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Innovation, design & experience tech needed to meet consumer expectations in new normal: Report

Isobar study reveals insights from global CMOs of a permanently transformed approach to marketing

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Mumbai: It is widely accepted that Covid-19 has accelerated digitisation across every industry in every market. 2020 saw marketers double down on innovating their products and services specifically to pivot in response to Covid-19. 83 per cent of marketers agree that there can no longer be any disconnect between what a brand promises and what it delivers for its customers, communities, and employees, according to a new annual study by global creative experience agency Isobar, assessing the evolution of customer experience design.

The report ‘Isobar CX Survey 2021: The Rise of Connected Experience’ with insights from over 800 global CMO’s indicates clear agreement between CMOs globally of a permanently transformed approach to marketing post-covid. 86 per cent of marketers agree that every touchpoint can and should tell the brand story, from comms to commerce. Innovation, integration of the brand promise, and delightful interactions enhanced by technology were named as the top three key ingredients needed in the creation of brand experiences. 82 per cent of marketers revealed they are investing or have already invested in creativity and digital technologies to create brand differentiation. Research was conducted in August 2021 via online questionnaires completed by 800 CMOs and marketing directors in eight markets, including India, for this purpose.

Alternative sensorial brand experiences are on the rise with 86 per cent of marketers saying creating brand design systems for a multi-sensory world is increasingly important, and 36 per cent asking specifically for new craft skills designed for a multi-sensory world from their agency partner. In a first for the industry, Isobar has validated some of these assumptions with CMOs stating that creativity is critical to differentiation in this digital world, with the boundaries of content, commerce, and culture blurring irrevocably.

The results reveal a ‘new normal’ for marketers, with the overwhelming majority in agreement that innovation, design, and experience technologies are needed to meet consumer expectations post-covid. The results overwhelmingly show an increase in creating new sensorial experiences, delivered through experience technologies and demanding a new set of craft skills that are imperative to creating differentiation.

Touch-free technologies, gestural technologies, voice interfaces, and virtual brand properties including avatars, idols, products experiences, and configurators are all being increasingly adopted. This is an extension of the findings of the report from 2020 that saw significant marketer adoption of ‘experience technologies’ such as voice, AR, and IoT alongside a significant increase in the value CMOs placed on ideas and innovation in shaping CX strategy. 

“What stands out is that experience has become an even bigger focus for how consumers are making choices around the brands they invite into their lives. The connected future has arrived—innovation and new experience technologies are now critical in creating differentiation and growth. But it’s a connected experience - creativity that crosses touchpoints, senses, and communities, and that is driving this future. This survey is a call to arms for everyone in the industry to step up or be lost in a sea of sameness,” said dentsu head of innovation and design and Isobar managing partner Sven Huberts.

Authored by Isobar’s global teams of creative and innovation experts, the report aims to offer insight into how the marketing industry is responding to the changing needs of brands today and to provide inspiration and tools to help the creation of delightful and differentiated experiences of tomorrow.

“The term ‘Experience’ has changed forever. In a post-pandemic world, for a brand to lead from a customer-centric position, experiences can no longer afford to be one-dimensional. The findings of the survey published in ‘The Rise Of Connected Experience’ report, will give readers a more comprehensive view of a customer’s journey and deep insights into what is driving customer experience,” added dentsu Creative India CEO Amit Wadhwa.

The report describes the fundamental changes to the way brands are increasingly being built and uses global case studies from Isobar’s client partners including KFC, Philips, Beats, and Volkswagen to illustrate how marketers are shifting strategy. Some of the key changes are that there can no longer be any disconnect between what a brand promises and what customer experiences, and virtual experiences will become as real, human, and valuable as offline experiences. It also summarised that the boundaries between content and commerce, shopping, and storytelling will be blurred beyond recognition. The report also predicts that as digital experiences are called on to build distinctive brand encounters, a new skill set will be needed at the intersection of craft and innovation.

“The pandemic upended a marketer’s playbook, challenging leaders to position themselves at the forefront of the longer-term shifts in consumer behaviour that result from disruption. However, even at this time of flux, it’s possible to regain a strong foothold and find familiarity by keeping a real-time pulse on evolving customer preferences. Customers are more trusting of what technology can do and they are seeking new experiences that line up with their renewed way of life. I believe the Isobar CX Survey is the ideal destination to source for insights on driving growth in a post-Covid world,” Isobar India group CEO Heeru Dingra commented. 

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