Marketing:Technology is Changing the Rules
By Kristie Willmott Group Director of E-Business & Customer Development, Jumeirah | January 27, 2012
Picture a virtual universe (known in the business as "metaverses") where millions of real, adult consumers may spend hours a day. While there, they spend real money to stay at your virtual resort while they play golf, shop, dine, meet one another and sightsee. They live your brand.
This is no fantasy; it's already happening, and some of the world's biggest brands - though very few in the world of travel and tourism - are taking full advantage. And, why not? Where else can you grab the attention of potentially your most valuable customers, for hours instead of seconds? How else can you reach consumers where they really want to be, in real time, while they're doing what they want to do? A newspaper advertisement glanced at quickly and thrown away? A tagline on the radio? A television commercial that is TIVOed away?
Technology - particularly personal technology - is changing the rules of marketing and advertising with blinding speed. As quickly as new communications and information managing devices change consumer lifestyles, new consumer expectations demand even newer technologies. Remember VHS? The Walkman? It has been estimated that, today, the lifespan of any single consumer communications device is less than 18 months before it is reconceived or improved. The result is what Trendwatching.com has called the "Master of the Youniverse," a "new consumer who creates his or her own playground, own comfort zone, own universe."
The expectations of today's consumers, spurred on by technology that puts a world of information and entertainment within instant reach at any time of day or night, are dramatically different from those of only a few years ago. Technological advances that were predicted to create more leisure time have, instead, empowered people to live vastly busier existences, even to live multiple lives and have multiple identities. For the marketer, and especially the marketer of lifestyle products or services, the new consumer represents enormous opportunities and daunting challenges. Because the online universe is still largely best understood by the young, that new consumer also represents our future market (how we make our current customers, who may be less "cyber-savvy," comfortable with technology is of tremendous importance and will be addressed in a future article).
How have the rules of marketing and advertising changed? Today's "instant world" means that our audiences expect their content, their information and the access to it, to be available when and how they want it. They expect instant access (even dial-up internet access is now unacceptable) and instant gratification. With every second of their lives occupied and bombarded by incoming information, their time is limited, they want to able to make decisions quickly. They have no time to wait and no interest in sifting through information that does not interest them. So, how do we reach them? Some observations:
The static content of offline marketing is out; no time lags are allowed. As the Economist has pointed out, consumers used to be viewed as a "theoretical audience" to whom advertisers had "the privilege of exposing" their message. Adopting what I view as almost a "one size fits all" approach, the traditional marketer could only "hope" that the message caught the eye when the reader closed the magazine or passed the billboard enroute to work. Today, we need to make it possible for the consumer to interact with the message in real time and take measurable action.