The Curious Case of the Curious Consumer
When I first started out in marketing as a brand manager for a well-known car company, consumers knew their place and behaved properly. They watched our TV ad (or looked at our 48 sheets for lesser models), read our tactical offer in a press ad, picked up Yellow Pages to find their nearest dealer, trotted along for a test drive and then bought the car.
Life was a lot simpler, or so it seemed. We ran ads on the extra boot space of our shiny new model, reprinted Clarkson’s reviews and everyone was happy – leaving plenty of time for long lunches and Press Launches in the Pyrenees (which of course I was never allowed to go to as the junior member of the team).
Today’s consumers are just too damn curious to behave in an orderly fashion. They have become naturally inquisitive and this has become a driving force behind how they behave. Now this is either a huge irritation to ex-80s marketers or a huge opportunity for us to better understand, influence and engage with them. I know where I stand on this.
The power of the internet has taught consumers that curiosity can be rewarding and now, with gamification, can even be fun. Insurance aggregators have changed the way we reappraise our insurance renewals and we can check out TripAdvisor to find out which room in a hotel we should or shouldn’t insist on. We have so much more information at hand now to check before we buy, we only need to commit to a brand when we are absolutely certain. So, unlike my days in automotive, consumers now only visit a showroom to buy, not research.
Ok – so apart from these obvious examples what has been the big game changer. What powers and enables Curiosity? Quite simply, data. But before you switch off this is no longer as dull as it sounds.
In 2011, within the UK, consumers created 1,800,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes of data – that’s 1.8 Zetabytes apparently. This is only going to grow as Smart Phones and Tablets allow us to do this on the hoof. In fact to store all this data you would need 58 Billion iPads, which if piled up would reach the top of Mount Fuji three times over – I’ve no idea who checks these things out.
Fortunately the cost of storing and analysing all of this data has fallen exponentially (if you can do such a thing). In 1992 it cost $1,000 for 1 Gigabyte of storage. These days they give 2 Gig USBs away for free as storage costs are negligible.
So add all these factors together and there is a perfect storm for real marketing innovation. Whilst consumers have unlimited access to information – we can now monitor, measure, follow and observe exactly how and where curiosity is driving their behaviour. We are no longer restricted to tracking consumer behaviour via data we own – we can track them and of course try to influence them, almost anywhere on their customer journey.
So, maybe this will throw out a new brand measure. It will no longer be important just to worry about your brand’s awareness, but the level at which it is stimulating Consumer Curiosity – Your Brand Curiosity Quotient – there just invented that.
Back in Automotive land in the 21st century, some brands are already endorsing this. Mercedes’ two recent interactive TV ad campaigns, both ‘Escape the Map’ and the Twitter-led ‘#YOUDRIVE’ , utilise a far more involving experience to successfully target a younger more demanding audience. They both drive consumers to participate and influence the communication via digital platforms as well as the usual sign up and win type participation thus creating multi-platform Curiosity.
Now that I’m a fully paid up member of the “Curiossiti” I plan to seek out Curious generating Campaigns; when I find them I’ll let you know via this blog.
Gavin Wheeler is CEO at digital and relationship marketing agency WDMP.