Tougher world, bigger prize
Shifts in markets, technology and society are making it tougher than ever to build a winning brand – but also make the prize more worthwhile.
- Broad competition and shrinking shelf space
Competition is broadening and boundaries are blurring as new platforms with new economics set new expectations. To whom do I go to save money on energy: my energy company, a price comparison website, or my bank? To whom do I go to find something to watch: my cable company, a broadcast network, a content platform like Netflix, or an intelligent agent like Alexa? As barriers to entry are falling, brands must compete with players very different from themselves. There is little real estate for this competition on a mobile home screen, and even less on Alexa.
- Big data and human values
Big data brings an unprecedented opportunity to get close to customers — at least to have a close knowledge of them. But having customers feel close to you is different. The closer you get analytically, the further away they may hold you emotionally, unless you show human values that cause them to let you in. Trust in big business has been low for a generation, and is lowest with some of the tech players that are working hardest to get close.
- Digitization and relentless renewal
Digital transformation is dominating the agenda. But digitalization by itself doesn’t win, it just gets you on the playing field. The world of digital experiences demands relentless innovation and renewal in order to maintain customer attention and loyalty.
- All about me and craving to belong
The relationship between customer and company has fundamentally switched. For many customers today, brand is not about me admiring you, it’s about you showing how you understand and respect me. I no longer come to your store and explore your environment on your terms; you come to my phone, where you fit in on my terms. And this craving to belong means brands need to stand for more than just product and profit.
The result of all this is fewer, deeper relationships.
But there is also a tremendous benefit of all of these shifts: the relationship between brand and customer is deeper than ever. And the prize has never been bigger. Brands that break through, that reach their customers and understand their needs, get broad permission to assemble solutions across traditional category boundaries.