Of course, the point of using innovative research, co-creation with customer and observing behaviour is to understand your specific design and growth challenge. At On Tap it’s important not to generalise, creating bland, sweeping customer segments and instead create rich customer personas for product, service and experience design.
But here is a snapshot of how some things are changing in your customer's connected world – the kind of behaviour and technology thinking that can be tailored to your innovation, to stimulate ideas and fuel new design thinking in project workshops.
1. A NEVER-ENDING STORY
Customers expect to communicate and buy from you in every channel at anytime - a continuous, seamless ‘omnichannel’ conversation. They are becoming intolerant of brands with ‘breaks’ in their interactions. And brands miss opportunities to sell when they don't join the dots and can't service a customer in the channel the customer wants to use at any point in time.
2. MINDBOGGLING MESSAGES
We’re surrounded by numerous means to communicate from anywhere. That means we can be bombarded with cluttered messages. Old advertising struggles to get through. Clear, authentic product stories, with real benefits, cut through and create their own marketing - making stories that can be shared.
3. INTERNET OF EVERYTHING
Another leap forward in connectivity. The Internet of Things ‘fourth industrial revolution’ connects more of our products and experiences – no longer just our gadgets with screens, now our homes, cars, health and fitness devices, and more, can all be connected. This means your business can connect with customers in places where it was never possible before and in ways that are more relevant to your brand.
4. UPGRADE IMPATIENCE
The constant updates of digital apps and products mean we expects things to improve at a faster rate than before, with ‘broken’ products or processes expected to be fixed more quickly, and innovative new competing products and brands hotly anticipated. Customers are impatient and can use technology to switch allegiance fast – but they’ll only change if the benefits are big enough. How can you make a demonstrate continuous product and experience improvement, showing that you can respond to customer feedback and changing needs better than your competition?
5. ANTICIPATE FOR ME
Old customers tolerated brands generally knowing who they were - first, through segmented products, then through clever '90s loyalty card data and CRM targeting. Today, customers increasingly expect a more tailored experience, that can recognise more than basic transaction data and and can understand their behaviour to better anticipate their preferences and future needs.
6. A.I. TALK CHALLENGES TOUCH
The rise of Artificial Intelligence and ‘zero UI’ (user interfaces without screens) could be challenging the on tap revolution of smart phones and tablets to organise our lives! ‘Ok Google…’, Siri, Amazon Echo and secure voice recognition could be just the beginning - giving us new ways to control things without touch and type. Rise of the robots or freeing staff to serve customers better?
7. LET ME IN
The continuous dialogue with brands provided by social media means that businesses can no longer just broadcast to customers, expecting passive consumers. The brands that maintain a conversation will be the ones that survive as customers expect to influence and shape ‘their’ brands directly. Whistle-blowers expose any consistencies in product, service and values too. This new transparency means crowd-funding shared ownership, customer-generated content, co-creating designs and open responses when things go wrong.
8. LOCAL & AUTHENTIC
As business start-up and customised manufacturing technology costs fall, the economics of smaller, local businesses have improved. Meanwhile, consumers have grown tired of seeing the same brands everywhere and concerned about over-processed products. Locally-minded businesses, with great stories about why they set up and what they’re about, are winning growing niche market shares as people want to put more money back into local communities. How could every brand make better connections with local customers?
9. SHARE VS OWN
Some say tough economic times drove the sharing economy, others the tech came of age – giving us digital platforms to share assets like cars, taxis and our homes for holidays. But in the most advanced economies, do people think they already own enough stuff, and that life’s just simpler when you subscribe and share?
10. MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE
Building on the idea of having enough stuff, there’s growing recognition that great experiences drive happiness over acquisition of more material possessions. And when high tech global production techniques levels the cost of everything from a can of beans to an airplane ticket, what makes for the 'magic experience' version of what you’re good at, that customers are willing to pay a premium for?
11. MIX & MATCH VALUE, PREMIUM
A long-standing trend – as great design has become available at great prices, and premium services can be imitated more quickly, we have access to all kinds of similar alternative products. The same customers can mix low cost and premium products and services – be it their clothes or their financial services providers. How might your product and service offering get the right value/quality mix for your customers?
