Information used to be a scarce commodity which was sought and valued. With limited methods to distribute knowledge, those that possessed it remained in the minority. Those with the knowledge had the power.
We now live in a time where information is plentiful and the way it’s used is in a state of change; simply having information is not enough. It must be utilised.
Over the last 20 years, plenty has changed around how information is used. As consumers, we are moving from an age of information (a cataloging, hoarding mindset) towards an age of experience. No longer is the intent to list every detail of our lives; we now exist in disposable moments. As marketers, this changes everything about how audiences are engaged.
Snapchat was the first to do-away with permanent content and they engaged an entire generation - Gen Z, the first to be raised exclusively in the experience era. What drives this audience? These digital natives grew up in a time where content spill was at its peak. They don’t care if you’ve got more content, they care if you’ve got the best content - even if it does disappear. They’re also much more cynical than previous generations. Content is usually based on a promise, but an experience (in essence) is the truth.
The idea of giving audiences an ‘experience’ draws focus away from the permanence of basic content. It’s the duty of different industries to understand how they can use information about their customers to drive experiences that last. As a result, that brand experience is now an important factor for consumers. Having a great product is simply not enough anymore. Consumers are empowered to look elsewhere if they feel their needs are not met.
Let’s take the retail industry for instance. Information has fed the next level of brand experience to bring incredible value to consumers at key points in their purchase cycle. Macy’s used iBeacon technology to send push notifications to users with the latest information and offers, while also utilising omnichannel data to bring them information around products that they had previously expressed interest in. Not only is this service driving value, it’s also personalised. The experience occurred at the exact moment it was needed, and will only last as long as it’s required to.
The idea of a valuable experience doesn’t even need to be explicit, or pushed on to the consumer. Netflix take advantage of a wealth of user data to understand how best to cater their service. Looking at preferred genres and programmes is one thing, but associating viewing habits with further variables, such as time of day and day of the week, create experiences that are truly personalised and contextualised to that moment.
In a nutshell, the more information that is considered, the better the experience. In the current market, users expect brands to know exactly what they want.
It's clear that a focus on experience is the key to our future relationships with brands. Information has become such a by-product, that it ceases to drive value. Sure, content lasts forever, but how long do people care? The answer to that question gets shorter and shorter as time goes on.
So, what's the cure? Information still has its uses, but its best use is to drive meaningful experiences that matter to you. Bringing consumers closer to experiences is the key to driving true value. Bringing them personalised experiences is the key to the future.
Kulvin Kailey is a data planner at Hugo & Cat