Musharaf Hai, Brand & Marketing Advisor at Khaadi, spoke at 021Disrupt 2020 about what, considering the drastic and near-permanent shift towards digitalization, should be the core values of brands moving forward, as well as the various ways in which they now need to engage with consumers and the growing need for the reimagination of brands in a digital world.
She began with an anecdote about a recent visit to a technology fair in Paris which was filled with entrepreneurs, startups, and, surprisingly, bots everywhere! After witnessing a bot apply perfect makeup from start to finish, primer to setting spray, Musharaf thought about Pakistan’s ecosystem and how it would benefit from bots such as these. On a different occupation, she witnessed the power of AI and machine learning at Zalando, an e-commerce platform that implements AI and machine learning for consumer mapping and segmentation down to a T.
It is no longer a debate whether we’re living in a fully digital age or not. Brands are now existing in an ecosystem that is dynamic and ever-changing, and as is always the case, human behavior is also quickly adapting to these changes.
Nowadays, digitalization is the pivot that is influencing human behavior and business choices.
With millions of new entrants in the e-commerce industry as both consumers and businesses, the unfortunate emergence of Covid-19 has allowed us to achieve a milestone in our digitalization efforts in mere weeks as opposed to years.
So what are the shifts that are influencing this new and evolving ecosystem?
The major, and most obvious, is the virus. The pandemic is not going to go away like the seasonal flu, nor is it going to stop growing. As it metastasizes over the months and years, we need to be very mindful and thoughtful about the kind of policies and safety measures we’re creating for the future of our economy and nation.
Another is climate change – a nice topic to discuss, but often not one that is sincerely followed through. But with this day and age, can brands really afford to not be sustainable and environmentally conscious of what they’re putting out into the world? Responsibility for our planet has to be a core value of current and future generations and, in turn, the brands they consume.
Inclusion is another important topic that needs to be carefully and systematically addressed at every level. Whether it’s race, color, or women, we need to be able to bring the voices of minorities into mainstream conversation in order to have a balanced and fair conversation at all.
While we are slightly behind in this, global interconnectedness is the way of the future. Technology and digitalization should know no race, gender or color, and we must do everything we can in order to alleviate this.
In the digital age of consumerism, where we are truly using the internet for all of our needs, the next important step for brands is to ask themselves 2 fundamental questions: what matters to your consumers right now, and what are their aspirations and needs?
According to recent studies, today’s consumer is looking for 3 things: personal safety, financial security, and the assured wellbeing of themselves and their families. They are people who are open to being vulnerable, they’re uncertain about the future, but they’re also responsible and highly environmentally conscious. They’re looking for a sleek and transparent supply chain, as well as customization and personalization, all of which lies at the heart of AI and machine learning.
Considering all the things above, what implications are there for the marketers of today for the digital world of tomorrow?
An important aspect to understand is that AI can detect patterns in human behavior much faster than and more precisely than we do: this means that it’s our job to ensure that we design better shopper journeys for our customers.
We can learn a lesson from Gen Z as well, in their steadfastness in demanding transparency throughout the supply chain. They want to know everything about the product they are buying, from its source to its environmental effects. How can we apply these demands to our industries?
Our manner of communication also needs to radically change. Consumers are no longer satisfied with quantity – instead, they demand curated quality content that is relevant to them. And with service platforms all becoming so interconnected, it’s becoming much easier to do things like cross-promotions and benefits, collaborations and convergence.
The 360 angle of the future, and even today, is fast becoming things like interactive storytelling, virtual reality, mobile-first content, live streaming, short term stories. Consumers want mindful and meaningful content that is going to help them grow, rather than mindless ads and large retail stores.
So, think of it like this: how do we reimagine the core of our brands?
By grounding the essence of our brands in the purpose to serve humanity. By going from glorified product excellence that we try to push in our consumers’ carts to ‘How is this contributing to humanity, the environment and social consciousness?
For the full talk, head on over to our YouTube Channel.