Today's consumer often has conflicting expectations. They exist in a world with a real FOMO so they desperately want to be hyper-connected, yet at the same time they don't want to be 'marketed to' when they are connected.

They want to know about the latest, newest, coolest 'new-new' thing, yet they're fundamentally inured to advertising and marketing messages, whilst completely happy to trust product and service recommendations from friends, family and Facebook.

Given this reality, how do brand marketers achieve cut through to connect with new customers and audiences? What strategies should they be adopting, and what technologies do they need to be leveraging, to subtly wend their way in front of consumers (become top of mind with a consumer who no longer cares what they have to say) who no longer care what they have to say?

In this context, I believe there three key challenges businesses are facing right now and these revolve around what they know about their customers through data, the shift in what the customer perceives as valuable and, as a result, the insatiable quest of consumers for even better brand experiences.


Challenge number one, 'big data', does not automatically mean great insight. In fact any data does not mean great insight.

Most businesses have transactional data, advertising data, and customer data yet are struggling to discover what is important to their customers, why their customers are behaving in a certain way and what they want next.

We see many Kiwi businesses have great success but have a limited understanding as to why they are successful.

Why did sales go up? Why are they doing better than competitors? What should theye do to keep ahead of the pack? All these businesses have is really just inflexions in their data and inference.

What they really lack is an understanding of who their customer is, what makes them tick and why their customers are doing what they are doing.

In many cases engaging with their customer, speaking with them, observing them or immersing in their world can often provide the answers to these questions but more importantly give y a steer on what they want next from you.

This understanding of why leads us to challenge number two which is that consumers are hungry for great brand experiences. Consumers are now hyper-connected and expect more of the brands they engage with every day.

They want to move seamlessly between digital and real world situations, expecting brands to keep up and know who they are.

This is challenging as digital technologies provide consumers a new lens on brands and new ways to engage every day. There's the opportunity for brand relationships to evolve because of technology.

Consumers crave the utility of digital interfaces yet they love having real world immersive brand and product experiences. The trick here is to know when they want to speak to a person and when they just want a 'teflon' digital experience. The balance is hard to find and varies wildly by category, brand and product.

Driving the balance leads us to challenge number three, the consumer's new value equation. This is not necessarily a challenge. In fact it could be an oppotunity to bring margin back into a category.

Consumers who expect more from brands are also happy to pay more.

Who would have thought it! Just look at what Nadia Lim has done to the preparation of meals.

Consumers are paying more, much more for food but she has removed the thought. What a service. I get a great meal, that is easy to prepare and I really don't have to think too much about the ingredients I have in the fridge because they are already there. She hasn't destroyed grocery but she has bought margin back into a category where there wasn't much. This layering of service experience and digital utility has proven incredibly success here and in many other areas.

Truly understanding the pain point of scrambling ingredients together has led to this higher margin technology led service innovation. The key takeaway here is that people will pay where they see value and that value is no longer simply wrapped up in the product.

To tackle these challenges businesses need to talk to people, talk to each other and talk to their customers. They need to look for the 'whys?' and 'what nexts?'. They need need to continually strive to understand how their customers relationship with their brands are constantly evolving with digital technologies so they can innovate and provide better value for their customers and more growth through margin for themselves.

These types of discussions will be happening at iMedia Brand Summit New Zealand in Nelson this year on July 4-6, where more than 50 of New Zealand's top brand and digital marketers will come together at the summit, to learn, share ideas and experiences.

For many of them, it will accelerate their journey but for some it will be the beginning.