Consumer 4.0: Is your business ready for this new generation of customers?
Consumer 4.0 is the result of the resources they have. This profile has quite specific characteristics based on a high level of demand and easy access to information.
Nowadays, it’s not enough to simply sell an interesting product. It’s essential to engage consumers by using the right means and developing the right platforms to attract them.
The question is: is your company ready for all this?
In this post, we will discuss:
- What are the stages of consumer evolution?
- What is consumer 4.0?
- How can your company adapt to consumer 4.0?
- How to create new opportunities in this scenario?
What are the stages of consumer evolution?
Over the years, marketing has always helped companies to position themselves in the market.
Then, marketers could capture the public’s attention, promote their products, their proposals, and see their own business strategies.
Marketing has always been crucial to companies. And it also has been affected by the changing culture and available resources.
In each stage of this evolution, marketing was carried out differently because of the distinct behaviors, habits, and demands of society. Also, public opinion had undergone many significant changes over time.
All this impacted not only the way of doing business but also the way of doing marketing. This generated a natural evolutionary cycle.
When we talk about consumer 4.0, it’s not hard to understand that we live in the era of marketing 4.0. To understand the current context, we need to go back in time.
To do so, let’s consider consumer evolution over the years, starting from its first version.
In the first era of marketing, the consumer wasn’t even aware of what a brand was. To them, it didn’t matter what the product’s added value was, but rather what that product could offer as a solution.
The focus was the end, not the means. For instance, if a company sold cars, consumer 1.0 would be more interested in knowing the product’s technical specifications.
This pragmatism is a consequence of little access to information, as well as the simplicity of society’s traditional lifestyle and its demands at that time.
There were few differences among consumer groups, so brands didn’t have to worry about segmentation. Thus, consumer 1.0 wanted a product, and that was their only relationship with companies.
Consumer 2.0 is marked by a period of increased competition among companies. With broader markets and more competitors, the public started to have options.
It brought a question: if there are two or more companies that sell the same product, which of them to choose? This changed consumption.
If there are more alternatives in the market, the consumer also has a better chance of selecting a favorite brand. Then, the consumer becomes more demanding and reacts according to the market’s behavior.
Thus, marketing 2.0 created the concepts of brand and positioning. To meet the public’s needs, it was necessary to show why your product was better than your competitor’s.
Consumer 2.0 was already being seen with these characteristics. Companies started to segment these consumers to meet their needs. After all, they were becoming increasingly demanding.
To communicate with them, it became necessary for companies to address their consumers’ problems and show how their products or services would solve them. People were open to this persuasion.
More recently and akin to what we witness today, consumer 3.0 has shown higher demands.
So, the simple segmentation by demand was beginning to feel like an obligation. Only then, brands felt the need to win the public on a deeper level.
With so many alternatives to choose from, consumer 3.0 began to feel the need to be included. They wanted a sense of belonging.
With that, those people became more open to positioning campaigns, by which brands were showing a stronger personality.
Naturally, such characteristics should be aligned with consumers’ thoughts.
After all, society demands became important and started to shape the marketing, proving the strength of the consumer 3.0.
This concept is new and doesn’t differ much from what we see today.
This type of public is quite demanding, wants a more intimate relationship with the brand, and feels understood when seeing a company positioning itself.
Consumer 3.0 seeks such empathy and the feeling of belonging and being understood. They are no longer just buyers but a part of the whole process.
What is consumer 4.0?
Consumer 4.0 is the evolution of the 3.0 version. But there is a fundamental element that changes everything: technology.
This more segmented approach, considering the public and their social demands, proceeds normally. However, the modern consumer has broad and constant access to technology.
The digital transformation era brought significant changes to society and, naturally, impacted consumption.
Besides requiring personality, similarity on values, and alignment of thought, the consumer 4.0 demands a more digitized communication and relationship.
Today, social media have a great impact on life in society, and consumption reflects that. More than keeping a profile on social networks, companies need to act properly.
It’s not enough to have exposure, advertise, and show products or services. It’s essential to be present on networks and the web as a whole.
