As consumers increasingly shop and buy in random micro-moments – connect, disconnect, reconnect, repeat – brands need to stand out more than ever.
At Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019, I’ll be absorbing all of the tech that is coming our way and sharing my thoughts on the challenge of winning consumers who increasingly shop and buy in random micro-moments. One of my goals is to reframe the conversation about how to attract and keep ‘promiscuous’ consumers who have access to pretty much everything in the palm of their hand.
I think consumer companies could address this challenge more effectively, and more actively seize its opportunities, if we thought about the micro-moment less as a brief slice of time and more as many, many instances integrated into daily life where decision moments are underpinned by AI.
Making all sorts of daily decisions (including what we buy) with the aid of technology is becoming a way of life that is disrupting most of the assumptions that consumer-facing companies are built around.
Micro-moments will reshape our lives
Since mobile overtook desktop as the main technology for search, brands have had to rethink. How do you connect with consumers who don’t just have a shorter attention span, but also a narrower engagement span? How do you introduce something new to someone who isn’t really paying much attention?
By this I mean, when consumers are interacting with a brand via mobile, they are almost always doing something else at the same time – from waiting in line, to crossing the street (yikes!), to listening to music. Similarly, how do you hold the attention of someone who engages for a few minutes or even seconds online, goes to the gym or out for lunch, and then re-engages with your brand or a competitive brand a few hours later?
Currently, I think it’s the mobile and one-off nature of the micro-moment that is getting the most attention. But looking to the future, the micro-momentary nature of engagement won’t just affect some of our daily experience, it will fundamentally reshape how we go about living our daily lives.
In fact, the next wave of technological disruption could well move the challenge beyond ‘how do we engage consumers in an one-off micro-moment?’ to something quite different and more fluid and always 'on'.
AI companions as gatekeepers
The kind of consumers we’ve been modeling in our FutureConsumer.Now program are not going to consciously engage in many purchase decisions they make in the future – or not to any great depth. For a lot of what consumers want, AI will identify needs, assess all the available options or solutions, and filter these options down to present just two or three curated choices.
For brands in this scenario, it isn’t only a problem of how to win the consumer across many varied micro-moments on any given day, but it is also the question of how to win consistently with their AI companion. How does a brand do that in every micro-moment because brands that are a millisecond behind the pace of AI curation are likely not to be relevant.
Let’s try a different question
To get in front of the consumer, brands must be able to shape demand by continually adapting what they offer, when they offer it and at what price for each consumer, in each micro-moment.
Anything that slows or complicates that process is unwanted friction, which the consumer, or the consumer’s AI companion, just won’t accept. Business models designed for more prosaic, static consumer engagement will fail. And while I haven’t even begun to address the business issues that micro-moments raise concerning consumer expectations of delivery, customer service, product co-design and so on, challenges are looming there too.
Does this mean today’s conversation about the mobile micro-moment is irrelevant? Not at all. Mobile is where brands need to win now, and it’s where they will learn how to win tomorrow when the question moves from ‘how do we win not only the consumer in the micro-moment but also the consumer’s trusted companion in that moment?’
How do you get to next before next gets to you? Join EY to discuss how disruptive technologies will help businesses ride the next wave of future industry at MWC Barcelona 2019 – from 25 – 28 February. Join the debate using #NextWave, #BetterQuestions and #MWC19.