In an age of digital disruption and intense competition, experiences matter more than ever.
According to a study by Cadent Consulting Group, 51% of millennial consumers would buy from an unknown brand. This stands in stark contrast to the baby boomers, who are largely a brand-loyal bunch, raised as they were in an era of fewer choices and only one real media screen.
For today's consumers, it is all about the experience that a brand provides rather than recognition or reputation. In a B2C organization specifically, half of your market is at risk of moving based on a recommendation from someone they don’t even know. The younger generations tend to do a lot of research before they make buying decisions, so they are comfortable with trying new brands on nothing more than online recommendation.
Speaking at the Chief Digital Officer Forum this April, Mark Greenaway, Adobe’s Director of Digital Media, focused his presentation on experience as the new differentiator between brands.
“We say experiences matter more than anything else, at this point in time,” Mark says. “Experience has become the product, and our research backs this up quite strongly. It’s not so much the price, it’s not so much the product - the customers are loyal to a great experience. They’ll move for a better experience.”
Mark and his team view this shift as an opportunity for brands to both advance themselves and differentiate themselves by creating a positive experience. They call this new direction the ‘Experience Wave’, where nothing matters quite as much as the experience the customer has - not just in terms of using your product, but through interacting with your band more generally.
“Brands can differentiate themselves based on great experiences,” Mark says, “as opposed to product, as opposed to price, as opposed to localization or availability. This is going to be the key determinate of who succeeds and who fails - we believe it already is becoming that. So this is either an opportunity to go and grab share, or this is an opportunity to defend share.”
The way Mark and his team see it, the traditional form of customer loyalty - to brand, or to price, or even to localization - is dead. Generational change and the wealth of choice available thanks to online has led consumers to be respondent to each individual experience in isolation, as opposed to the wider brand. According to Adobe’s own research, 8/10 consumers agreed with the statement: ‘I am loyal to brands that offer delightful experiences’. This overrides considerations around price, premium vs non-premium product, or brand reputation. This means your brand is your experience. It can be a fickle market.
- Experience should be seamless and, importantly, paperless. Adobe is very hot on this. Users of Adobe software can sign things digitally, without the need for any paper. Telefonica, for example, managed to reduce 92% of the time taken to organize employee contracts by using Adobe PDF rather than paper. This, Mark points out, is an experience in of itself. When you remove all the friction involved in sending paper documents back and forth, both Adobe and the company using Adobe software both provide a positive experience to their customers.