FUTR Group (formerly Millennial 20/20) is a watering hole for future-focused leaders who want to see “what’s next”, understand how to bridge the gap between now and next, while carrying forward authentic values with no baggage. The global insights business and summit series on the future of retail, marketing and commerce brings together 3,000+ brands, retailers, solution providers, investors, media and start-ups in New York, London, Singapore and Sydney. Rupa Ganatra, founding partner of FUTR Group, spoke at Arcadier Inspire, a virtual summit and competition for online marketplaces. She shared some perceptive insights on the future trends of commerce, retail and customer engagement. Let’s look at some of these trends.
Trends in Customer Engagement
Consumer Behaviour – Millennial Mindset
The term ‘millennial mindset’ is not an uncommon phrase in customer engagement today. When we first hear the words ‘millennial mindset’, many of us may think of the age demographic of people born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s to early 2000s. However, Rupa explains that the ‘millennial mindset’ is not about an age demographic, but the evolving consumer behaviour regardless of age. Examples of such changing behaviour include an inclination towards instant gratification, convenience, ease of use and having a frictionless experience through all touchpoints between consumer and brand. Rupa reinforces that it is the shift in mindset that is disrupting the commerce landscape and it is paramount for companies to explore and understand what this evolution and mindset is.
‘Time is the biggest scarce resource today.’ Rupa highlights the importance of respecting the time of customers. As personalization continues to be a strategic pillar of marketing efforts, there is a prominent rise in the diversity of ways that brands and retailers are trialing to engage customers, which Rupa lauds. Businesses may offer bespoke customization and tailored offerings, in a bid to let customers feel like they are the business’s only customer.
The Art and Science of Marketing
Traditionally, marketing has been known as a creative role. While marketing still heavily involves a lot of inventive and artistic elements today, Rupa asserts that there is an increase in discussion around data-driven marketing decisions. This dialogue is booming with the increasing quality and quantity of marketing data, empowering explosive growth in the science of marketing.
Today’s marketing paradigm seeks a delicate balance of art and science. Rupa maintains the importance of not leaning too much into either side of the equation as the ‘magic has to be both of these combined’. Increasingly, to feed the new marketing paradigm, companies are also evolving their internal structure. In companies, new roles are being created, like the Chief of Innovation and Head of Customer Experience. Departments and teams are reorganized, such as having the analytics team working with marketing team. Companies are searching for that synergy generated by effectively bridging art and science, that will explosively boost marketing outcomes.
A Two-Way Conversation
Rupa also emphasizes that retail and commerce is all about building and interacting with your business’s community today - having a two-way conversation. Gone are the days of pushing products and advertisements out, and expecting consumers to purchase the product or interact with the company. Instead, businesses need to build a community around their vertical, or target market. The community will enable a two-way conversation between the business and consumers, which in turn allows businesses to understand their customers on a hyper-personalised level. Rupa believes that many customers, like herself, seek authenticity in a brand, company and product. Customers today do not just buy the product that is created by a company, they buy the story behind the product. For example, when Apple marketed the iPod, they did not just advertise the storage and functionalities but presented it as ‘1000 songs in your pocket’. Customers want to believe in the product they purchase. With customers ever increasingly empowered and autonomous, businesses need to expect their needs and inspire their decisions, in order to transform into a valued part of their lives.
Trend Towards Hypervertical, Hyperlocal and Sustainable Models
Lastly, Rupa also talks about how business models will continue to change as consumers’ preferences evolve. Now, imagine you wanted to buy a crimson knitted scarf. The crimson scarf from your local store produces the product at the closest point of consumption, in effect massively reducing the amount of carbon footprint from the production. On the other hand, the crimson scarf sold by the legacy brand goes through an entire chain of importing, exporting and lots of cross-border action. The effect of this tiny example of a product is amplified multiple times when we talk about the colossal amount of carbon dioxide emissions embodied in international trade flows. With increasing consumer consciousness where people seek out ways to make positive decisions about what to buy, today’s business models seem to be increasingly headed towards hypervertical, hyperlocal and more sustainable models.
Watch the entire Arcadier Inspire Summit talk by Rupa Ganatra here