Forrester: Rapid tech adoption giving marketers false sense of consumer behaviour

Report claims digital disruption is causing customers to apply less rational decision marketing to purchases than before, and looks at how to minimise rather than add to this consumer stress

A barrage of digital technology is causing customers to apply less rational decision-making processes, making their behaviour more difficult for marketers to anticipate.

That’s the view of Forrester VP and principal analyst for B2C marketing, Shar VanBoskirk, in her latest report, How People Choose. The report claims the pandemonium of media and devices that have been triggered by digital disruption has aggravated natural consumer stress when it comes to decision making. This has made buyers even less rational.

As a result, the future of marketing will be about more personal branding and one-to-moment marketing and less about advertising, the report stated.

Getting consumers to choose your brand by marketing to the critical influences means investing in becoming an ‘anchor brand,’ the report suggested. Anchor brands are reference points against which buyers compare every other option, resonate with empowered customers, and are trusted.

If you already are an anchor brand, the report recommended demonstrating your brand promise by “being visibly and functionally useful”. Brands also need to fight fiercely to save their spot by investing in loyalty programs, shelf space and brand awareness.

With advertising spending predicted to decline, the Forrester report also advised a more personalised approach to marketing, which means a shift from one-to-one marketing to one-to-moment marketing.

To help marketers minimise the level of stress triggered with consumers, Forrester offered a number of recommendations around helping consumers make decisions. The first was to “curate common considerations” by limiting consumer options and marketing concepts as much as possible.

“One hard part about marketing to irrational customers is that while too much choice overwhelms us, we lose interest when there isn’t enough. Accommodate overstimulated, hyperadoptive consumers’ ‘diminishing half-life of delight’ by methodically adding to your product experiences,” the report advised. “Or innovate in small ways that are adjacent to your original concept.”

In addition, offset a consumer’s concerns around potential loss by tackling buyer’s remorse head-on, the report stated. As an example of how to do this, it pointed to Zappos outsmarted buyers’ remorse with its guaranteed return shipping.

According to the report, marketers who have grasped these principles are actively participating in users’ decision processes, help guide them at points of stress, and even support irrational influences by recognising emotional and personal preferences as part of the buying experience.

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