What Infants Can Teach Us About the Future of Marketing

By Naira Musallam

A gathering among friends is taking place at someone’s home. The adults are catching up over food and drinks, while their infants, aged 2-4 years old, are watching television in the living room. Suddenly, one of the children starts crying and gesturing to her mum that something has gone wrong with her show. Her mother rushes to fix the seemingly technological hiccup. However, it turns out nothing is wrong, at least from the eyes of the older generation, it was simply a commercial break. The mother assures her child that nothing has gone wrong, and that her favorite show will be back momentarily. It turns out it is the first time the child has been introduced to cable TV. The movies and streaming shows she has consumed during her entire, albeit short, life thus far weren’t broken up by these segments of pushing products to mass audiences.

This is a jaw dropping realization of how the upcoming generation is growing up and viewing the surrounding world. This scenario has sweeping ramifications for marketing services professionals.

The behaviors and expectations of these children point to the future and give a strong signal to professionals that there is a need to adapt. Consumers of all ages have changed. How and where we engage with brands has evolved. Our expectations as consumers have developed faster than brands can keep up.

Waiting an entire week for the next episode to come out? Think again.

The lesson here? Don’t interrupt me when I’m not expecting it or don’t want it. Commercials and advertisements, if presented at the wrong time, will be associated with interruption.

While many of us willingly accepted those moments of interruptions pre-streaming TV world, times  are changing. Younger generations are growing up with different expectations. We are living in an “interest economy”, where consumers are interested to view only what they want, when they want. They are glued to the activities and the content that interest them.

Unless your engagement with them is curated to their specific passions and interests, your marketing campaigns will be considerably watered down and maybe doomed to fail. Brands must understand how each subset of consumers view the world in order to adapt their messaging.

It’s possible to target different groups of consumers with the same product or service if you know how each thinks, feels, and behaves. You need to know who they are, what they do, and why they do what they do.

What now?

Get to know them. For real though. Get to know who your consumers are: their loves, their hates, and what they don’t care for. Get to know their habits, styles, preferences, values, personalities and characters. Get to know them deeper than just their product satisfaction and NPS. Only when you know who they are, are you able to curate content, services, and products that are truly relevant.

You’ll never know until you go on an exploration journey with them, and ask them. So continue and conduct concept tests, brand perception and awareness studies, pre and post purchase feedback and satisfaction assessments. Even extracting sentiment from product reviews is a great step in the right direction. Additionally, put the effort to get to know why they are independently of your product. You’ll be surprised the extent to which factors such as habits, lifestyle, and personalities drive their consumer behavior and engagement with your products and services.

Timing is everything. Remember all those sales calls during dinner time growing up? It didn’t work either, at least it didn’t survive. Marketers need to invest in resources to understand the right time to engage. Timing is everything. If you want to get to know your consumers, then you also need to figure out the optimal time to contact them.

For some consumers it might be while they are experiencing your product. For others it might be after use. For some it might be right at the point of sale or engaging with your marketing chat bot 30 seconds after they visited your brand site. The point is, there’s a science to timing for optimal and meaningful engagement – reviewing channel metrics will help this.

Meet consumers on their terms. Understanding the entire consumer journey for each segment requires a relentless pursuit of understanding, analysis, and insights. Marketers need to understand and engage consumers where they are and be mindful of it while targeting, otherwise features such as mute and block get activated.

Understand where your specific customers tend to shop, on what devices, on-line vs. in-store, at home or at work.

For restaurants, dealing with apps like Yelp and Seamless, their customer engagement can be split between in-store service and at home consumption. And reviews are spread across another 2 or 3 websites. Does service and experience vary? What types of customers interact with you at different location and why?

In a world where consumers expect instant gratification the window for brands to impress and retain customers is decreasing. For better or worse this adds a added burden on brands and an increasing expectation of curation. To succeed, understand who, what, and more importantly why.  To succeed with your brand, you need to make it about them rather than about you. Only then you have the potential to win with your consumers and in the process get them obsessed with your products.

By Naira Musallam, Frontier 7