The next wave of Brand evolution is here…

Convenience, Relevance & Discovery might seem to be 3 points of a triangle but rapidly they are moving along a common straight line in a brand’s journey. A product or a service now need to hit the Golden spot attempting to deliver on all 3 fronts simultaneously. My last week’s visit to an electronics shop brought forth one of these aspects. Two people were enquiring about ‘health’ and ‘safety’ while buying a mobile phone. That sounded weird but not for long! The enquiry harboured around aspects such as heating & potential blast risks while charging, increase in temperature of the speaker pad while speaking and the crack resistance of the glass due to varying atmospheric conditions. The salesmen were caught off-guard and anchored back to the usual script around camera, storage, face recognition etc. But the customers weren’t interested in the rhetoric. And ultimately they managed to influence a group of 3 others who collectively postponed their decision of potential purchase selection. As they left, one of the salesman whispered to the other, “The guy is mad, he should get his own health checked before asking for the health of a mobile phone. Irrelevant”. But that is what is relevant to that customer while buying the mobile phone.

Times are changing ever so rapidly. The consumer of today is evolving at a pace faster than many of us can imagine. They are socially conscious, highly opinionated, reliant on product/ services which makes life easy, simple, better, safe and healthy. Word of mouth through personalized mediums is gaining traction like never before and drives 30–50% of all the purchase decisions, especially of a first time buyer. Rise of voice search is faster than anticipated- Globally 30% of smartphone users use voice search at least once a week. Overall consumer browsing, enquiry and purchase decision have become very liquid and super evolving. And so are the lifestyle- jobs, education, travelling, almost everything. The consumers are open to share ideas and quick to change loyalties. And each of our sectors are experiencing it. Brands who are able to predict and act proactively are the ones going to sustain!

It’s a third wave in the journey of Brand evolution. The first wave saw the overall concept of a brand being unleashed- the power of logo, taglines and the famous personalities driving it. The second wave saw brands having an attitude, establishing the emotional connect with the consumers beyond functional utility and personalities. The 3rd wave would see brands carving out a place with the potential consumers around relevance, convenience and inspiring through discovery with a tinge of co-creation.

Relevance has leaped the boundaries of functional utility. That’s the new norm and a must have. The ability to predict the next shift of the consumer mindshare and putting it across is what this relevance would mean. Data driven approach balancing creativity with analytics needs to be much faster and proactive. An amalgamation of a marketer’s left brain and right brain! Relevance leads to personalization. Indeed in a world searching for identities, carving out one’s own niche amidst quotidian choices is the next big thing. A few days back, I met a gentleman at a Coffee shop who begins his day with a slice of an indulgent chocolate pastry topped with an espresso shot. He said, “I need sweetness to garnish my mornings with the usual caffeine kick and then I remain cheerful even in the daily hustle”. His face gleams as the employees of the café call him, “Morning Choco Gulati”

Convenience has redefined itself. It’s not only limited to access and ease of usage. It’s also about eliminating the unspoken non value adding aspects of the overall experience, making it completely seamless. For example, the smart speakers are nothing but the example of this. Who would have thought that ‘typing on google search or on your mobile phone’ could be positioned as a non-value work? The thrill of self-discovery of options could be challenged. And these smart speakers have indeed become a channel of other brands reaching out to end consumers. Amazon’s Alexa is just the kick start. Research shows that voice-based search works differently from text-based search, with consumers using fewer branded terms. And convenience has extended itself to themes of “effort” and “intrigue”. If it takes too much effort to understand or relate to the niche of a product or service, the stickiness plummets. Unless of course, it is in a domain which is of interest as a case of natural choice.

The 3rd and the last aspect for brands would be the ability to inspire along with the opportunity to co-create. Inspiration is a broader term and would differ basis the thematic brand umbrella. But it is a tough nut to crack. And with word of mouth gaining traction with evolving needs of consumers, inspiring them is not easy. It is fleeting! Paints, furniture, Shoes- are seeing it all around. Innovation in this space has begun!

Looking ahead, it’s exciting time to witness the 3rd wave! The needs are changing and the expectations are evolving. The mobile phones being assessed on ‘health’ and ‘safety’ is just a sneak-peek of things to come.

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Adrit Mishra

When statistics & management insights transcends into philosophical, introspective & poetic ones