By: Marilyn Weiss and Cindy Blackstock
When we launched SIVO Insights 10 years ago, consumer research looked very different from today. Smartphones were far from ubiquitous, with the first iPhone having launched just two years prior. And, social media was in its infancy – Instagram hadn’t even been created yet. All of that meant that back in 2009, brands largely relied on brick and mortar sales and traditional advertising to activate their consumers, with some online shopping thrown in for early adopters.
Since then, technology has permeated every aspect of our lives. SIVO Insights has worked hard to stay a step ahead, helping our clients navigate significant changes in how consumers interact with brands, and as a result, how consumer insights are gathered, analyzed and used. Here are some of the biggest shifts we’ve helped our clients navigate in the last 10 years:
Omnichannel is now the norm.
Consumers now expect brands to be available to them whenever, wherever – from researching an item on a mobile device, to picking it up on their way home from work, to having online products delivered to their doorstep (within a day or two!). Even brands that started online are recognizing the value of having a true omnichannel presence, with Amazon establishing physical locations via Whole Foods and Amazon Go stores. Meanwhile, Walmart and Target are investing $11 billion(1) and $7 billion(2) respectively to create better integration between their physical and online.
What does this mean for consumer research? Consumer insights are more complicated and nuanced than ever, because there are now so many touchpoints between a consumer and the brand, each with its own context. This also makes consumer insights more important than ever, because brands need to understand consumer needs, values and motivations before they can determine the best way to engage them across channels. If brands want to meet consumers where they’re at, they need a deep understanding of what consumers need in each channel.
Convenience is king.
Brands are blurring traditional lines in their quest to be hyper useful and convenient for time-strapped consumers, from Walgreens selling bananas alongside prescription refills, to Kohl’s sharing real estate with Planet Fitness to lure consumers to combine fitness with shopping. Forward-thinking brands in every industry are looking for ways to make themselves more convenient than ever.
What does this mean for research? The quest for convenience creates great opportunities to learn more about what consumers want and need, and for brands to partner in new ways to meet those needs. Ask questions that reveal deeper insights on the role convenience plays in people’s lives and how brands can improve convenience.
Millennials are pushing brands to deliver more, benefiting us all.
While millennials are often misunderstood, one thing is clear: they have upended stagnation in almost every industry, demanding more from the products and services they use. Whether it’s wanting to know that a brand is doing good in the world before they’ll buy from them, or boldly sharing their experiences with a company on social media, millennials bring increased expectations. Perhaps the most revolutionary disruption is how millennials have helped all of us separate the need to own something with the ability to experience it – from Airbnb in place of our own vacation home, to ride-sharing services like Lyft in place of our own car, to Spotify in place of our own music. This shift will only continue as Generation Z enters the workforce with its own expectations.
What does this mean for consumer research? Consumer insights are the key to help brands avoid becoming the next displaced company or industry. In the downfall of any segment, the signs are always there if you’re willing to listen to what customers have to say. As industries evolve more rapidly than ever to keep up with changing demands, stay focused on keeping the consumer – and their feedback – at the center.
The world of work has changed… for good.
When SIVO Insights was founded in 2009, we wanted the flexibility for our work and lives to be interwoven. W e gave talented, experienced professionals an outlet to do great work while achieving balance, and we focused on recognizing the whole person who came to work, celebrating not only professional, but personal, milestones together. While these ideas are mainstream today, many companies still struggle with employee satisfaction and retention. That’s why we launched LINX Workforce Innovations in 2018, to apply our expertise in consumer insights to help companies better understand – and retain – their employees .
What does this mean for employee research? Many companies mistakenly think a fun work atmosphere or flexible schedules equal satisfied employees, yet only 1/3 of employees are engaged at work(3). And, the way most companies have historically measured employee engagement, via an annual survey, hasn’t revealed the real reasons employees stay or leave. LINX guides companies to uncover their employees’ true motivations and needs in much the same way brands do with their consumers.
As we continue to celebrate SIVO’s 10th anniversary, our teams look forward to the next decade of helping our clients gain deeper insights , understanding and empathy for their consumers and employees. Considering how much change we’ve observed in the past decade, we’re excited to imagine what the next 10 years might look like – and we know it will be a fascinating journey to get there.
1 Business Insider
2 Star Tribune
3 Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report