The purchasing process of today’s customer has become more dynamic, accessible and continuous. Thanks to the technology, consumers have the opportunity to reevaluate their purchasing decisions over multiple channels at any time. Even if the customer types are different, today nearly all the customers are involved in digital-based purchasing processes. For this reason, customers of our age can evaluate whether manufacturer’s standards are in accord with their expectations or not. And if the manufacturer is not technologically competent enough then customers could change their decisions any time during the purchasing process. If the companies want to address the customers of future, they must prioritize customer-focused efforts and develop systems that can keep pace with customer's expectations.
Hakan Senbir, Expert in Brand Strategies:
How would you profile the consumer/customer of the future? What are the differences between the consumer of today and yester years?
Today’s Millennials and Z Generation are undoubtedly the consumers of the future. Millennials born in the 90’s and Z Generation born in 2000’s will mark the future with their attributes. “Children of the Internet Age” is no doubt going to be one of those attributes. On the other hand they will become the citizens of the world. Freedom to travel frequently and online shopping will bring these consumers to brands all over the world. On the other hand the consumer of the future will become “Cyborg Consumer”. As described in Yuval Harari's book "Homo Deus", future will bring technological products that we cannot imagine in the present. Humans and technology will gradually come together in a single body and become a kind of a Cyborg Consumer. What would be the feelings of our ancestors who lived 500 years ago to see us talking with Bluetooth devices in our ears and mobile phones in our hands? They would probably believe and perceive us as some kind of a Cyborg. For this reason it is almost impossible to imagine how a person in 50 years’ time will shop and buy and sell stuff. Everything is possible. We could only imagine one thing. That is products equipped with new technologies will bring radical changes in consumer culture, which in turn will make consumption more dynamic. Imagine ... Consider a much more dynamic world than today and the consumer profile of "Cyborg Consumer" ... because we can adapt to that day faster if we think about it.
Which trend will mark the future?
“Democratization of Quality” will be normal for the future. We could see this mega trend like this. Until recently, quality referred to the concept that best product features are addressed to a specific consumer segment or in other words presented to the groups with highest economic level with features that are tailored and designed especially for them. However, be it the democratization of information on the internet or the pressure from the consumers, they also brought democratization of the quality. While IKEA democratized the design for the consumer in the furniture industry, H & M did it in ready-made clothing. Nowadays a lot of people around the world can easily reach and access products from top-line designers. Today's growing trend, "Democratization of Quality" will be "normal" for the future consumer and customer. Brands need to be prepared for this. The ability to provide this will change and affect a lot of dynamics from R&D to purchase, from logistics to pricing and from brand strategy to marketing.
What are the biggest consumer and customer based advantages and risks in the future?
Undoubtedly, the biggest advantage is the opportunity to have a global consumer and customer base. This opportunity provides brands from every geographical region of the world to appeal to consumers and customers from all over the world.
Of course, brands need to be more aware of this situation and must enhance their evaluation abilities. Of course there are some risks too. For example, today if a social media platform says that “I am closing down my platform” or even if it does not close down it can lose its meaning and can automatically disappear. Sometimes even in one day. This is a threat for brands investing in this field. Actually every media organ, every channel and medium can be closed. But especially it is a different situation for social media. This risk shows that social media is not only a media platform but it is also a fund at the same time. Brands must be careful about their investment decisions. But being careful won’t be enough. Because the future is ambiguous in this sense. Therefore, brands will have to manage the consumer base in social media as fund managers.
To better meet the requirements of consumer of the future, what brands need to do today?
First of all it is important for brands to understand what globalization means. Having good exports or making successful purchases around the world does not mean globalization. In fact, exports and purchases will lose this sense of their meaning in the future. The important thing would be to become well aware of the global consumer and customer.
In this framework, the level of relationship with the consumer and customer comes at the very top of issues. In the age where loyalty is talked about, I believe brand power is the factor that makes customer relations stronger not CRM. The power of the brand will come from more innovation and better design in the future. A brand who will lead in these two concepts will also lead in customer relations.
Another important issue in this framework is brand communication. I say brand communication, not marketing communication in particular. Because, marketing will change its axis in the future. At a point where product differentiation is getting smaller, the price is determined by the consumer, the sales channel are evolving towards the internet and the communication is commonplace, the DNA of marketing is inevitable to change. For this reason, in the future, tangible values will be outweighed by more intangible values and brands who will communicate with this understanding would succeed.
Melis Tufur, IGP Managing Director
Do you think that in this communication age we are living in, the basic elements of marketing are changing and transforming?
Yes, the incredible rise in communication technology has led to profound changes in the marketing world. In developed markets, since 1990's and in our country from mid 2000s, infrastructural possibilities have improved and high quality and easily accessible communication devices have become part of our lives. This has caused widespread and in-depth use of the internet. Today 'internet' is redefining the basic elements of marketing.
The famous 4 'P' of classical marketing approach are being joined by new 'P's every day. Let’s remember the first 4 P’s (PRODUCT, PRICE, PLACE, and PROMOTION) The increase in P shows that traditional marketing approach cannot respond to the current needs. Customer-oriented marketing, which began in the 1990s, gained momentum with the digital communications revolution. So much so that, the customer quickly became the determining factor in the marketing process. Once the message has been transmitted, customer becomes the one who receives, interprets and reproduces the message.
