When I was in school, I spent a lot of time playing outdoor games with my friends, and Cadbury’s chocolate was a treat for me. But my son’s favourite pastime is playing PSP or Wii, and a treat for him means a trip to McDonalds or hi-tech gaming zones. Even I am very different in my attitude, expectations from a brand vis-à-vis my father at this age. Consumer traits are constantly evolving and hence marketing trends are changing the retail landscape with different perceptions about age, lifestyle, desires and social structure. While some basic concepts like gaining trust remain the same and are the foundation of consumer behaviour, there are also these key seven new age consumer traits that make today’s consumer distinctly different from the previous generation.
Mobile is the new best friend: Mobile phones have become an increasingly important part of India’s social landscape with rural markets overtaking the urban market in terms of growth. It is indeed the new best friend of the current generation. Mobile phones in India are morphing from a mere tool of communication to a complete service and entertainment provider. It is a platform no company can ignore.
Age is not the key demographic anymore: Gone are the days when age proved to be the key demographic, when people followed a linear lifestyle from school, college to marriage to buying a home, educating children to retirement. Today, many return to school at 30, have kids in their 40s and may retire before they are even 50. Today’s customer no longer fits into neat slabs of age characteristics or responds to the same hot buttons as their peers, in terms of aspirations and lifestyle.
Digital is not an option to reach the consumer, it is a necessity: An average customer spends more than half of his working day surfing the web, sharing content, watching online videos, chatting, downloading files or blogging. India has the second largest Facebook population in the world after the US and Facebook itself monopolises about 7 per cent of all business network traffic every day globally. There are hundreds of new bloggers and customers joining online communities and platforms every single minute, hence any company who ignores the digital media will be left out in the not so far future. Virtual trust is on the rise with people posting and discussing experiences about any brand or services. Companies are vying to enhance consumer experience in the digital world by managing and book-marking social web pages, answering unasked questions and creating more services and utility online.
They need both tangible and intangible benefits: With high competition and plenty of choices available, it is not just the services or a product feature that lures the customer, there has to be a connect. The new-age consumer would continue to find comfort in brands that provide both emotional connect and tangible benefits.
Data security is a concern for new age customer: Technology platforms and services like consumer hardware, such as smart phones, Skype, buying online insurance policies, online banking, instant messaging have found a new functionality in our lives. The new age customer is living with an integration of all these devices, applications and technology and sharing sensitive and personal data like credit card details and bank information online. However, there is also a nagging fear in today’s customer psyche about the proliferation or misuse of this personal data. Safeguarding these bits of sensitive data is an absolute must for businesses to ensure customer trust.
Customers see themselves as the stars: Power-wowing today’s customer, especially the youth, with glamour and celebrity is definitely on the decline. With rising confidence levels, the youth see themselves as their own stars.
Today’s customer is smarter, sharper and more socially conscious: Today’s customer knows what they want and can easily find where to get it. They are tech-savvy and have access to instant information. They don’t mind discussing merits as well as criticising a particular service or a product with strangers in online forums and other platforms. Prior to the Internet, a customer’s sphere of influence was limited. Now customers are making themselves heard via the Internet through social networking sites and blogs. With focus on retaining customers, businesses are educating their workforce on dealing with clients, as most customers stop dealing with a business because they’re upset with the treatment they receive.
(Gaurav Rajput is Director - Marketing, Aviva Life Insurance.)