Our economy is undergoing a dramatic transformation.
The consumer is becoming an integral player in the products we market in the wake of that change.
In the New Economy, the customer plays an integrated role in the value-creation chain along with AI, social media, and third-party partners.
For vendors, the task of understanding their own offerings is becoming increasingly complex. As a result, they no longer have the same control over their products that they once enjoyed.
For us as marketers, the New Economy means that we must shift our focus from optimizing customer transactions to enriching the customer experience.
The progression to a service economy and beyond
Fundamental shifts in the economy are nothing new. In the past, economic progress was driven by a change in the value proposition of commercial offerings. We experienced the Industrial Revolution when we moved from an agricultural economy (lower-valued raw material commodities) to an industrial economy (higher-valued finished goods).
Over the decades, goods were transformed into services, or into goods-and-service packages as the most important drivers of economic activity and value added.
More recently, however, services, like goods, have been facing increasingly higher price competition, continuing the natural progression into commoditization.
Today there is less leeway for marketers to surprise and delight consumers with differences in product features and benefits, or standard services.
What we’re seeing now is that the perceived lower-value goods and services are being bundled into something more comprehensive – the higher-valued offering of the New Economy.
We’re seeing a major shift where products are, in part, designed by consumers and become part of a bundle of experiences.
Clearly, in the current economic climate marketing professionals need to go back to the drawing board.
A case in point
While the fundamentals in marketing remain constant in the New Economy, strategic planning requires a change in marketing perspective that involves a shift in focus and a different approach. Marketers need to keep in mind that the consumer is part of the product, and everything else adds value to the process.
Let’s consider Apple, for example. Apple’s iPhones and other products have become part of a bundle of personalized customer engagements and experiences.
Apple provides entertainment, information, storage, and supporting technology as well as communication. Think of the music, apps, payment services, watches, Siri assistance, and AI-driven software advice that blend to become a well-orchestrated, higher-value offering across space and time.
Apple controls – and expands – a network of consumer touchpoints that deliver meaningful sensations and impressions, both tangible and intangible.
And it is not just Apple that provides this type of bundle of engagements. Brands including Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Nike are also building similar customer supporting ecosystems designed and structured to support, teach, and guide consumers on practical matters in their everyday lives. These ecosystems maintain a laser-sharp focus on the individual preferences of consumers.
In the New Economy, these companies offer an amalgam of interdependent goods, services, experiences, and personalized assistance.
The role of smaller companies
The goal of marketing for small and mid-sized companies remains the same – to maximize customer-life value by cultivating long-term relationships.
To that end, smaller businesses will continue to adopt marketing technology and integrate second or third-party AI-driven tools to create their own omni-channels.
In the omni-channel approach, the business-customer relationship is viewed as part of an ecosystem where every aspect of marketing plays a role that is aligned with a well-defined marketing strategy.
In the future, companies will continue to optimize the user experience by using data science to uncover customer preferences, interests, and lifestyles.
Armed with hard information, businesses will be able to predict what the customer wants and provide personalized engagements to meet those needs. Companies will take greater control of promotional and advertising activities with direct engagements like email, messaging, and websites.
The road ahead
In the New Economy, the business-customer relationship will continue to be viewed as an ecosystem with interdependent connections between customers, the company, and partners.
Businesses will emphasize connectivity and the synthesis of goods, services, experiences, and personalized assistance.
This new approach to marketing is aimed at a higher purpose, for both consumers and the greater community.
Marketing professionals would do well to reconsider the View From Consumers from the perspective of our new economic context.