Customer service, for example, is one of the most important factors for consumer 4.0. They want to communicate through digital channels according to their daily habits. If they use the internet for everything, they also want to be served there.
Broad access to information
Another big impact of the digital age is broad access to information. Knowledge is power, and this is the feeling which the consumer 4.0 nurtures on the purchase decision stage.
Before searching for a service or product, consumers can do wide research on a particular brand on the web. The feedback is extensive and provided by the public itself.
A better-informed consumer is more empowered to choose than ever before. So, besides positioning themselves on the web, brands need to be ready to deal with consumer reviews.
People want to know the company’s history and its behavior before consumers. This can either generate a positive conversion or a rejection.
The importance of consumer experience
The level of consumer 4.0 demands has increased so much that the product and service are no longer the exclusive focus of the business relationship.
Today, the full consumer experience has great value, being capable of retaining or backing off a consumer once and for all.
Therefore, it’s not enough to simply offer your product. The consumer needs to be involved in a much more deep and comprehensive process.
The society has enough information to know where to buy products, which of them are more suitable, with the highest added value, and the most cost-effective. In such a competitive market, companies want to stand out.
The increase in information and the variety of companies resulted in a more demanding consumer. They want a positive cycle, from the research to the purchase.
Within this concept of experience, we can highlight some factors that attract consumer 4.0, such as:
- innovative advertising;
- values alignment between public and brand;
- humanized customer service through various channels;
- the proximity of the company, which treats the consumer as part of the business;
- retail and online integration.
Finally, you should know: specialists say that another type of prospect is coming, the consumer 5.0. To react, they want their five senses to be stimulated.
Also called Third Generation Neo Consumer, this new player will be influenced by interactive digital TV and immersive reality. Such technology will enable the replication of the human senses in simulated spaces.
Immersive reality has been pointed out as a great trend of audiovisual attraction in the coming years and should influence the sector with great force.
How can your company adapt to consumer 4.0?
The great challenge of companies is to deliver products and services to consumer 4.0.
With so many demands, insecurity may appear, but there is no secret.
Today’s public has very specific demands and needs to keep proximity to brands. With solid strategies, it’s possible to achieve good results. Learn how to do this!
Get closer to the audience
The consumer seeks greater participation in the company. They don’t just want to consume, but to have the power of influence.
They want to be heard and have their desires turned into products and services — the greater this possibility, the greater the engagement.
This may be done by using social networks, showing the company daily life, or campaigns that request some action from the public. This leads to the desired engagement.
Offer an outstanding service
For a long time, consumer service was the weak point of many companies. Today, it’s impossible to survive in such a competitive market without outstanding service.
This means humanization, multiple contact channels, security, and — mainly — solutions!
If the consumer invests capital, they want their demands to be met. Also, they want to see that the brand cares about post-purchase. This is fundamental to build loyalty.
Offer added value (show how good it is to have that product)
The added value of a product has never been so important as today. People look for more than an object or service: they want everything that comes with it.
The consumer positions themselves according to what they consume. It makes them belong to some group.
One great example is Apple, a gigantic IT company, and one of the world’s largest companies. Even with so many solid competitors, its products are among the most desired.
Offer your solution through different channels
The advancement of the digital environment brought more convenience to consumer 4.0, and they value this.
The purchasing is just the final stage of the business relationship, but the experience should end perfectly.
Therefore, the easier this stage, the better!
Companies must offer their products in e-commerce, replicate the offer on social networks, and use email marketing. This speeds up the process and makes it easier.
Attract through Inbound Marketing
Consumer 4.0 consumes a lot of content on the internet, from videos to blog posts. Much of it comes from companies strategically attracting consumers.
This concept of audience capturing is the basis of Inbound Marketing, which attracts the public through a value offer.
When working in this capture, companies find the consumer 4.0, offering them outstanding content. Besides having a qualified audience, the company meets their demands.
Keep a broad presence on social media
Being present on social networks is necessary for today’s companies. The consumer is there, where they can learn more about the brands.
