Marketers ability to adapt to phy-gital demands in an increasingly digital world is imperative for immediate customer satisfaction.
By Sonia Notani
‘Change is Inevitable, Growth is Optional’
The world as we knew it has changed. We live in ambiguous times; be it our health, our income, our investments or even our career options. This has brought about some shift in perspectives and priorities; both as consumers and marketers. Little did we think that face masks would be a wardrobe essential.
It is not only a marketer’s perspective and priority that has changed, but also his preference for mediums of exploration, influence and purchase. This transformation is inevitable, and every individual and brand will lie somewhere in between the spectrum of digital to physical. The pertinent question for every financial services brand is to understand who their customer is and where does their customer interact with them.
Who is my potential customer?
Financial certainty and achievement of lifestyle goals is a universal need. It is just the degree of the need that differs basis demography, life stage and personal priorities. For insurers, every individual needs to have access to your category and brand – whether it is to educate or to influence.
Virtual is now reality. Currently, often the first touch point is digitally enabled. Hence, we can divide the audience based on their digital literacy and comfort.
- Digital Immigrants are typically those who were introduced to technology post the early years of formal education and hence have less digital fluency. They are typically above 35 years of age. While they understand social media, smartphones, tablets, and wearable devices, and can also be avid users, their immersion is learned rather than innate.
- Digital natives are those who have grown up in a world where digital technology is omnipresent and pervasive. These typically consist of a younger audience that multitasks on the go, so much that they don’t even realise they’re doing it. Namely, texting friends, downloading music, uploading videos, watching a movie on a phone or tablet, posting on Social Media and even adapting to Wallet and UPI payments.
Am I available to my potential or existing customer?
This is an important question to answer in context of whether marketers are speaking to digital natives or immigrants. Marketers then need to customise their offering basis consumer personas. For instance, while digital natives prefer completing the buying process for an insurance plan online, digital immigrants might struggle and will need human intervention for the final purchase. Therefore, marketers now have another layer of digital comfort to consider in their approach. Below given is a list of marketers’ interaction and intersection points with customers:
- Inform and Influence: In my view, digital migrants often explore the internet in a more structured manner with relatively lower exploration. They leverage social media for word of mouth validation. Their natural community is enhanced and leveraged on digital mediums. Digital natives on the other hand are prone to exploration, initiating and forging new associations. Their digital network can be completely independent of their physical network. Having said that, a large part of social influence and validation is affected on digital mediums. I think we can safely say that the influencer marketing for migrants includes people with validation in the physical world as well; whereas natives are open to completely new experiences and influences.
- Purchase and Provide: This is a critical point in the journey for every marketer – the ‘Call to Action’. When, Where and How do we nudge the purchase? Here I believe, the migrant often needs the comfort of assistance – which is why intuitively we see a whole host of chat bots, voice support and call back options across digital journeys of financial products. The category as well as the inherent consumer persona are more inclined to the phy-gital approach in terms of comfort and convenience. The native on the other hand may be comfortable making a short-term purchase decision that is part of their natural journey. Again, financial services marketers see this opportunity and make simple, OTC plans available on ecommerce and fintech providers that are available as a simple bundle or add on options.
- Assist and Aid – This is a critical but often an underestimated need. The one thing that is common across migrants and natives, is the expectation of instant availability and response. Again, the points of digital leverage and relative physical assistance may differ for migrants and natives with migrants needing a more phy-gital approach. However, this is the easiest digital transition for brands and consumers alike and should be enabled and encouraged to build scale and efficiency in service delivery. In my opinion, getting digitally enabled service resolution right, will have a cascading effect on migrants transitioning to digital for their Information and Purchase needs as well.
The Covid-19 pandemic has challenged every brand and consumer ecosystem. It has hastened the path of digital acceptance and lowered physical dependency. The tipping point for a brand has been the ability to act over preaching. Have we as brands truly been digitally enabled in word, spirit and action? Can customers truly get solutions and services seamlessly across the transition from physical to digital spectrum based on their preference? Have we ensured due respect for physical assistance through digital enablement for assisted sales and service?
Customers and brands alike, have accelerated their digital adoption journey. However, our socio-cultural-economic fabric does involve a lot of personal validation and comfort. Marketers ability to adapt to phy-gital demands in an increasingly digital world is imperative for immediate customer satisfaction. After all, customer is the king. The medium will evolve, and brands will adapt.
The author is CMO at IndiaFirst Life Insurance Company Limited