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Consumer Experience Innovations: Takeaways from PSFK’s CXI 2018 Conference

June 26th, 2018   ||    by Charlene Weisler   ||    No Comments

If you’re looking for innovations in consumer marketing, PSFK’s CXI 2018 conference has proved to be, for me, one of the most forward-thinking conferences around. Speakers from a range of industries share their insights about the consumer experience, the key element of marketing that drives engagement, sales, and, ultimately, ROI.

Piers Fawkes, founder and editor in chief of PSFK, has made it a point of choosing speakers who “think differently from the assumed groupthink.” He noted that it’s important to have a diverse discussion around issues like privacy, security, news, and trust, and to look at the future in a more practical way. By understanding how brands and industries can impact the consumer experience, marketers can better formulate stories that truly understand and map the consumer journey.

Here’s what’s on the horizon.

The Impact of GDPR, AI, and Blockchain

Consumer experience innovations are emerging as a potent force in driving success. The advent of privacy legislation like GDPR, immersive artificial intelligence technology, and blockchain transparency for transactions will all have an impact on the level of that experience.

When it comes to privacy, Fawkes believes the GDPR legislation will first impact European businesses and may offer U.S. businesses a short advantage—at least initially. However, the legislation could have a negative effect, because businesses that have built up customer lists will now have to revamp them with opt-in—rather than opt-out—features.

Fawkes is excited about AI, which he calls a positive, game-changing development across industries: “I am excited to see how AI supports and enables the human experience rather than replacing the human experience—how the rationality of the computer can fuse with the creativity of the human brain to bring both of those together to create better ideas.”

He believes blockchain protocol will “level the playing field and wrestle more control back to retailers and brands from the monopolistic players in the market.” Blockchain has the potential to empower and leverage both individuals and companies to change the playing field in some industries.

Rethinking the Tech-Life Balance

Statista predicts there will be almost 31 billion devices online by 2020. These devices are always on and readily available, evolving humans into cyborgs. This worries MIT and Harvard researcher Amber Case, who advocates a slow and sensible approach to technology. It “shouldn’t require all of our attention,” she stated. “Just some of it, and only when necessary.” In other words, she believes technology should empower the periphery of our lives instead of becoming the major focus of it. It should inform and calm. “Calm technology is boring,” she noted. “You don’t notice it. When it works, it is just there.”

Technology has been both a boon and a bane for humanity. It has streamlined many tasks and connected us with a range of new possibilities. But at the same time, there’s a higher level of loneliness and anxiety. We may be missing the human element. “Machines shouldn’t act like humans,” she added. “Google doesn’t make the final decision for you. It gives you choice, and you decide.”

New Approaches to Programmatic Segmentation

Many industries are locked into age and gender consumer targeting. Programmatic advertising is moving away from that convention with consumer segmentations, but David Stewart, a founding partner at Ageist, believes the advertising industry is not moving fast enough. With over 40 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 50, he explained, we’re seeing “the greatest demo disruption our species has ever had. We are living longer and healthier as contributors and consumers, but we are feeling disempowered by the culture around us.” Only 6 percent of people who work in advertising are over 50 years old, which creates a missing connection.

His research offered the following advice to brands and marketers: “Just make good stuff,” he advised, “Signal that you ‘get us’ because old people porn is belittling. Forget that purple-haired grandmother spinning records at Burning Man.” Interestingly, he found that there is a deep generational connection between millennials and boomers. Their values cross over. So it is time to steer away from age-related marketing and move into behavioral targeting.

Conference Takeaways

In thinking about disruptions caused by new technology—and society at large—marketers are challenged to create new multichannel strategies for their brands. My major takeaway from the conference is “don’t hang on to old perceptions.”

Legacy age and gender measurements will have to be replaced with industry-accepted programmatic segmentations. Messaging has to be where the consumers are. There are things, like surfing the internet through URLs, that “won’t come back,” according to Kodi Foster, senior vice president of data strategy at Viacom, because consumers are focusing on apps. Kenyatta Cheese, cofounder and CEO of Everybody At Once, noted that our everyday experiences can keep us from picking up on what’s actually there: “What are the biases that we are not seeing?”

Maybe it’s time to break away from old legacies and consider new models for innovations. As we enter into a business-as-unusual era, the efforts that succeed will be those that provide the best innovations in multichannel consumer experiences using highly targeted, data-driven messaging.

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