“Two years ago, we saw that consumers were really concerned about privacy; they wanted to be more anonymous,” Natasha Hritzuk, senior director of Global Consumer Insights at Microsoft said in the Microsoft Digital Trends Study, 2015. “But what we’re really starting to see is a move away from that privacy conversation, and more of a conversation around controlling the narrative about ‘my digital self.’ Globally, 78% of consumers are aware of how their online presence, and the data it generates, powers the digital world. Consumers told us that they’re concerned not with the fact their footprint is out there, but rather what that footprint says about them and how effectively it translates into experiences they want.”
A few standout bits from the report are not surprising, yet do conjure up visions of this new era of marketing where consumers and marketers are partners in the design of products, services and the programs used to market/advertise.
Consumers want their technology to be “intelligently on”: meaning, during times that matter. They basically want technology to anticipate their needs and have a more human touch. This makes sense, when 75% indicate they are interested in wearables, and 60% in Internet of things- connected homes and objects. Combine this with 63% indicating they are interested in future technology that automatically filters content and messages. And another 53% indicate they are more likely to engage with experiences that allow them to personally shape their service, a trend Microsoft calls “Creative Me.”
We’ve all heard the term “life hacking" -- finding simple ways to make things better, like attaching a cupcake holder to the bottom of a popsicle to keep it from dripping on your hand. Digital life hacking has taken hold and you don’t need to be a coder to personalize and make technology meaningful to you today. The digital life hacks won’t be simply making email easier or optimizing your cloud, but connecting what you wear, with what you see, where you live, how you schedule, control and track your life.
This awareness of data is creating a new generation of consumers that love analytics. How many calories did I burn? What am I eating? How many miles can I get on my new hybrid when going uphill? Useful to some, meaningless to others.
What does this all mean to the marketer, who is sitting behind the firewall looking at petabytes of data? It starts with knowing your consumer. As all the trends suggest, this is a new age of discovery. Consumers expect brands to anticipate them, and this will become far more than recommendations based on past behavior. Consumers expect brands to design programs not only to be flexible to “me” and my changing patterns, but also to help “me” find new options that help me move outside my comfort zone. The future of marketing will be in the design of these products and experiences, not the channels in which they are delivered.
This trend reminds me of a quote by the writer Steward Brand” “Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you are part of the road.”