to mistakenly determine marketing campaign success), some agencies choose to interrupt and disrupt potential consumers, causing frustration and annoyance. Or, even worse, charge businesses for ad impressions which never even reach the eyes of the consumer at all.

This may result in good statistics on marketing reports to baffle senior management with. However, such behaviour creates profound brand damage and has undoubtedly fuelled the rise of ad blockers – a user-revolt against poor-quality advertising practice.

The approach is short-sighted. And will inherently lead to a demise in commercial success.

The ugly.

Some businesses have, with the best intentions, endeavoured to ‘do digital’. However, they often hit the barriers created by knowledge gaps and lack of strategic direction. This results in much investment in ‘digital’ with little or no tangible consumer or business benefit, and much frustration all the way from the shop floor to the boardroom.

This approach often leads to a ‘me too’ strategy – where businesses follow the industry leaders, in a slower less efficient and less relevant manner. By the time they catch up, the world has once again changed. It’s no fault of their own. The new world exposes businesses to unchartered territory, which is riddled with both opportunities and challenges, with seemingly no compass or map. These are businesses in desperate need for thought-leaders able to act as catalysts of true change.

The terrified.

Others are, quite frankly, terrified, or even worse, in denial about the inevitable impact the ‘digital age’ will have on their business.

In this new world, nobody is untouchable. Nobody is too big to fail. The stories of once untouchable brands, such as Kodak, Blockbuster and HMV, tell us that. Extinction is a very real possibility.

So, what should you do?

Here’s the truth, as we see it…

The dawn of consumer-led marketing and how we can help.

Marketing in the digital age goes beyond any technology or buzzword. It’s simply about people – your employees and your customers. Technology and innovation are our greatest enablers for delivering value and utility to our consumers in ways never possible before. To achieve this however, a new approach must be adopted. A journey of true digital transformation needs to be initiated.

9 ways we can help you achieve digital transformation.

1.         Understand the new behaviours of your consumers: we’ll help you look beyond the classic marketing funnel, embracing the non-linear consumer path to purchase and the multiple touchpoints this involves, which is often multi- or omni-channel in nature.

2.         Unearth what is of real value to your consumers: we’ll help you identify what drives true utility and find your new, sustainable place in the age of digital, while remaining loyal to your heritage and values.

3.         Make big data, small: we’ll help you to drive colossal consumer insight and decision-making capabilities, empowering your teams from shop floor to boardroom.

4.         Formulate a vision, strategy and executional roadmap: we’ll help you serve, reach and connect with your consumers better than ever before, while still holding your business values, culture, heritage and equity at it’s very heart.

5.         Define the people, channels and processes to achieve your vision.

6.         Create things real people want to spend time with: we can help you and your agencies define the right strategy to create things which create value in their lives. Served at the moments where consumers actively invite us in.

7.         Create a new ‘total brand experience’: it’s not just about products, but about delivering omni-channel services and benefits to foster loyalty beyond simply functional benefits, and instead create deep emotional relationships with brand experiences.

8.         Ensure you don’t just ‘do digital’: we’ll help you avoid the common pitfalls, such as following the competition in a race to the edge of the cliff. Instead, we help you lead your industry, putting people at the very heart, to drive exceptional, sustainable business performance.

9.         Empower you and your team: best of all, we’ll embed the skills, tools and confidence deep into your business, along with the support required to achieve true consumer-centric digital transformation and accelerate business performance. Today and tomorrow.

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