As millennials have become the most coveted consumer group, many brands vying for their attention have missed a key fact — that their competition is much broader than it used to be. Alongside the rise of millennial buying power, mobile technology has steadily created a consumer expectation for nearly instant, always-convenient customer engagement, no matter what vertical your company lives in. Yes, brands will continue to jostle for consumer spend and attention with direct competitors. However, mobile-first millennials no longer give the benefit of the doubt based on industry, instead comparing your digital offering against every other digital experience they encounter during their day.
Consumers want the best of everything, everywhere.
Always-on access to the web has fused the worlds of entertainment, retail and everything in between, leading to younger shoppers demanding a lot more from your brand’s digital experience. If a social media platform can offer a great app experience, why can’t you? If a food delivery disruptor can offer quick delivery at the tap of a button, why can’t you? If a fashion brand offers the ability to digitally try on clothes before purchase, why haven’t you developed a way to trial your product outside the store?
Consumers don’t care what industry you’re in. They don’t want the best “hotel” app. They want the best of Airbnb, Uber, Google Maps and Facebook wrapped in your corporate hotel app.
The standards might seem outrageously high, but there’s no getting around them. The upside? Consumers genuinely love brands that offer seamless interactions and make their lives better. If you can provide a great customer experience, you’ll be rewarded with genuine loyalty.
Be more relevant.
If you want these shoppers’ time and attention, you can’t rely on the type of marketing that has worked in the past. You’re no longer fighting for attention with similar companies; you’re fighting for time and attention with every digital experience. If a shopper is spending time with your content or digital experience, they’re doing so instead of scrolling through images of their friend’s bridal shower or making dinner plans via text.
That means you need to work extra hard to be relevant, interesting and entertaining and to provide value. It also means creating mobile-first content to appeal to shoppers via whatever device they’re using to engage with you.
You also need to understand that the specific language you use in your positioning and marketing will be viewed in relation to marquee brands, not your closest competitor. If you claim to offer personalization, your customers expect Facebook-level personalization. If you’re touting convenience, they’ll be looking for Uber-like ease of use. Offering great selection? You’re going to be compared to Amazon. Those comparisons may seem unfair, but they’re the new standard. Your digital experience needs to live up to the best of the best.
Who’s doing it well?
With the bar being so high, it’s difficult to imagine non-tech companies thriving in this new era of heightened demands, but there are success stories both in and outside of technology-first companies.
One of the best examples of digital experience changing a traditional vertical is Wealth Simple, a company that is being highly disruptive in the Canadian financial services space. Their business model is offering services (RRSP, savings accounts, RESPs) that traditionally come from big banks, but their success is driven by their focus on the customer. Their entire service places user experience, ease of use, customer service and simplicity at the center of everything. Even though they’re offering the services of a bank, their UX and communications/marketing strategies borrow best practices from across several industries and verticals to deliver a service that people genuinely want to use.
Tesla is another brand borrowing from outside their industry to stand out from the competition. Rather than basing their design and sales strategy on traditional automakers, they behave more like a tech company that just happens to build cars. Instead of using new features to entice drivers to buy a new car every year to get the latest bells and whistles, Tesla charges more for vehicles upfront, then delivers software updates that use existing hardware to do new things. This model is a huge win for consumers, continually delivering value without asking them to upgrade the hardware (aka, the car).
The heightened demands and wide array of new competition for companies sounds scary, but it should be seen as a chance to try new things and push your brand to new levels. Every company should lean forward and set the bar higher, looking to not just be better than their competitors, but to be the best overall. If you can get close, your customers will love you, repaying the favor with loyalty like you’ve never seen before.
Zero Gravity Labs is the innovation arm of LoyaltyOne, focused on the changing face of loyalty and customer experience. To learn more about how LoyaltyOne and Zero Gravity Labs can help you create highly relevant, personalized communications that increase sales and drive customer engagement, contact Michael Cohen firstname.lastname@example.org