It used to be simple. Buying was a linear experience. Consumers would move from awareness through consideration, express a preference, and make a purchase. Our role as marketers used to be clear – seduce consumers to move down that linear path. Business was easy – put product into the hands of the consumer, as quickly and efficiently as possible.
That’s changed! Digital experiences have created a new wave of Connected Consumerism. Consumers use multiple sources to obtain information, exchange reviews, and purchase products, often traversing multiple channels, social networks, websites and search engines, before and after they make a purchase.
In his recent book, Avinash Kaushik, Google’s analytics evangelist says, “When I walk into a supermarket, I don’t expect the employees to recognise me or rearrange the store for me. Yet when I visit an online supermarket, I am annoyed that on my third visit they still don’t know I live in California and they are not presenting me with items for sale at my local store.” Kaushik observes consumer expectations have changed. It’s not just online, as the majority of offline purchases are influenced by digital and social networks. Consumers expect brands to be accessible, available and contextually aware of who they are and what they want, across owned and influenced touch-points.
As more consumer journeys become digitally enabled, and consumer expectations evolve, the key to rich contextual experiences will remain consumer insight and the power of prediction, built on a foundation of Big Data.
India’s opportunity for Big Data is massive – not merely as a talent service provider to western markets, but in tapping new sources of consumer insight for a population whose behaviour has been poorly understood to date. The question is, 'Are Indian brands and marketers prepared to accept the challenge?'
The author, Sheldon Monteiro, is the Global Chief Technology Officer of SapientNitro, a company that has been at the forefront of the digital revolution in marketing. Monteiro is amongst the lead speakers at the exchange4media Conclave 2012, presented by Jagran. In the Delhi edition of the Conclave on October 22, 2012, he would be in conversation with Session Chair Lynn de Souza, Chairman and CEO, Lintas Media Group.