If your company isn’t where the public searches, it’s failing and may cease to be relevant.
More important than the presence is using the appropriate platforms.
For example, a law firm may not have to care about gaining followers on Instagram, unlike a fashion retailer.
The key is to know your buyer persona well and to identify the channels they are present.
Interact with the audience
Consumer 4.0 loves to interact with their favorite brands! That creates a feeling of something more than just a purchase-centered relationship.
The customer feels important and is sure that their opinion impacts the company’s decisions. For brands, such proximity is crucial.
Engagement is essential in marketing strategies. As an indicator, it shows how engaged your audience is on social networks.
The concept of consumer 4.0 is of great importance. Therefore, brands and marketers must understand it. Only then will it be possible to give the public what they expect.
How to create new opportunities in this scenario?
If, on the one hand, consumers are increasingly selective; on the other hand, agencies have many more options to find new audiences. So, identify the new audience and elaborate strategies to meet their demands.
In the past, the mechanism behind marketing was to stimulate impulse buying. But now, it’s crucial to find out these buyers’ desires.
The advertising industry has to make the necessary adaptations to achieve this. Advertisers need to understand that, besides understanding the new circumstance, it’s essential to be part of it.
Thus, you will be able to establish a quality dialogue and obtain the desired engagement.
The niche market is formed by segments with specific desires and habits. Usually, these demands are not yet well met.
This means that there is still much more room for new products and services than it looks. So think: which is the market with the most growth potential?
Some examples of what to do
Let’s see some examples of initiatives that worked in this new era. One of them is the revolutionary “Subservient Chicken” campaign, made for Burger King in 2005.
The fast-food chain created the webcam that bore that name. Through it, users could give orders in real-time to the character, an obedient chicken. The campaign became a real phenomenon and was a milestone in interactive advertising.
The company had another standing out initiative in the digital world, in 2013, in Norway.
The commercial action offered, on the store’s fan page, free tickets for a Big Mac, the sandwich of its main competitor.
What seemed crazy at first glance turned out to be a masterstroke. For Burger King, those who accepted the McDonald’s snack would be permanently banned from their page.
The fan page, which had 38,000 fans, lost 30,000, falling to just 8,000 followers. Still, the tactic was considered a success.
After all, this filtering enabled a dialogue of much more quality with the remaining group — the most loyal — which increased the power of engagement five times.
The cosmetics producer Dove created “Dove Evolution” in 2007.
It was a hit video that featured an ordinary-look girl who quickly turned into a stunning top model.
Marketing efforts encouraged mothers to get involved with “Dove Self-Esteem” and participate in workshops on beauty and self-esteem. As a result, the campaign reached over 5 million views on YouTube.
Fiat, in 2009, created the advertising initiative “EcoDrive“. It was based on principles of environmental responsibility and conscious consumption.
Consumers would download an application onto their smartphones and plug a flash drive into their vehicles.
With this, users were able to analyze data such as acceleration, deceleration, mileage, and carbon emission levels.
Based on these metrics, they created explanatory videos on bad habits of drivers, as well as guidelines on how to drive privileging the ecology. It was an initiative of great repercussions.
All this has to be explained patiently to advertisers, even because, after winning a prospect — and turning them into a lead — there will still be a lot of work ahead. After all, it will be necessary to invest in nurturing them.
In short, some important values are:
- efficiency: quality in all areas, which includes agility in presenting solutions and effective time management;
- environmental responsibility: ecologically sustainable manufacturing of products;
- technology: monitoring of main social networks, investment in apps, and responsive websites;
- happiness: bring back special moments and stimulate the rediscovery of having fun by consuming;
- transparency: companies have to be honest and clear in their relationships;
- health: customers want to be healthy with not much effort;
- individualization: satisfy the urgent demands of individuals;
- be yourself: be authentic and simple.
Understanding and satisfying consumer 4.0 will be the main challenge for advertising businesses from now on. Individualized approaches, engagement stimulus, and quality content are the key components of this process.
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