How will this change affect brand marketing communication processes?
The developments in communication technology have two very important effects on the individuals. First they have extended the scope of activity for the individual and secondly they have enhanced transparency. You can reach and access any content you want irrespective of time and space. There are huge social media platforms where you can share your emotions and thoughts.
For the last 10 years, individuals from the world of internet have not been hiding behind their nicknames. That's what makes Facebook so popular. Or is it possible that Facebook escalated this trend (that famous chicken-egg dilemma). Now in an environment where an individual can overcome all the security restrictions and access anything, is it really possible for brands to work behind closed doors?
Today, one of the most popular brand personality traits that brands pursue is "sincerity". Sincerity is possible only in a transparent environment.
The second major result of the developments in communication technology is transparency. Brands are becoming more transparent every day owing to their customers. Customers can share their ideas about the product/brand unfiltered, naturally and spontaneously as well as can benefit previously shared content. Brands are setting up alarm systems for rapidly spreading complaints and negative comments in the digital environment. These systems are working hard to solve the problems as soon as possible. Brands that do not show this effort are lagging behind and losing popularity.
Digital communication platforms do not just function as complaints boxes; of course, they also reproduce the brand's identity with the contribution of the customer.
Another important change in the field of marketing is that brand identity is becoming dynamic. As witnessed in the case of Coca Cola and Nutella, brands do not hesitate to change the color code and logo, which are at the heart of brand identity, for a campaign. These campaigns are also in line with the personalization trend in the marketing world.
M&M ,one of the world's largest candy brands, is planning to remove its confectionary products from business partners like McDonalds in line with consumer trends, that are trying to reduce sugar consumption.
Because now the age of brands monologue is over. Now the age of interactive communication between the customer and the brand, where listening continuously to the consumer is important, has begun.
From now on, the new superstar is the "customer" who will have the influence over the process of marketing like advertisement, message, product package, benefit, prices etc. at every stage; he has the freedom to produce discourses about the brand. I think the customer will continue to use this freedom in an increasing proportion.
Which media/medium do you think will stand out in brand communications in the coming period?
I think that the programmatic planning of tailor-made advertising, in accordance with the client's browsing pattern on the internet will continue to increase. With the deepening of the behavioral analysis, customer and brand meetings will take place at more precise moments and platforms and this meeting will lead to shopping even faster.
The internet, which is available on devices like watches to refrigerators, will take a more important place in the everyday functioning of our life. It will order stuff for us, it will warm up/cool our house, it will take measures for our safety ... the online medium cannot completely eliminate the offline medium and the offline shopping will not disappear but it will become a more 'premium' social experience.
In this new phase of communication technology, the media communication plans of the brands will be handled with a spiral approach, where the messages are not linear are intertwined. Planning for TV, mobile and computer screens will be done in sync. We are not aware of the dynamics of multi-screen communication like interactions that are created, messages that are produced, so we will either try and learn it or calculate it with industrial age research methods. Thus, it will be possible to re-determine the access and frequency benchmarks of brand messages.
How will the advertiser's media investment distribution in Turkey today transform into this picture in the near future?
In our country, internet investments by brands have been steadily increasing since 2008. According to the reports published by the Advertising Association, for the first time in 2014, internet surpassed press advertising in Turkey, placing it in the 2nd place behind TV. We anticipate that the share of the internet will increase further in the advertising of brands.
In Turkey, the TV is still very much the most watched medium, so it is keeping its advertising share, but like its other counterparts it has an online projection. Almost all of the TV programs can be watched live or later online. So the most powerful traditional medium is also contributing to growth of the internet.
Another traditional media channel, newspaper, is losing altitude for the printed version every day, so it is focusing on growth online.
In the new media environment, the brands will do content planning, not the media planning, because the consumers have been shifting from “brought into action” with the traditional TV commercial spot or newspaper advertisement trend. In order to mobilize or direct people towards purchasing the products, brands will need to give more space and importance to the consumer base.
So, the platforms that will quickly spread the brand-supported content and provide returns will be strengthened: programmatic, online video, search engine marketing, special projects for social media, product placement in TV programs and simultaneously mobile ads will be produced.
Wherever you do, I attach importance to the content of the sponsored program, but I think that the kind of blindfold-like things usually hit the wall of 'sincerity', so they only create awareness of the source. What is there in the world of a customer and what are the priorities of brands?
The technology is not only developing in the field of communication, but also the production technology is rapidly advancing. With the influence of globalization, it is easy to shift production to countries with cheap labor, and at the same time talk to a customer all over the world. Not only the production but the communication is also global.
This allows the customer to access different brands in the same segment both in terms of price and message, more easily than in the past.
In other words, the difference between the brands in terms of 'Product', which is one of the 4 P of marketing, is very low. It is no longer enough to distinguish the 'Product' with brand. More customers are interested in the experience offered by the brand.
The meteoric rise in digital communication means there is a desire for experience that will keep cinema on this rise in the future.
Yes, you can watch a movie at your home at your own time and you can even watch 3D, but when you buy a cinema ticket you also buy an experience which turns into a ritual like food, drink, ambiance, and sound pitch.
How do you think the new marketing scheme will reflect the brand communication strategies?
The brand will first boast about the product properties. Today, it takes up to only five minutes for an average internet user to know whether any product /service are the "best" in terms of characteristics or if there is any similar product available in the market.