Think back to fifteen or
even ten years ago and considered how relatively disconnected everything was.
Furthermore, consider the relationships (or lack of relationships) people had
with businesses back then. They weren’t even remotely as notable, and there was
a greater divide between the daily lives of consumers and the brands they use
in their lives.
Now things are a bit
different. People are regularly following brands on Snapchat and the
proliferation content marketing has blurred the line between commercials and informational
content. Ads are seeping into our lives in new and creative ways as consumers
ignore previous methods faster than ever. All these effects have been brought about
by technology and the greater degrees of connectivity developed over the last
decade and continuing development today.
Here are a few ways we
can expect the online environment and the customer-business relationship to
change over the next few years. At the very least, these are the trends to
watch one way or another, as they’ll be indicative of the future of online
More Centralized Products and Services
From Amazon to Google to
other platforms, we are seeing many companies attempt to handle a wider variety
of sectors and then integrating them with each other to create a full
experience. The ultimate goal is likely to remove the need for people to use
different businesses entirely, keeping a customer on a single platform for all
From a physical product
and device perspective, we’re already seeing this with smartphones. Cameras
aren’t necessary for most people anymore with what’s available on smartphones.
There’s an app that works for everyone else. Experiments in Google Pay and
similar services are progressing and will
likely become the norm in a few years, making payments even easier
(perhaps to the detriment of the impulsive consumer). Simply put, more
companies are seeking greater market domination than before, and they have the
capability to do so.
It’s quite possible we
will see a future where the customer only uses a few businesses for everything
in their life, vesting changing the way the relationship is viewed by both
parties. A lost customer will be a greater profit loss for businesses, and
changing services will be more of a hassle due to centralization and a more
important decision for the customer.
A More Personalized Experience
You’re probably already
aware of this through the personized ads and product recommendations you get
(often regardless of what site you happen to be on). Through data collection,
businesses (especially large ones with the capabilities to maximize on big
data) can target the consumers they want, as opposed to a wide audience.
Organizations, at the end of the day and in most cases, are seeking to maximize
conversions, not views.
On the consumer side of
things, that means you will be more likely to see ads tailored to your exact
wants, needs, and interests. While this might be a good thing to some,
eventually we will see businesses continue to try and push the lines and get
more personal, likely to the point of discomfort for many consumers. An
important part of where the business-consumer relationship in the future is
where that line will be drawn.
Social Media Relationships and Experience
As mentioned before, the
proliferation of brand accounts on social media is an expected trend that most
of us didn’t think would to be as successful as it has been. Millions of people
follow companies with their Twitter accounts either freely or with the
enticement of special offers or contests, providing effectively a free direct
line to consumers.
The main takeaway from
this is that technology, and more specifically our use of it, has plugged us
into brands for nearly every waking hour for some of us, consider the average
screen time of a U.S. adult (about 11
hours a day). And marketers will see every second of that time as an
opportunity to develop a relationship with the consumer.
Investing and Demonstrations Will Change as Well
There’s more to the
customer-business relationship than what you might experience. Many people will
try additional demos as programs allow product tryouts and simulations more
often. Questions can be more easily researched and answered.
On the investment and
investment relations half of this equation, the pitches you might see on Shark
Tank might instead happen online more often, especially the services
and products involved are based online. Technology has made investment and
pre-ordering easier than ever, contributing to the growth of niche markets.
Alternately, we are
seeing a greater use of services such as Kickstarter and Patreon to fund
products, and while many of them currently fail to deliver according to
expectations, we might see larger businesses adopting these types of models,
allowing customers to have greater control over the products they want. “The
customer is always right” will become something far more literal in the coming
years, because the customer has already ordered what they want.
Too often might we look
at new inventions and technological advancements without looking at their
overall effects on the population and consumers. There is a greater trend
towards a more personalized relationship, and it will be interesting to see
whether people will embrace it or whether we will see backlash and adjustments.
Where do you see this
relationship headed? Are you alarmed or excited about changing trends? We
encourage you to share this post on social media to discuss it with your
colleagues and friends. We would also love to hear your thoughts on
Gizmocrazed’s social media pages, so please comment there as well.