The successful brands of the future will be those that can identify customer needs in the moment and respond to them with thoughtful, personalized solutions. It’s the trend of micro-moments and personalization – and it’s going to be huge.
What is this trend?
What do most of us do these days when we want to do, buy or know something? We grab our phones or tablets. These intention-rich moments — specific moments when a person picks up their device in search of information, to find a local business, to complete a task, or simply to buy something — are what Google calls “micro-moments.” . (This trend is also called “catch me in seconds.”) Basically, whatever we want at some point, we turn to our devices for instant solutions. And the brands that can provide instant solutions – whether it’s information, products or otherwise – are the ones that will thrive in the future.
According to Accenture (which refers to micro-moments as “momentary markets”), 85% of executives agree that real-time (or near real-time) delivery is the next big wave of competitive advantage. In other words, commercial success is no longer just about conquering markets; it’s about capturing moments. Essentially, this means businesses need to be there when those crucial, intention-rich moments happen – which, in turn, means being able to anticipate those moments using data and analytics. With that done, businesses need to come in handy in those crucial moments by quickly connecting customers with whatever they’re looking for.
That’s not all, however. In addition to attracting customers when they need something the most and meeting that need instantly, brands must also provide a personalized experience, such as personalized search results, recommendations, or personalized products.
The challenge, of course, is to achieve large-scale customization. The good news is that the technology exists to help you. Think about recommendation engines that can direct customers to the products and services they are most likely to want. Or smart analytics solutions that can turn valuable customer data into insights into what they really want. And from a manufacturing perspective, product configuration tools that allow customers to decide what they want in a product, combined with 3D printing technology, potentially allow companies to deliver custom products at large scale. With all of that in mind, I think the next big wave of customization will be mass customization.
Why is this trend important?
This matters because the average human attention span is now worse than that of a goldfish. Most of us are bombarded with content all the time, and there are never enough hours in the day. This means that when we are looking for something specific (information, product, etc.), we need quick solutions.
Additionally, in the age of Netflix recommendations and personalized playlists, we increasingly expect brands to introduce us to products and services unique to us. You could say we’re looking for a more meaningful connection with brands. We want to feel special. And we are (usually) willing to pay for that privilege. According to Deloitte, the majority of consumers are not only willing to pay a 20% premium for a personalized product or service, but they would also like to be actively involved in the process (for example, deciding how it should be personalized for them).
Ultimately, if your business fails to provide a prompt and thoughtful response and a personalized experience, customers will likely bounce elsewhere.
Companies following this trend
As you’d expect, with their masses of consumer data, big tech giants like Amazon, Facebook, and Google are way ahead of this trend. But let’s look at some examples you may not have heard of.
How much time do you really want to spend choosing a bottle of wine? If you’re like me, not so long. Sure, you want something delicious, and you might even have certain characteristics in mind (full-bodied, or dry, or good with fish…), but you probably don’t want to spend 20 minutes reading labels. wines. This is where the “digital sommelier” Vivino, the world’s largest wine e-commerce platform, comes into its own. With the Vivino app, you can simply scan a bottle of wine to see prices, reviews, and tasting notes — and most importantly, get personalized Netflix-style recommendations on whether you’re likely to enjoy the wine, based on your past purchases and preferences. This recommendation feature, called Match For You, is available once you’ve rated five wines on the app, and gets more accurate as you rate.
There has also been a huge increase in personalized skin care solutions. Take the example of curology. With the Curology app, you can upload a photo of your skin, get a personalized diagnosis on any skincare issues you want help with (wrinkles, discoloration, etc.), and be presented with the solution of ideal care. Curology achieves this through a combination of machine learning and human experts (dermatologists or licensed physicians who approve which curology products are suitable for which clients). Customers can also chat with their human experts for more advice.
Neutrogena is doing something similar through its Skin360 app, which analyzes skin pixels before identifying a unique treatment formula – and that’s cleverly combined with Neutrogena’s MaskiD, a 3D-printed face mask that’s personalized to the shape of the customer’s face.
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