The digital revolution has impacted nearly every aspect of modern life. It shapes the way we work and learn. It provides the platforms on which we seek our entertainment and engage with the people we love when they’re away from us.
By JORI HAMILTON
Though our personal lives have been deeply altered by this era of digitalization, however, it may be in the world of business that the effects of today’s technology are most deeply felt. Never before has the marketplace been so truly globalized. Never before have consumers had so many choices — choices that are, quite literally, at their fingertips.
The implications of this new reality for business leaders and marketers are vast. No longer must businesses compete only with local competitors and the larger franchises and Big Box stores taking up residence in the area. Nowadays, businesses must position themselves to prevail over rivals who may literally be a world away.
This internationalization of the marketplace means that customer experience is perhaps more important than it ever has been. Understanding what customers want, need, and experience, however, is by no means a simple or straightforward task. Nevertheless, consumer insights are often key to a company’s survival, and that means that marketers must understand how best to acquire this essential consumer data and use it effectively.
Know What You’re Looking For
At first blush, it might seem as if all information is good information, but that’s not exactly true. In fact, it’s not only possible but actually quite easy to become mired in irrelevant data. When that happens, you’re not just setting yourself, your team, and your clients up for frustration, but you’re also wasting valuable time, energy, and resources.
So, one of the first and most important steps in improving your company’s consumer insights is to determine exactly what it is you need to know about your target market.
For example, if you’re targeting Gen Z consumers and you’re seeking data derived from social media to facilitate product development, then you’d do well to focus your research, time, and money on the platforms young adults are most likely to use.
For instance, though Facebook may be among the most popular social media platforms in general, among your Gen Z target audience, Facebook’s popularity is limited and waning. In such a case, you’re more likely to find more accurate and comprehensive data on platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, or TikTok.
The essential point, above all, is to streamline your data by refining your focus from the beginning. This way, your team won’t be required to wade through oceans of useless content before they come to the actionable material they need.
Use a Variety of Data
Whether you’re defining a new business strategy or renovating a marketing campaign, one of the biggest challenges you may face is avoiding groupthink and breaking free of the cognitive rut that experienced professionals can easily fall into.
It’s easy to assume, for instance, the research methods that worked in the past will be just as effective today. That’s by no means true. In fact, because the business world is constantly evolving, with technological innovations accelerating the pace of change, so, too, must the methods marketers use to study it.
Today, for example, an important new trend in real estate marketing has emerged: the real estate influencer. Real estate marketers use a host of techniques, such as location tagging and sponsored posts, to market properties principally by cultivating the community’s brand, such as the perception of wealth ascribed to a given neighborhood.
For a marketer, both the strategies used by a real estate influencer and the impact of their approach can provide invaluable consumer insights. By understanding not only what the influencer prioritizes but also how the audience responds to those priorities, embracing, rejecting, or expanding on them, your marketing team can then define new and innovative approaches tailored to the needs and values of your target consumer today.
Turning Data into Future-Focused Action
As has been shown, turning to novel data sources can help marketing teams better understand consumers at the moment, a critical skill in such a rapidly-evolving consumer market. It’s not enough, however, to meet consumer needs and expectations in the present. You also need to be future-focused, to understand how to use consumer insights to predict how trends will develop in both the near and far term.
For example, though electric vehicles (EV) have been around for a while now, it is only in recent years that consumers have begun to show a significant and growing appetite for EV technology.
In this case, consumer insight can be drawn from a variety of sources, including the vast popularity enjoyed by Tesla’s EV tech since its advent in the early 2010s, especially as compared with the relatively tepid consumer response to EV technology introduced by giants such as BMW and Mercedes around the same time.
This market reaction to Tesla’s unique approach to EV technology coincides with other relevant consumer trends. For example, the rising interest in environmental sustainability, particularly among younger generations, speaks to the growing appeal of EV technology for today’s and tomorrow’s consumers alike.
As the above example demonstrates, then, it’s not enough simply to look at data in isolation. The consumer, after all, is not a one-dimensional figure. Understanding their behaviors and interests across multiple domains is essential both for a comprehensive understanding of what your target customers want and need now and for predicting how those wants and needs will evolve in the future.
The consumer has always rested at the heart of any marketing campaign. However, in the face of unprecedented, and increasing, competition, understanding your consumer has perhaps never been more important. Developing the consumer insights you need and then transforming them into actionable marketing strategies is not easy, though. It requires both skill and strategy to build innovative campaigns tailored to consumer needs both today and tomorrow.