Talking to your consumers is just not what it used to be.
Think about the smiling spokesmen outside your shop with free samples (and free spiel). The in-house representatives lying slumped over desks, waiting to help a puzzled peruser. Pimpled teenagers with head-sets running your drive-through service.
When it comes to consumer relations, they’re not exactly a relic of the past, but you’re probably going to leave them behind for something new: conversational marketing.
If you don’t already know what I’m talking about, you’ll probably remember a little thing called “chatbots”, from over ten years ago when they’d first shown up on the scene, a fresh and intelligent creation, but inspiring very little motivation for you to take seriously. Sure, they had some pretty cool applications, but there was no way you could expand this for consumer use. So, why now?
The pressure was on
- No more in-person or window shopping.
- It was perhaps impossible now not to brand with cognisance and relevance of something so world-wide.
- Your consumer was working-from-home, confined to its interior.
Who was in the best position to adjust to this new normal?
D2C - swimming circles around the rest
D2C’s have a long-practiced ability to meet these challenges. As Nik mentions in our conversation, the foundations of a good D2C brand are its
- content messaging (think about the emails and newsletters you’re getting from your brands)
- the community around its product
- personalisation of product fulfilment.
The pandemic burned every physical bridge between the consumer and brand. This did not seem to disturb D2C brands, whose fundamental business practices involve their customers in ways that have not depended on these physicalities, and in a manner that must anyway call for being regularly communicative in its content.
What does this mean?
Brands like Judy, Poo-pourri and Haus that have operated from the start on a direct basis, cut out intermediaries and moved away from conglomerate approval, are symptoms of a successful, growing digital culture of consumerism. Here, the only thing between you and your buyer is an internet connection. And this equation became a desired reality for many more in 2020’s new COVID-sphere.
The proof is in decentralisation
Like those fountains that feed the water back into themselves, brands are becoming more responsible for facilitating loops of communication and accountability with their patrons. What we’re seeing through a greater online-creator economy is an increasing decentralisation of business itself, paying off majorly in a time of global crisis. “E-commerce as a whole has seen a massive increase [in 2020], one that would have probably taken 8-10 years to see otherwise”, according to Nik. COVID-19 has forced business creativity and growth in a way that came natural to some players, who now perhaps represent the future of brand-consumer relations.
In other words, those who “swam” could show us what matters in branding here on out. For instance, when Nik says he likes “explaining the why, not the what, and that’s usually easier to do through content”, he emphasises that content marketing is a new feature of priority among creators like him. With Design Grid, we’re diving deep into other priorities like this as they change over time. Looking at the models, mindsets and products that have made unflappable strides, we’re learning survival instincts from the best.