Consumers have moved from experience to documentation but have never had so much technology at their fingertips, was the general theme relayed at the Moving Minds summit at Kinetic.
Speakers from TMR&C, Kinetic, Contagious and Pavegen all seemed to have the same opinion that brands have to embrace the experiential for users to pay attention.
The summit was devised by Kinetic to explore why the whole world has become an infinite communication space, tailored to individuals’ immediate needs. From the streets we walk on to the clothing we wear, where are the opportunities.
Tamara Sword, a director of TMR&C and one of The Drum’s Mobile 50, pointed out that narcissism was at the root of most user behaviour. “We’re not engaging with brands,” she said. “We’re engaging with each other. Smartphones have given us I can edit my videos; my photographs, optimise my birthday celebrations. People are becoming brands. When you look at people in situations, they’re documenting not experiencing.”
To illustrate her point, Sword showed a video of people enjoying everyday events such as lunch with friends, birthdays and travelling but each situ shot had a smartphone involved with someone taking a ‘selfie’ or videoing the event.
Sword also cited the example of Heineken, which created a stunt in Milan to show how interactivity through product design could bring people together. By getting people together in a nightclub and giving them specially created interactive bottles of its product, it found that people were united by the vibrations of music which was replicated through the bottle and stopped interacting with their smartphones.
Narcissism was also a key theme. Sword touched on the fact that user behaviour is changing around mobiles. “It’s becoming much more extreme narcissism,” she said. “They gave Google Glass to the wrong people, who used it in the wrong way, which why you suddenly find that everyone is a ‘glasshole’. My fundamental issue is that Glass won’t be successful is because it’s not narcissistic enough. You can’t take a ‘selfie’ with Glass. And a selfie is your logo. That’s why people do it.”
Businesses also need to change attitude. Roshan Singh, head of digital innovation at Kinetic, said that businesses “need to think like start-ups do, and emulate them”.
Singh continued: “Most of the innovations that we are seeing we don’t think of as innovations,” he said. “They’re thought of as ‘normal’ because they integrate seamlessly into our lives. We use these products [Facebook, Twitter, ASOS, Whats App, Skype] day in day out. We find value in them. They’ve thought about the consumer rather than themselves. Rather than traditionally, marketing creating a need, these companies have looked at what is actually needed. The way they’ve done that is looking at utility and value. Once you have utility and value, you have loyalty.”
Singh also warned against starting with a desire to use a certain technology. “Steve Jobs [founder of Apple], once said you need to start with customer experience and work back,” he said. “You can’t start with technology. You start with why, how and then end with what. Don’t lose sight of the ‘why are we doing this’.”
Simplicity was also key. “With Whats App,” Singh said. “They reiterated the SMS features that they identified their users wanted. They didn’t add anything extra, which is why it’s such a success. Don’t lose sight of ‘why’.”
An interesting topic diversion was the founder of Pavegen, a company which creates sustainable energy by people’s footsteps. Laurence Kemball-Cook, founded the company, after being challenged as an engineer at a power company where he was asked to create a streetlight which was powered by solar or powered by wind. “I couldn’t do that,” he said. “So I left there with my head held in shame. But I couldn’t stop thinking about that problem of creating something that was powered by us. So I built a prototype.”
Pavegen creates intelligent paving slabs that convert the kinetic energy created by footsteps into actual power. Although the technology offers little in the way of data from its users, it will prove invaluable as the world seeks sustainable energy sources. One opportunity it offers is for companies to utilise the data about maximum traffic to power intelligent ad sites, meaning brands can ensure that their ads are seen by the optimum amount of audience.
These technological advances mean that consumers are no longer observers, they are manufacturers. “We have arrived in a ‘maker revolution,” said TMR&C’s Sword. “We live in a world of raspberry pi’s and arduinos; where drones are available to buy at Tesco. Our new currency is data, but value exchange is the key.”