Marketing in the age of ‘micromoments’

Philips is rethinking how it uses data and has taken a new approach to innovation to meet shifts in customer behaviour, according to senior vice-president and global head of digital marketing and media, Blake Cahill.

We are living in an age of ‘micromoments’ – the short but precious times when brands get to interact with the consumer. Our challenge as marketers is to maximise the value of each and every one of them.

Micromoments are driven by mobile. Between 50-80% of web traffic or content consumption in our consumer business is now mobile and this has completely changed how we approach key areas of our marketing.

At Philips we know that we can only make these moments matter if we understand where consumers are in the journey and ensure that our message is relevant. It’s not enough to just broadcast your message – you need to be targeting your customers at the points that their interest is piqued.

That’s because mobile has transformed what we used to think of as a linear consumer decision journey. The ‘old’ journey went like this: you wanted something, you did some research, you read a review and then you bought it. Afterwards you wrote your own review and became a loyal customer.

READ MORE: Digital transformation 2.0 – The new challenges and how to overcome them

Since mobile earned mass adoption, this process has been broken down into a number of micromoments, with the consumer jumping backwards and forwards through these stages.

Philips has more searches on Amazon than via search engines. What should be the first stage of the journey is now happening on the shopping platform at the end of the journey.

People are in-store on a mobile device doing their research or reading the reviews. Our challenge is to understand where consumers really are in the journey and what they need in each of those micromoments.

Our solution has focused on three key areas: data and technology, obsession about customers and a revamped, faster innovation system.

The data and technology opportunity

Firstly, we have used data and technology to help us map and respond to these new journeys. It’s with these insights that we can truly understand our customer and, in turn, their needs.

Above all, data enables us to personalise the experience. We may know who you are because you may already have a product from us and you may be registered on our database, or you may look a lot like someone else we market to.

Technology is what’s allowing us to optimise these journeys and move consumers to the next micromoment. As an example, if you stop your journey, next time you come back we want to put you back in the same place. The goal is to try to offer relevant content to where an individual is in the journey.

Similarly, if we know you have bought a product, we shouldn’t try and sell it to you again; what we should be doing is getting you to register that product, unlocking the additional benefits and increase the conversation with Philips.

The last thing you want to see after buying a certain product is a Facebook ad suggesting that the exact same item is what you need at this moment in time – it just feels clumsy.

Of course, as a business we are not perfect at this yet but from a ‘where we are trying to go and what is possible’ perspective, these are the things that keep us up at night and what we are trying to perfect as a business.

An obsession with customers

Our second key change is “customer obsession”. This is a transformation of our business feedback loop that extends well beyond mobile; it permeates every aspect of customer service, unboxing and package design – practically everything we do.

Customer obsession is a fundamental change to our business model. Historically, manufacturing businesses like ours have dealt with retailers and distributors. Now we have to unlock customer relationships in both the B2B and B2C world.

A central element is consumer reviews. We have passed 400,000 product reviews across the world. It’s a metric we have increased from weekly management to daily management – further proof of just how important this feedback really is.

But it’s not just about numbers. It’s about embedding consumer feedback into the product development cycle at every stage and ensuring it’s a central part of the marketing mix. It has been important for the past couple of years but has really hit the top of the agenda in the last nine months.

The speed of innovation

The final change is improving the speed with which we drive innovation through our business.

We now have a system that allows us to build a chatbot, for example. If it works well we have a means to scale and deploy it in a way we wouldn’t have been able to three years ago.

READ MORE: How Adidas, Just Eat and HTC are using chatbots

We have reduced our time to market from a pilot to full scale issue in just a year – brought down from two or three years. It might not sound like a huge difference but in business terms it can be the deciding factor between being an industry leader and lagging behind your competitors.

All of these changes apply as much to our professional products as they do to our consumer divisions. Because, let’s be frank, every professional is shaped by their consumer experience.

Consumers the world over expect an Amazon or equivalent ecommerce experience, providing a frictionless service that gives them what they need, when they need it and at a competitive price point.

The goal is to make micromoments matter for every consumer that engages with Philips. By focusing on this, we are completely transforming the way we operate. Of course, digital transformation is never complete but the steps we have taken have shown us the way forward.

The consumer landscape over the next 10 years may be unrecognisable from what it is today. It will be challenge but an exciting period.

WFAlogo resizedBlake Cahill is supporting the WFA’s Project Reconnect, which champions what’s good about marketing and showcases its impact. The Project intends to improve perceptions of our industry. Follow the cause at: @WFAReconnect and @WFAmarketers

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