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Emergence of Digital for many corporate HQs has been scary. This, so called, Digital Corporate Anxiety has it's implication for brands and brand departments. The importance of digital for your brand's future can be assessed by looking at broader impact of digital on economy, retail, and human behaviour in general.
Increasingly the first impressions of your brand are digital impressions. This is true for current generation of customers.
1) First (and for some only) contact(s) with customers are in digital and through digital means
Increasingly the first impressions of your brand are digital impressions. This is true for current generation of customers. For those generations ahead digital brand experiences might account for majority of them. Looking at the trend of media and online purchasing trends, there might as well be majority of people that have never experienced your brand but through digital. New generations will not have any 'offline' brand experience heritage and will form their attitudes and perceptions of your brand based ONLY on your digital brand expressions and conversations. During the Mobile World Congress 2016 I was listening a presentation from NBA digital person (denomination 'person' obviously meaning I missed the title) which stated that 95% or even 99% of NBA (brand) fans never actually experience the game live. For 95% of your customers your brand is ONLY a digital experience.
So, you might want to think really hard when you will be preparing for those generations If you're playing catch-up with current ones, you might be in trouble. If I would think enough far ahead, I could foresee brand experiences being all digital since there will be significant changes to business models due to technology advances. I would not be surprised if product oriented companies and brands would transform to service companies. I can't really see why we wouldn't be able to 3D print our own shoe, companies like Nike and Adidas are already doing it as well as Under Armour- a new player that already signaled a transformation to brand-as-a-service, providing specialized running routes.
Try switching or moving from iPhone to Android and that's about how it might feel switching toothpastes.
2) Digital Brands will have higher customer retention rates due to immense customer data
Relationships always start with infatuation, but after couple years of marriage we might loose some of the affection and look elsewhere. Easy - divorce. Brand switching has been fairly easy and frequent in offline world. Brands didn't have leverage in retention part, and I might add didn't really do much about it either. With digital touch-points, tools and platforms, brands will and already are gathering a lot of data on their consumers behavior, that once leveraged (presuming they will know how) will create higher switching costs for consumers should they decide to leave. Apple's style of closed ecosystem of platforms will be very attractive to many digital brands, so changing your choice of cereal, juice, or coffee might be quite an issue when it's linked with your dietary plan on your iPhone or as we move to IoT (internet of things or connected devices) to your coffeemaker whose software is optimized for (just) that particular brand. Try switching or moving from iPhone to Android and that's about how it might feel switching toothpastes.