4 trends you need to know about driving growth in 2017

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As companies begin to think more like their customers, and ideas spread across industries faster, it’s important to be aware that consumers are actively comparing and contrasting business performance when making a decision on where to spend their money. With today’s consumer now looking for control and convenience over their time, money and space companies will be challenged to react to market trends quickly and effectively. In this post, I’ve identified 4 areas that we see playing an important role in defining company strategy in 2017. This is based on findings of a white paper produced by White Space agency.

  1. New pricing and ownership models

 

Thanks to Spotify, Netflix and Zipcar who took this ownership model mainstream we are now able to purchase products that were expensive, or used infrequently on a need to want basis. Research has also shown that this of particular attraction to millennial consumers who have less space and money and can see the benefits to removing the burden of ownership. There is also a growing trend in subscription services that provide us with the basics, including; coffee, razor blades and underwear, which saves the consumer time and offers that all important convenience factor. Where it is possible to offer this kind of service companies will be able to maintain value to the customer, and nurture long-term relationships with individuals. Despite the expense of changing pricing models for an established company, I believe it’s worthwhile for companies looking to determine whether products should be marketed and sold as a service, or promote the value of ownership as identify.

 

  1. Energy Storage

 

Fully expect to see lots of changes in the area of renewable and energy storage this year. This shift comes as policy changes to the feed-in-tariff and a fall in the price of renewable energy below the level of oil and gas, contributing to the reduction in the installation of renewables throughout the UK. This being the case you may see those type of companies switch sales strategies and seek alternative revenue streams once Ofgem sets clear guidelines for ‘energy generation’ going forward. The reduction in price to energy storage has opened doors for businesses operating in this space to tackle the issue of whether energy storage units are appropriate for them, or if there is an opportunity to lease additional storage space to the National Grid to enable them to reduce peak demand.

 

  1. Customer Service Automation

 

The power of good customer service will give businesses the power to increase acquisition, retention and encourage brand loyalty. As mentioned earlier the high expectations of today’s consumer now demands an easy, effective and emotive service at their convenience. And with companies like Amazon and Uber leading the way on change, it’s not how well established you are, but how well you adopt new technologies that allow for easy and effective customer service. This means stripping back those long and complicated menu systems and replacing it with voice recognition software that can help people get where they need to go quicker.

Companies who can capitalise on this trend and look for data and ways to problem-solve in real-time, linking up different channels, through one seamless approach will reap great rewards.

 

  1. New Payment Methods

 

Don’t expect to see new technology go viral, but there is good reason to believe there will be improvements in the way payments are currently taken, and opportunities for gathering additional consumer rich data that will provide useful insight to companies looking to strengthen internal analytics functions, and be better prepared. It’s thought that this year will be one of rapid innovation, marked by increasingly sophisticated payment-based data and biometric payments.  For example, you can now confirm your identity by looking at your eyes through a camera on a mobile phone – a technology developed by ‘EyeVerify’ and already being used by early adopters such as Mastercard and Atom Bank. With these targeted payment technology options available, suppliers and retailers can now plan on how they will use the data collected from these streams to improve and add value to the customer experience and be different.

 

Conclusion
As the boundaries between different types of companies become blurred, and the consumer draws comparison from companies across sectors with keywords such as speed and convenience drawing their attention. It’s vital for the established companies including supermarkets, utilities providers and those in the financial sector to identify the trends and take action on market demands to avoid the risk of being left behind.

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The Billion Dollar Question?

To many, Facebook’s takeover of Instagram will be last week’s news, but today I’m using this story to highlight an after thought from this story that will hopefully add value to your business.

To give you some context to my inspired moment, I must take you to Facebook where my friend (distant from the world of marketing) innocently asked; “So all this chat about Instagram being bought by Facebook for wan billion or however much…What does this actually mean? What changes?” – That’s when I had my moment of inspiration, right there, and then.

It suddenly dawned on me how easy it is to work in marketing, and business and still miss communicating our point to the consumer. My friend caught wind of the billion dollar sale, but he failed to understand the impact this sale would have on him – as the end-user. Should he bare the responsibility for this, or should we – the marketer, writer, and communicator take responsibility and communicate our news in a way that is effective, and relevant to those that matter.

The answer is, none right now. Mark Zuckerberg released a statement highlighting the reasons behind the decision, and their intent is to ‘try’ to continue building and growing Instagram independently.

The fact of the matter is that this sale came at a very interesting time. Facebook are positioning themselves to launch into the stock market next month, and Instagram has just broken record to be one of the biggest app releases on the Google play platform, in its history.

In March, the app hit 1 million users in less than 24 hours of its Android Launch.

Selling at this moment in time may seem perfect for many, but disconcerting to many of its users.

Perhaps, if we keep this in mind when we write our tech savvy articles, content, and informational material we wouldn’t cause so much of a scare to users who aren’t always interested in how much your company sold for, but instead more interested in how your sale will change the user experience?

The bottom line is that there is a danger to many media sharing, information platforms, and businesses that we are still so consumed with the structural changes happening in our culture and effecting every inch of our business that we are failing to have some form of clear communication with our end users – who are not tech savvy, but a faithful and dedicated user of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Don’t believe me then just take Facebook’s shift to Timeline. I lost count of the number of people lost and confused on the subject matter of Timeline. Questions like, what is it? How do I change it back? – Came flooding in their droves. As I continued to explain there was no going back, and the implications that Timeline could have on their profile privacy. Most users were shocked, and certainly unaware of the implications caused by the face-lift.

Of course Facebook informed marketers of the changes, but this didn’t filter through enough to the end-user, and that’s my point today. How well are we filtering information through to the end-user?

As effective as I believe social media marketing can be. It is meaningless if we don’t have well-informed users on the other side of each tool. We’d all do well to keep this in mind.