12. RETURN TO CENTRE
There’s been a revival of urban convenience shopping (smaller supermarkets, design-led value variety stores like Tiger and Clas Ohlson). This goes hand in hand with online shopping and delivery/collection, that provides us with the long tail of niche products, without needing to go to an ever-bigger out of town store. There are early signs that the car-based economy of big box retail sheds might be beginning to end. Will these edge of town retail parks and shopping centres be converted to much-needed housing in heavily populated cities? Will high street banking of the future mean entrepreneurial money advice workshops rather than staff behind counters?
13. VIRTUAL REALITY 3D RETURNS
Darling of the 1990s virtual reality is back, with new innovations from brands like Samsung, and this time the tech is delivering on the promise. Alongside 3D printing, are these technologies about to revolutionise how we learn and solve problems – giving us a safe environment to practice and the means to make bespoke products at low cost, from anywhere?
14. SMART & SLOW CITIES
Smartphones have already revolutionised navigation and discovery in urban centres. Now, connected vehicles and smart traffic management are making better and safer use of limited space and energy resources. Widespread high speed networks are connecting up citizens and decision-makers in new ways too. As well as smart tech, ‘slower’ cities could also tackle health challenges like growing obesity, by slowing traffic and making way for design that nudges us to walk and cycle – keeping us fitter, lowering health costs, congestion and pollution.
15. PREDICTIVE HEALTH & FITNESS
As wearable fitness trackers have become mainstream, we’ve learned more about how active we are. But so far, the appeal has remained with early adopters and those already focused on their health. Next generation devices and service experiences will be designed to nudge our behaviour more effectively towards our goals – weight loss, reduced sugar or watching out for warning signs with serious conditions. People can take control and reduce the resource impact on health care systems. How could you help your customers to take control of their risks in a positive, enjoyable way?
16. SOCIAL CITIZEN
Social media have revolutionised our interactions with business brands. Citizens have been able to influence governments. But mass participation in public decision-making has yet to fully take hold, despite us having the technology. We can share our opinions, we can sign a petition, but are people able to use these media to get close enough to the power to truly influence? How might businesses harness the new means to mobilise the crowd?
17. THE GIG ECONOMY
Working life is increasingly flexible and more project based than ever – in advanced economies the office knowledge worker typically has the means to work anywhere, at least some of the time. Meanwhile, self-employment is on the rise and the line between office and coffee shop (or pub), between home and work, is increasingly blurred. Documents, banking, project management accounts, contacts are already in the cloud with the likes of Trello, Xero and Dropbox. What other new product and services does the freelance 'gig economy' worker need?
18. MINDFULNESS & MEASURING HAPPINESS
As we’re bombarded with the constant distraction of communication and always on information and entertainment, we’re beginning to rediscover then need to switch off and slow down. Recognising that constant stimulation and being always-on places stresses on us that we’ve yet to understand, is a focus on mental health and productivity, work-life balance going mainstream? Are more hours the answer to keeping up, or a route to unhappiness and ever-decreasing returns? How can business take away every day stresses and help us take time back?
19. THE CROWD ECONOMY
Crowdfunding and involving customers in co-creation of products and services continues to gain momentum. Whether a reaction against traditional investments, a way to put money into local community businesses, a send of belonging to a brand club, or just a way to try to influence the new products you want, the lines between customer and colleague are blurring for some businesses. This can raise customers' expectations of how much they can decide about the way brands work. How can we start incorporating customer-led design into the way we interact with consumers every day, not just when we're working on specific innovation or crowdsourcing projects?
20. NEW MONEY
Centred around my life ambitions not separate products and accounts, banking is beginning to move towards smarter tools for making our money work for us. Cashless payments and new spend intelligence apps are making our transactions quicker and our habits easier to understand. Blockchain technology and challenger banks are reinventing traditional business models. How might your brand help customers to enjoy understanding and using their money, rather than worrying about where it all goes?
21. ON DEMAND LEARNING
The rise of startup culture has challenged the conventions of business and skills education. With 'how to...' almost anything available as online video and digital training courses, and the rise of informal training for the new economy from people like General Assembly and Guardian Masterclasses, how might this spread to more consumers? How could you brand share it's expertise using new real world and digital experiences?