The internet has changed everything. Human lift is not the same now as it was in the pre-internet era. We are in a different age. A cultural and behavioural revolution has occurred.
Where do we now place value
With the increase in availability of similar (or the exact same) products through the explosion of capabilities in communication, technology and globalisation, over time the value we attach to products and services has shifted from the tangible to the non-tangible.
One hundred years ago the ‘market places’ of the world were uncluttered. The way products were marketed was on the basis of what a product was and what features it had. When consumers became used to being told what a product was and other, more refined products came to market with the same features the focus shifted to product benefits. The slight advantages of a product became the key driver of the advertising in order to get noticed. The more things that the product had the better the product and the more things there were to advertise. As time went on and competing products developed the same refined features the saturated marketplaces shifted to focus on the experience of the product. How did the product make a customer feel as they used it and engaged with the business that sold it? All of these things were based on marketeers attempting to find things to interrupt a consumers life to tell them about their product - but now, with the technology available to us things are very different.
In this last week, in the UK, we have seen two major retail giants declare bankruptcy (Toys R Us and Maplin). Fiona Cincotta, senior market analyst at City Index was quoted by the Guardian to of said: "Firstly, the squeeze on the consumer thanks to elevated levels of inflation, combined with wage declines in real term, which is causing consumers to rein in their spending on damaging level. And secondly, this reining back in spending couldn’t have come at a worst time in the high street’s history, as consumer habits change towards online shopping, favouring the likes of Amazon for their fast delivery and wider selection and more competitive pricing."
Earlier in the year Next reported that their physical retail stores had suffered a loss whilst their online store was booming. See here.
It must be recognised that things are changing. Fast.
The two main challenges of modern marketing
I believe there are two main challenges marketeers face.
1. Standing out
A consumer is now only two voice commands away from being able to obtain a product at any moment of the day. In this sense the resources available to them are more powerful now than ever before in the history of the world. However when that consumer hits their smartphone or makes their voice command there are so many products that do exactly the same thing that its difficult for them to make a decision as to which product they should choose. From a marketing perspective the biggest challenge therefore is to stand out in the crowded marketplace.