What lessons has the consumer taught us in the last year?

Category: Trends Review 2019, consumers, research, trends

Trends Review 2019
The real challenge for organizations does not lie in technology, processes, culture or data. The real and ultimate challenge is to be relevant to the consumer

Over the past several years, we have witnessed exciting and surprising changes in the relationship that people establish with brands. This relationship is being restructured in the search for new ways of establishing links; for new solutions. After more than 160 projects in various categories (banking, insurance, automotive, consumer goods, energy...) over the past year, resulting in more than 150,000 interviews, 200 discussion groups and 600 in-depth interviews, we at The Cocktail Analysis have extracted 9 learnings about the consumer:

1. The end of consensus: if there was ever a recent time where it seemed like there was a certain consensus in terms of values, last year did away with that perception. Coexistence, territorial issues, immigration…and, particularly, gender equality are hotly debated. And brands are in the midst of this: how are they to position themselves during this breach of consensus and polarization of identity and values?

2. The paradox of regulation: 2018 was a year where regulatory framework and consumer dynamics stood face to face. In the midst of proposals put forth by organizations, along with consumer demands and desires, a third player of discord has emerged: the public sector. Being customer-centric means believing in benefitting society when there’s social conflict and where the public sector has to intervene.

3. Open mobility: who isn’t experiencing the mobile revolution directly for themselves? We’re moving towards a mobile experience (especially in in large cities) that’s more flexible and open; where consumers seek intermodal solutions that provide an enriched, multicolored, different experience.

4. I don’t want to be your customer anymore: the term “customer” is outdated: the consumer demands and builds new relationship models with brands. More open, less strict and demanding; more horizontal. Let me easily come and go as I please.

5. Plastic brands: everything that has to do with plastic has negative connotations for consumers. Eliminating plastic from your brand doesn’t only imply talking about greater environmental awareness (the tangible). Being plastic-free means moving away from the negative attributes invoked by plastic (the intangible): artificiality, dullness, an obstacle to the senses…

6. Restructured aspiration: younger generations flee from stereotypes and that which is clonelike. Their new aspiration is to create their own unique identity. Don’t give me a perfect, well-structured model of who I should be. Let me build my original, different, imperfect identity.

7. A new digital consciousness is born:  the consumer maintains a relationship with digital products and services tied to devices and based on what’s analogue: both in form and in function. 2019 represents the digital dawn. New forms of interaction emerging from the market are going to speed up digital awareness.

8. The data market: uncertainty in the exchange. We as consumers are assimilating the use of personal data among the various players with whom we interact, and we still don’t understand the relationship model. Users feel that they’re not simply providing their data, but much more than that: they’re providing access to themselves and their privacy.

9. Smart influencing: machine nudging. This encompasses influencing consumers’ final conduct by combining behavioral information, input of emotions and behavioral design tools (behavioral technology). This is the key to unlocking any brand’s fantasy: not only satisfying specific needs, but also being where they originate. Don't be in the last mile when you can be in the first.


But we're not stopping here. We have conducted the exercise of building and identifying the opportunities that arise from the previous 9 learnings:

1. Down with commitment: as consumers, we are learning to live with very low levels of responsibility and attachment, so brands must design new relationship and service frameworks for these new types of "customers" with fleeting, dynamic and changing needs... and with specific, limited brand relationships.

2. Your brand as a toolkit: consumers must be able to find a tool and inspiration for building their original identity upon each brand attribute and content item. Allow them to do so and make it easy for them to put together their identity puzzle.

3. Without consensus, where am I? Today's values are becoming polarizing. Defending an idea or a value means to accumulate haters, adversaries. However, taking a stand is rewarded and it’s differentiating.

4. The office as a last resort:  the value proposition of your brand must be in line with public opinion. Being a customer-centric means being prepared for when confrontation arises in society.

5. Always, always: the feeling of control. I want to feel that I’m the one choosing; that I build the best for myself. The relationship with the consumer should provide the subjective feeling of choice and control.

6. Between what’s alarming and what’s utopian: the algorithm. Find and make yourself present in the intimate space where need can lead to behavior.

7. It's no longer mobile first, it's cognitive first: the consumer will incorporate a "new digital understanding" in which the design of services and products will not be tied to the device.

8. Managing privacy as a differential brand attribute: consumers assume that they have to give up their privacy, but what if brands built the service from exactly the opposite perspective? Brands that build their proposition on respect for data privacy.

9. #TheHumanChallenge: the real challenge for organizations does not lie in technology, processes, culture or data. The real and ultimate challenge is to be relevant to the consumer. Understanding the complexity of the human being in order to be relevant.

You can access the complete document, with several examples of studies, advertising campaigns, brands and products that exemplify these learnings, here: