Yes, The customer of the future will be human but they will demand convenience, choice and cost effectiveness.
Elaine Herlihy, head of marketing and brand for Westpac kicked off yesterday’s MAD Week debate saying: “I hear lots of terminology that talks about the ‘digital’ customer or the ‘mobile’ customer. I don’t know what I am. I think I’m just a person.”
Herlihy sees technology as an enabler that helps consumers do the things they want to do, or satisfy their needs, regardless of what the device actually is. She said: “The customer of the past, present and future is still human.”
The panel, chaired by UM Australia’s CEO Mat Baxter, consisted of Jane Huxley, managing director of Pandora Radio Australia, Alice Manners, CEO of the IAB, Lucinda Barlow, head of marketing for Australia and New Zealand Google and Herlihy.
Huxley said: “The customer of the future – it’s a little bit like crack to people who are in the business of disruption. The customer of the future is at the very heart of all of disruption.”
The music streaming boss urged the audience to think about what they are providing their customers. She said: “There are three ways that we can compete with each other in this day of digital disruption. To meet the needs of the future customer, you must have all three: choice, cost and convenience.”
Huxley outlined how the internet has made products more available, ubiquitous and has given us a world of choice and global information, while noting how brands and organisations are not meeting the needs of the next generation consumer.
She said: “I challenge today that we are really not walking a mile in their shoes, and we are not measuring the right things as CEOs and managers or boards of organisations to meet the needs of the future of customers.”
Suggesting that while the customer of the future may believe they are both informed and in charge, they could also be really confused and are “waiting for someone to make clear the choices in front of them”.
Looking further than the customer of the future, the discussion moved into where brands of the future will put their money.
“The thing that I think is interesting right now, is watching consumers disappear into the world of apps,” said Huxley.
“When you think about the mass exodus to mobile, that’s irrefutable at this point in time. We’re living in a mobile world that’s only going to get more mobile.”
There’s no point denying that mobile is on the rise, but according to Google’s Barlow, the mobile experience today is “pretty broken”.
“Only half of the very top brands in Australia have a presence that looks anywhere decent on mobile.
“But it’s our customers that have demanded and driven this mobile revolution really, in only a couple of years. It absolutely blows my mind to think what that would mean for the next year.”
While Barlow believes programmatic will continue to be in play for where brands spend their money, Huxley says that it depends what brands want to say and how much they want to talk to their customers.
“There are brands that will just turn to programmatic because they’re after a transaction, they’re after a quick relationship, they’re driven by different metrics. Other brands want to be more enduring and have an ongoing lifecycle relationship with a customer.”