Consumer Engagement Trends For 2017: The Phigital Era
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

Consumer Engagement Trends For 2017: The Phigital Era

Today’s consumers have almost become consumers of experiences more than products.

LLORENTE & CUENCA

Consumer Engagement Trends For 2017: The Phigital Era

There is a true revolution in the communication and the relationship between consumers and brands in the marketing field. Especially in the working perspective: the importance of awareness of territory, capacity for immediacy and an approach on communities rather than large audiences.

At this point, the evolution of the conversation and storytelling cores set the trends that we have identified as the most important and they represent the challenge we will face in the upcoming twelve months.

The use of the storytelling technique -and specifically of transmedia storytelling- must turn into terms of both level of stories told compared to story doing, and the people who build these stories and how they do it have to evolve too (Brand Youtubers, general fandom and a more transmedia view of the Brand PR).

All of this should be pictured in a saturated environment. There are several trends in which the consumer will appreciate a return to brand-related experiences with a strong physical component, but now combined with the digital media. Those compose the phigital era.

One example of a great use of the storytelling technique is the company Chipotle, which has therefore become one of the great fallen giants of storytelling. Brands have to start creating their stories beyond just telling them.

However, the key of the new way of communication is the transmedia brand pr. This is a question of constructing mutually beneficial relationships between brands and their consumers through communication.

It is a practice that clearly differs from advertising or marketing. There is no direct payment in the generation of that communication, relying on information, experiences and content of value to that final audience.

This way of communication demonstrates that the communication between the brands and their consumers is becoming increasingly sophisticated and multi-factorial. The old paradigms no longer stand. At least not under the same structure they were based until now.

In other words, we can say that the brand is experienced live and, in a world where immediacy is everything and “live the moment”, has become the mantra of communities. Live videos are fashionable and this trend will continue to increase, so companies must adapt to it.

While Twitter purchased Periscope to add value to the immediacy of its platform and Snapchat championed quick videos, Facebook did not want to be left behind. After acquiring Instagram, the social network par excellence has joined this new trend with the FacebookLive tool. This allows users to watch and broadcast live videos. Facebook also created Instagram Stories, a new function where users can send photographs that will expire after seconds, and also allows adding live videos.

In addition, being live will force brands to adopt an almost instantaneous commitment to their consumers, offering quick, effective and responsible accountability to the audiences. Live videos will promote immediacy and users will demand more transparency. Companies must develop a greater ability to react to the needs of each community.

At this point, platforms such as Youtube and Wikipedia have contributed democratizing the expansion of the current transmedia stories through the institutionalization of the participatory culture.

We have moved from the era of transmedia to deep media. Now it is also necessary to encourage fans to complete this story. This involves a loss of control but it is also the only opportunity to stand out in a saturated environment.

The communication between brands and consumers is evolving into a “one for one” communication and brands will have to speak to their audiences through platforms like Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger in an intimate and personalized manner rather than launching a general message that may get lost. The secret is the way they are used. The geolocation of the messaging apps will allow brands to send messages with offers or new products to specific groups depending on their geographic area or proximity to a store.

Thus, the challenge will be to find a way into this space where the audience already feels comfortable and where brands can speak with direct messages –personalised and relevant-.

Today’s consumers have almost become consumers of experiences more than products and these experiences, especially communication related ones, require the coexistence of digital and physical environments; the phigital experience. That’s the challenge of the new communication.

*Summary of the article by David G. Natal Consumer Engagement Director at LLORENTE & CUENCA Spain. Available at Developing Ideas.

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