Gaining consumer trust and getting them to volunteer their data has never been as important for brands in this data-driven era. This is especially so with the upcoming “cookie-less world”, with Google phasing out third party cookies by 2022. This will mean brands will have to rely on their first party data for their marketing efforts. However, gaining consumer trust can be quite a tricky matter.
Speaking at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s recent virtual roundtable, in collaboration with SAP, Melissa Heng, business architect at SAP Customer Experience, said the first thing brands need to do to gain consumer trust is to put them in the driver’s seat.
In her conversations with participants across industries, she noted that companies are aware that they are no longer the ones crafting a journey or experience for their consumers. Instead, consumers are now the ones deciding their journeys, and companies just need to make sure they are prepared for the ride.
In the face of this change in consumers’ behaviour, companies are now focusing on creating ways that allows consumers to take the wheel, and this is only possible if consumers volunteer their information.
When consumers volunteer specific facts, such as how they like the colour pink or the scent of jasmine, it’s easier for brands to recognise the consumer and create that personalised consumer journey, as compared with brands assuming and tabulating the needs of the consumers’ preferences, Heng said.
Consumers today have access to technologies which enable them to research, find information of product or services and reviews. Consumers collaborate amongst each other. The only way to persist the relationship that the brand has built is to provide a level of transparency and respect of the consumer’s choice. With that in place, trust drives loyalty and advocacy.
Since consumers own their data, it is then up to brands to provide a seamless experience that will encourage consumers to volunteer the information to enable brands to serve them better. In this aspect, both consumer and brands are looking for increased convenience when it comes to transactions. Consumers are also on the look out for elasticity of experience, according to Heng.
Agreeing that the way to gain consumer trust is to provide a frictionless customer experience was Shirley Lam, senior vice-president for corporate affairs at Citibank Singapore.
At the end of the day, it is really about knowing the customer, leveraging on the data that we have on hand, and tailoring the right solutions or experiences to consumers.
Although it’s a pretty straightforward approach, Lam acknowledges the process can be quite complicated. This includes external factors such as choosing the right digital partners to work with to provide that experience.
Lam also added that companies have to be mindful of the various touch-points of consumers in their journey when creating that frictionless experience. Brands have to know when and where to interact with consumers to make the customer experience more efficient.
However, with the rapid rise of digital platforms comes an increased number of potential touch-points, and locating the right ones can be quite tricky for brands.
To counter this, Liew Suet Funn, general manager of brand at Amorepacific Malaysia, said the company has experimented and tried different digital platforms to reach its consumers to see which ones are more effective. These include newer platforms such as social selling on WhatsApp Business, and live-streaming on various online marketplaces, as well as its own platforms.
“There is no one touch-point. Consumers are also exploring which channel works for them, and they are always trying different things,” she said.
After understanding which channel captures their consumers’ attention the most, brands can streamline their marketing efforts to the more effective platforms. This also applies to advertising efforts.
According to her, Amorepacific Malaysia’s advertising was previously heavily invested across all its channels. But in the past few months, it has focused more on the digital side, rather than offline channels.
The rise of the omni-channel strategy
In 2020 alone, there are 400 million users online across Southeast Asia. As compared to a year back, this is an increase of 40 million new users who have joined the internet just this year, arguably the biggest jump in recent years.
Citing its most recent data, Adriana Chia, director of consumer insights at Nielsen, said 41% of people in Asia Pacific said they were shopping online more often than before the outbreak of COVID-19. This is the highest percentage, with the global increase only being 27%.
With such a high adoption rate in the region, it is a must for brands to get online to serve this new group of online users through their new preferred channels.
However, just being online does not quite cut it. While starting small for the initial launch to eCommerce is viable, brands need to be prepared for a robust commerce platform which allows customers to scale-up.
Zooming in on Singapore, Chia said that 80% of Singaporeans were found to be shopping on both online and offline platforms. While online shopping brings about more convenience, consumers are still seeing merits in offline. According to Chia, this trend signals the importance of having an omni-channel strategy for brands trying to engage consumers.
(Photo courtesy: 123RF)
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