As consumers become more connected through an increasing number of devices, their expectations are growing, spurred from standards introduced by industry leaders and new market entrants.
Consequently, all industry sectors, especially retail, are expecting to see rapid evolution in the next 5 years.

Bazaarvoice works with over 40% of the IR 500 and the world’s leading brands in many industry sectors, enabling it to have a unique perspective on future market evolutions and developments. As such we’ve identified five significant realities likely to influence the direction of the market in the next five years:

1). Seamless shopping experience: online, offline, and across devices

Customers are increasingly using multiple channels and devices throughout their purchase journey and, to be successful, brands need to reach consumers on whichever device they are using. Consumers only become conscious of the channel they are using when they are faced with the limitations inherent to that particular channel; ultimately, what they are seeking is a seamless cross-channel experience.

To accommodate changing consumer needs, market forerunners will create sophisticated strategies geared towards enabling consumers to convert on any channel and to maintain a consistent experience when switching between channels.

2). Dis-ownership and subscription economy

Consumers’ expectations are rising; they are starting to place as much, if not more, weight on the experience as they are on the actual product. They are now looking for convenience, customer-centricity, and personalised offers.

Those retailers that have successfully marketed themselves around these three pillars have found themselves in a unique position to leverage opportunities and customer loyalty through subscription models.

These models are aligned with consumers’ needs and are embedding themselves in the lives of their customers by becoming a supporting partner on a day-to-day basis. Brands and retailers need to consider the impact of dis-ownership on their business and create offers that are built around the customer, rather than the historical constraints of their industry.

3). The growth and importance of CGC

As consumers systematically turn to content created by their peers to make purchase decisions, brands and retailers need to differentiate themselves by offering all types of content (rational, emotional, supportive, and engaging) at all engagement points.

Consumers expect a personalised experience and will engage with contextually relevant advertising and personalised brand messages that include text and photos, and ignore more traditional and repetitive mass-media ads.

Furthermore, consumers will become savvier about their data and will only share if they feel they get value in return. There will be increasing pressure to know your audience and your consumers beyond today’s common demographics. To remain relevant, brands and retailers will need to derive deep consumer insights from social, customer interaction and preference data.

4). Emotional & logical engagement

Some consumers think logically, some emotionally, and some both, at the various stages of the consumer journey. For a long time, consumers lived within the limitations of eCommerce websites but the innovation surrounding today’s social networks allows for new interaction models that consumers use for several hours every day.

Leading brands and retailers are developing differentiating experiences to win over their markets and create more loyalty, which is resulting in a decreasing tolerance of limitations from the consumer. Their expectations are much higher and they have no qualms about taking their business somewhere else if they are not engaged in the correct way. Everyone will be expected to reassure, help, be transparent, and inspire.

So, brands and retailers will not only need to ask themselves if they have the right content types to appeal to consumers at all stages of their journey, but also what components are still required to create a successful customer engagement.

5). Co-branding and co-innovation

Thanks to YouTube, blogs, and social networks, consumers are commenting on and remixing brand messages, videos, and imagery. They tweak, recreate, and re-publish the brand message on a daily basis. The traditional notion of copyright is being challenged as the voices of consumers blend with the marketer’s messages.

More and more, consumers feel ownership in their favourite brands and will come to their defence if the brands are under attack. Conversely, they will voice their concerns publicly if they feel that their values or needs are not being respected. This represents an immense opportunity for companies to better align with their customers and make them feel part of what they are creating.

Here are examples of how seriously brands and retailers are taking customer feedback and adjusting their offering accordingly:

- Reebok offering fully customised shoes
- John Lewis making changes to a pillow’s feathers as a result of negative reviews
- Argos adapting products based on customer feedback
- Things Remembered customising teddy bears

Consumers are already expecting retailers and brands to adapt to their needs and react to their feedback more systematically. For success in the future, companies will need to have a constant pulse check on their customer base, offering them a platform to create and interact with consumer-generated content when and where they need it.


By Aurelien Dubot, Product Marketing Director, EMEA at Bazaarvoice


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