Over the past year, more and more people have been forced to engage in online experiences because of the pandemic. But as things open up and in-person experiences resume, consumers are in many ways still opting for digital experiences, which has implications for how brands connect with their audiences both digitally and IRL (in real life).
In the past year, 26% of consumers tried telemedicine for the first time, 15% attended a virtual event (including conferences) and 12% used retail pickup. And of course, those who had previously tried those behaviors were forced to use them more frequently.
The interesting thing, however, is that many of the behaviors that people preferred to do in person pre-pandemic, have high percentages of consumers who now prefer to do them online. Somewhere between 44-57% of consumers prefer shopping, working and watching movies online. Many professionals prefer online event attendance to save time and money. And in general, people want more than ever before to interact with brands on their terms.
What It Means:
Consumer expectations around experiences – whether online or IRL – are higher than ever. People want to be able to learn, explore and buy where and how they want to, and they expect the experience to meet their needs. If brands want them to get up off of their couches and leave their homes, they better make it worth their while.
What Marketers Should Do:
From a virtual perspective, brands need to invest in ways to make their digital experiences closer to real-life experiences. They need to invest in tools, technology and resources that can help their audiences imagine, interact with and understand how the brand can add value to their lives.
Home improvement brand? Invest in tools that help audiences envision the brand in their house. Travel and tourism brand? Create immersive experiences that help travelers see, feel and get a glimpse of what your brand offers. If you don’t fuel the imagination of your audiences, someone else will.
Artificial intelligence can also be a valuable tool. Brands can use AI to understand preferences and recommend options, connecting with their audiences that much faster.
From an IRL perspective, after being cooped up for over a year, B2B and B2C audiences are hungry for the unique, tangible experiences they’ve been missing. But in the same vein, they are much more discriminating about how they choose to invest their time. Brands should take advantage of this desire for experience to build affinity and interest through one-of-a-kind branded activations and stunts, or through elevated trade show/conference experiences that stimulate the mind and the imagination.
Is your brand messaging meeting today’s consumers’ demands?