Inbound Marketing: 5 Ways that Customer Preferences are Changing

Inbound Marketing

5 Ways that Customer Preferences are Changing

By Loren Phillips August 22, 2017 • 7 minutes to read

The ever-evolving state of technology has impacted the way that people consume media and communicate with each other. The result has been a wholesale disruption of the traditional business model as we know it. We are all keenly aware that the world’s largest hotel does not own any real estate and the world’s largest taxi operator does not own a single car. We see, at the same time, a complete convergence and an extreme divergence of media and business that has left people more in control of what they want and when they want it. The customer, as they say, is king.

Media channels are evolving and along with that, media formats are changing to accommodate new consumption preferences. The traditional 30-minute slot is moving into  more alternative short format webisodes followed by highly niche, fragmented audiences. IndieWire listed The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo, a series about a gender fluid individual and his relationship with the world at large, as the most successful web series of 2016. We have also seen feature length films, like Lights Out, having been developed after going viral on YouTube, which naturally has become a great testing ground for directors like District 9’s Neill Blomkamp to test out movie ideas.

On the backdrop of short webisodes we see a proliferation of epic, big budget productions envisioned beyond the capability of the feature length film. A notable example of this is Game of Thrones (GOT) which has amassed 247 wins from 414 nominations, spanning across the Golden Globes, the Prime Time Emmys, the BAFTA Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. GOT sees a massification of audience numbers, with Season 6 garnering 7.7 million viewers in the US alone, and passionate fans starting numerous sites devoted to news and discussions about the show.

So what does this mean for sales and marketing professionals? It means that the channels available for communication have proliferated, leading to the way people communicate being transformed. Businesses need to be cognisant of these shifts and need to approach their communications in a more crafted and increasingly targeted manner, taking into consideration where their audience is, at what time of the day, and what they are interested in.

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1. Communication

The exponential opening of communication flows has resulted in the line between work and life blurring. People check their emails from home, book holidays on their mobile devices and set up business meetings via WhatsApp. Communication is negotiated through the closest device they have on hand , typically, their mobile devices. The knowledge workers of today are not defined by office spaces nor are they limited by 9 to 5. Being “always on” is a sought-after state, an enviable status. Sales and marketing professionals need to mediate their message in an effective way without being too pushy.

2. Cross Verticals

Businesses no longer stick to their pre-defined category, they need to remain agile in a marketplace which constantly exposes gaps between services and customer expectations. Uber started as a taxi-hailing service and now delivers fast food, maximising on their core competency which was getting something from A to B in the most efficient way. Closer to home, News24 identified their physical reach as a tangible business asset and started the online clothing retailer, Spree, in order to utilise the dwindling need for print publication delivery. Ultimately, people, customers, users, consumers, or whatever you want to refer to them as, just want to be delighted. As a company, consider what it is about your product or service that has the potential to fill a person with happiness, and you have a convert.

3. On-Demand Everything 

Literally everything. That is the new expectation. Media has become on-demand. Taxis are on-demand. Fast food is on-demand. On-demand is facilitated by technology, drone delivery and nifty apps that are easy to use and changing the game.

People increasingly expect efficiency. Those businesses that cannot keep up with agile, lean, data-hungry digital- first business models will fade into obscurity. Uber, Airbnb, Netflix are clearing the path. Business leaders need to recognise the disruption and pivot quickly to slough off the dead weight in their organisations that keep them slow and immobile to digital transformation.

4. Single Solution

Just as how people want products and services on-demand, they also want to be able to tailor-make their packages to suit their personal needs explicitly. Products and services need to be modular in order for customers to build their own customised versions. In the 1970s, futurist Alvin Toffler wrote about society’s need for customised products. Today, as predicted, mass-production gives way to mass-customisation which has become the alternate driver of demand and price.

5. Experience is Everything

In an economy shifting away from physical products and in a world where waste has become the increasingly negative by-product of brands, people spend more on experiences and non-material goods. In a 2003 study, it was shown that as time wore on, people looked upon experiences more fondly.

The rise of experiential spending impacts brands’ share of wallet and brands need to consider how they can continue to add real, memorable value to people’s lives, beyond the tangible product.

With so much to consider, marketing and sales professionals can find themselves easily overwhelmed. The best tactic in such a dynamic environment is to stay up to speed with the trends that shape consumer preferences and adapt accordingly. Business leaders need to keep their organisations agile and focus on data-based decision making in order to propel their organisations forward.

For more intel into changing consumer preferences, download the State of Inbound Report today.

State of Inbound Report 2018