Begoña de la Sota
Thinking about the future of communication is a constant in our industry. I would say it is a professional obligation, considering the pace of change in consumers’ habits and the need for brands to reach them efficiently. For those of us advising brands, thinking about the future is an inherent aspect of our daily activity. We are obliged to observe the behavior and habits of the consumer, which leads to the idea of "necessary adaptation" of old habits to match the new means that we have to communicate.
There were 6.4 billion connected devices in the world in 2016, 30 percent more than in 2015. We are expected to reach 50 billion devices by 2020. At this point I like to recall a phrase from the science-fiction writer William Gibson, who encourages us to read all these advances in the present: "The future is already here. It's just not widely distributed yet." Clues or keys in the present allow us to interpret what these advances represent for the consumer, who really should be at the center of our reflections.
I am thinking, for example, of streaming as the key that explains the explosion in the use of new media and that opens up revolutionary ways of communicating. We have a consumer with “streaming mentality”, more open to discovering and consuming multimedia content, since they have all kinds of connected devices.
Thus, it may be interesting to analyze the way in which some companies have interpreted these advances, and are giving very tangible value to the consumer:
- Spotify. This is undoubtedly an example of a streaming platform that grows through personalization breaking the barrier of price. Each individual receives recommendations based on previous consumption, and personalized experience takes precedence. According to the ‘Streaming State of Mind’ study developed by GroupM in partnership with Spotify, users who use streaming listen to more hours of music (4.8 versus 3.7) and view a wider range of content (6.4 compared to 6.0). They are open to discovering and receiving recommendations, and are less likely to make distinctions between digital and traditional.
- Amazon. A great example of streaming based on recommendations adapted to a person’s buying and browsing behavior; it “knows” how to wisely take advantage of impulse buying with price promotions and instant delivery services. Its 'One-Click' button is the catalyst, and this model works for all Amazon’s categories. The turning of the screw on the competition? Once its brand has been established and provides value to the user, Amazon has jumped the barrier to physical retailing, becoming both a bookseller and a printer.
- Netflix. It has skillfully extrapolated the model of Amazon and Spotify and applied it to audiovisual content; it is also a content producer, with the ability to predict sales.
- WeChat. This is another example of a holistic experience in an app, which develops the user experience through understanding social networks, influencers, recommendations and prior purchases.
We are surprised every day by a new company that follows this consumer-centric model. The challenge for brands is to find the combination of format, time and context that will deliver the best advertising to the user.
Wherever the interest of the consumer is, the brand must be present. But we must bear in mind two key facts:
- The needs of consumers have not changed, and advertising must continue focusing on being relevant, and solving specific consumer needs or concerns.
- We have multiple ways to interact with individuals, and we are able to do so with an appealing and consistent brand narrative integrated across all touchpoints.
We must always be focused on the consumer, working to establish a relationship with them, with a content or brand proposal that creatively highlights and adapts to the current moment.
It is true that the digital revolution has been a challenge for many advertisers, who are troubled when they see that some consumers are even willing to pay in order not to be shown advertising. But it is also true that we have never had so many ways to reach the consumer as we have now.
Never before have the point of contact and the sales point been so close. That represents a unique opportunity to adapt our communication to facilitate brands’ relationship with the consumer.
Let's enjoy this stage, but let’s remind ourselves that, in the end, it’s not so different from what we were already doing. Old habits, new media.