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What can infants teach us about the future of marketing?

One big lesson and what to do about it

A gathering among friends is taking place at someone’s home. The adults are catching up over food and drinks, while their infants, aged 2-4 years old, are watching television in the living room.

Suddenly, one of the children starts crying and gesturing to her mom that something has gone wrong with her show.

Her mother rushes to fix the seemingly technological hiccup, but it turns out nothing is wrong, at least from the eyes of the older generation, it was simply a commercial break.

The mother assures her child that nothing has gone wrong, and that her favorite show will be back momentarily. It turns out it is the first time the child has been introduced to cable TV.

The movies and streaming shows she has consumed during her entire, albeit short, life thus far weren’t broken up by these segments of pushing products to mass audiences.

Beyond being a true story, it is a jaw dropping realization of how the upcoming generation is growing up and viewing the world around them. This scenario has sweeping ramifications for professionals in the marketing, advertising, research, and consumer insight fields.

The behaviors and expectations of these children point to the future and give a strong signal to professionals that there is not only an opportunity, but a need, to adapt.

Consumers of all ages have changed. How and where we engage with brands has evolved. Our expectations as consumers have developed faster than brands can keep up.

Waiting an entire week for the next episode to come out? Think again.

time spent on netflix

The lesson here?

Don’t interrupt me when I’m not expecting it or don’t want it. Commercials and advertisements, if presented at the wrong time, will be associated with interruption.

While many of us willingly accepted those moments of interruptions pre streaming TV world, the times are changing. Younger generations are growing up with different expectations. We are living in an “interest economy”, where consumers are interested to view only what they want, when they want.

They are glued to the activities and the content that interest them. Unless your engagement with them is curated to their specific passions and interests, your marketing campaigns will at the very least, be considerably watered down, if not doomed to fail.

Brands must understand how each subset of consumers view the world in order to adapt their messages to each.

It is possible to target different groups of consumers with the same product or service if you know how each thinks, feels, and behaves. You need to know why they do what they do.

What now?

1. Get to know them.

For real though. Get to know who your consumers are: what they love, what they hate, and what they don’t care for. Get to know their habits, their styles, preferences, values, personalities and characters.

Get to know them deeper than just their satisfaction with your product or likelihood to recommend it. Only when you know who they are, are you able to curate content, services, and products that are truly relevant.

You’ll never know until you ask. So conduct behavior and attitude studies, concept tests, brand perception and awareness studies, pre and post purchase feedback and satisfaction assessments.

Even extracting sentiment from product reviews is a great step in the right direction.

2. Timing is everything.

Remember all of those sales calls during dinner time growing up? It didn’t work then either. Marketers need to invest in resources to understand the right time to engage. If you want to get to know your consumers, then you also need to figure out the optimal time to contact them.

For some consumers it might be while they are experiencing your product. For others it might be after use. For some it might be right at the point of sale or engaging with your marketing chat bot 30 seconds after they visited your brand site. The point is, there is a science to timing for optimal and meaningful engagement. Be aware of it, understand it, and act accordingly.

Reviewing channel metrics as well as directly asking customers about preferences can pay dividends.

3. Meet consumers on their terms.

Understanding the entire consumer journey for each consumer segment requires a relentless pursuit of understanding, analysis, and insights. Marketers need to understand and engage consumers where they are and be mindful of it while targeting, otherwise features such as mute and block will get activated.

Understand where and why your specific customers tend to shop, on what devices, on-line vs. in-store, at home or at work.

For restaurants, dealing with apps like Yelp and Seamless, their customer engagement can be split between in-store service and at home consumption. And reviews are spread across another 2 or 3 websites. Does service and experience vary? What types of customers interact with you at different location and why?

In a world where consumers don’t just desire instant gratification, but expect it, the window for brands to impress and then retain customers is getting smaller. For better or worse this puts an added burden on brands and an increasing expectation of curation.

To succeed, understand why. Be curious. Find tools that take some of the analysis burden off of your team and give you your time back, so you can focus on the things that matter to your customers and to your business.

Make them feel like it’s about them, and there is a higher probability you will win.

kid with cereal

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