There are many names for the people who keep a company in business. User, customer, buyer, seller, member, player, contributor, among others. We’re going to use “consumer” because a single word makes things simpler to talk about, and consumer is a very broad word: even if you’re using a company to sell your product or contribute your content, you’re consuming that company’s capabilities to do what you do. Just keep in mind that that word is an alias for whoever keeps you in business. We’re building an engine to help you keep those people happy.
The rate of change has changed.
Consumers have a lot of power - more than they used to. Companies used to move faster than consumers. Companies could think up, develop, and bring new offerings to market before most of their consumers could discover anything similar offered by other businesses. As a consumer it was hard to find alternatives and painfully inconvenient to switch.
The world has changed.
- Competition has simply grown. Every type of consumer - from a shopper in a brick-and-mortar store to a user on a website - has more options than ever before.
- Consumers know they have options. The internet offers efficient, contextual search and it’s easy to find stuff. Social media spreads information faster. Crowd-sourced content, like online reviews, makes it easy to compare alternatives. No matter what it is they want at the moment, consumers have multiple menus of choice.
- Change costs consumers less. In the face of competition and consumer demand, companies have prioritized making on-boarding as easy as possible. The cost for consumers to move from one option to another is low.
It’s not that companies are moving slower. Consumers are moving faster. The consumer environment we used to live in transferred most of the cost of change - both in terms of money and inconvenience - to consumers. Today’s consumer environment passes most of that cost on to companies. That’s our world today: if you run a company, you have to pay for the optionality that other companies have created for your customers.
Consumers are not loyal. That's a feature, not a bug.
It’s not that companies are moving slower. Consumers are moving faster. The consumer environment we used to live in transfered most of the cost of change - both in terms of money and inconvenience - to consumers. Today’s consumer environment passes most of that cost on to companies. That’s our world today: if you run a company, you have to pay for the optionality that other companies have created for your customers.
- Consumers know - and like - that they have many options. According to Nielsen, 42% of consumers actively search for new brands to try, 27% of consumers stick with a brand only for lack of something new to try, and only 8% of consumers try to stick with brands they’ve already tried.
- Consumers prefer to just leave rather than give feedback. Oracle found that 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience, and that 50% of consumers gave a brand only one week to respond to a question before they took their business elsewhere.
- Consumers don’t need much incentive to leave. MDR found that 60% of consumers said they would gladly switch brands for no more incentive than a single coupon.
So, yes, today’s consumers are disloyal. The consumer environment has changed to make disloyalty virtually costless. That’s just a symptom of the way the world has changed. Companies call it “disloyalty”. Consumers call it ”life”. They’re just taking advantage of the options they know they have.
If you’re asking what consumers want, they’re already gone.
For decades, companies have been investing in data and technology to better understand what their consumers want, hoping to anticipate consumers’ choices. They’ve been investing in directions that are inherently limited. Look at how companies have tried to understand consumers over the years:
- Interviews and focus groups assume that consumers would be willing to share their time and feedback, that consumers can put into words the things the company needs to change, and that the company will have a lot of time to gather information, make sense of it, and implement changes. None of those assumptions are valid today.
- Surveys require less time and can be analyzed more quickly than focus groups. They assume consumers who answer will be representative of their overall consumer base. They assume that a standardized question and answer format with no follow up can capture most of the necessary information. And they assume that consumers will be consistent and truthful in their answers. None of these assumptions were ever valid.
- The procurement and mining of demographic and other third-party data tends to enable faster processing, and segments derived from these sources tend to suggest intuitive actions a company can take. That process is expensive largely because the data is expensive to collect and compile. Because of that collection difficulty, they’re not collected often, and they’re usually collected for small subsets of consumers and then statistically estimated for the rest. It is inherently outdated and over-generalized information.
- Automated methods like machine learning (or, if you prefer the term, artificial intelligence) allow for more sophisticated use of data. These methods allow companies to go beyond simplistic segments and to adapt their models in real-time as new consumer information comes in. Yes, it’s expensive and it’s difficult to separate signal from noise, which usually requires investment in a team and infrastructure to support the methods. But the problem with machine learning as a solution is deeper than just being expensive. Machine learning lets you do useful things with data you already have, but it doesn’t create the data you need. And it fundamentally shifts business away from letting our customers tell us how we can keep them, which is what we really want
None of these approaches to consumer intelligence, individually or in combination, allow us to consistently let our consumers teach us. And we can’t ask our consumers to help: they have no interest in telling us how to make them happy, because that’s not their job and it’s easy for them to find others who are already providing what they want.
That all changes today
Technology has evolved to give consumers easier access to more buying choices. That’s not a one-way street: companies can turn that change into a strength rather than a liability.
Aampe embeds experiments within routine messaging. Whenever you send a message - an email, an SMS, a push notification, a chat-bot invitation - to a group of consumers, **Aampe makes it easy to use those messages as a behavior and preference measurement tool. It turns normal, everyday consumer communication into a data-generating process and a business growth engine.**
Experiments, done right, do things that other tools can’t do:
- Measure walk more than talk. If you want to know how people will react to a new incentive, a new value proposition, or just a new reframing of an offering, you can ask them how they’ll respond. Or, you can put the thing in front of them and let them actually respond. The latter is more reliable and more meaningful. Good experiments give you measures of action, not just opinion.
- Separate signal from noise. If you want to see how much a particular difference in your messaging impacted consumer behavior, an experiment structures your data collection so you can measure how much of the observed difference is reliable. Good experiments give you validated results.
- Generate data as you need it. All experiments work the same way. As long as you have quality assurance in place to keep your results from lying to you, you can put yourself on an automated cycle of creating new message variations that capture the information you most need at the moment. Good experiments give you the ability to update your consumer intelligence on your own timeline.
- Develop a consumer memory. Getting on a constant cycle of high-quality experimental results allows you to curate a full profile of your consumers, using categories and metrics that matter to your business. And you can modify those custom consumer attributes as more results roll in. Good experiments give you a view of the whole consumer.
In short, Aampe sets you up to create the data you need by simply communicating with your customers. We build experiments into that organic communication to build a customized view of your consumers. “Loyalty” isn’t just a false hope: even if you could get it, you’d still be living below your means. You can build the data you need to keep pace with your consumers, no matter how - or how often - they change.
Let us help you keep up with the people who keep you in business.