Discovering Digital: Act 1 – The Modern Consumer

“Begin with the end in mind”

When Stephen Covey published his famous book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, he introduced the world to a list of characteristics which he believed were held by those individuals in society who experience a high degree of success. The second habit he proposed was to always begin with the end in mind.

So carrying on from last weeks prologue; when it comes to digital communications, the final stage of any campaign is either getting the final branded product to, or successfully delivering a service to the consumer. Thus it is only fair that we begin our assessment of digital communications, its intended audience and the possibilities it presents us with, from the perspective of a modern day consumer. Firstly, we need to clarify what is meant by “Modern day” consumer.

Traditionally, a consumer is any individual that purchases a product or service for his/her own personal use. Implicit in this definition however, is the notion that this individual is aware of the fact that a specific brand of product has a certain level of supremacy over a competitor brand which provides the same product/service. This could come as a result of a brand producing an offering that is either made with better materials, or has very competitive pricing, or even something as simple as having a more appealing return policy on their product/service than that of their competitors.

The way that a traditional consumer finds out about these competitive advantages is generally through traditional mediums such as TV, print, or radio ad’s; alternatively, they could also have found out about a brands offering by means of word-of-mouth marketing from a brand rep or trusted friend or family member. As time went by, it became very apparent that the consumer had very little – if any – control over which marketing messages they were exposed to over the course of their day-to-day lives.

out vs in

Fast forward a few years and we find that things have changed considerably. The modern day consumer is a different breed of animal. Equipped with a plethora of technological gadgets and gizmos, these individuals have a lot more power at their fingertips to use as they see fit.

The digital world is constantly expanding and evolving as time marches on, everyday millions of different entities – brands and consumers alike – are utilizing this space to either communicate with, interact, or learn more about one another. This is where the balance of power gets shifted from the brands to allow the consumers more control and freedom to choose what is that they prefer.

Enter a concept called the Zero moment of truth (ZMOT), which illustrates the point in a modern consumers journey where they actively research a product of service that they can use to satisfy a specific need or want. These days the average [modern] consumer journey starts off with some sort of stimuli – be it internal or external – that creates a need in the mind of the consumer. In order to satisfy this need, the modern consumer will first explore the digital world by combing through ads and promotional material about brands that seek to eradicate those needs through the use of their products/services, this is the ZMOT. Once a conclusion has been established, the consumer will then take action and find a place – digital or not – where they can purchase the product/service in question, which is called the first moment of truth (or shelf). The second moment of truth (experience), and final step in the process is where the consumer will make use of the product, which in turn becomes the ZMOT for the next person with the same need.zmot

Now that we’ve seen how digital communications has altered the market place and its inner workings from the perspective of the consumers, it’s time to continue our quest through the digital realm so that we can observe it from an alternative frame of reference.

Next stop, how digital has affected the small-to-medium enterprises (SMME’s) within the market place.

See you there!

  • Akhona Mantashe

    So the goal posts have been moved from outbound marketing to inbound marketing, fair enough, but you have to admit that inbound marketing has become very outboundish with it’s unyielding barrage of ads “tailor made for me”, to the point where as soon as I see that little yellow scroll bar or a “click here to skip in 5sec” button I go blank like the gang until I can skip the uninvited interloper on my psyche no matter how potentially beneficial that ad may be. I trust I’m jumping ahead in the story by asking this but how does a brand recapture the former magic that was inbound marketing in this day and age of ad warfare?

  • jingo27

    Hey Akhona – I have to agree with you – but also to add another perspective; those ads that you are referring to are essentially mainstream “outbound” ads that are masquerading as inbound marketing. They are not truly adding value or giving you context rich and relevant information when and where you want it. They are still hijacking your field of view to “push” a message that you are not ready or willing to receive.

    Unfortunately this is always going to be the case where brands try various levels of subterfuge to try and maximise their potential returns.